Durban private investigator warns small businesses of spike in Covid-19 scams
PRIVATE investigator, Rick Crouch, has issued a warning about an old scam that has resurfaced.
This time, the national lockdown and Covid-19 are being used as the subject of the scam.
“In the last few weeks, we have noticed an increase in the number of these cases contacting our office. Without exception what the scammer is requesting is lockdown or Covid-19 related.
“These victims have lost huge amounts of money; the smallest amount was R600 000 and the largest amount was more than R2 million. The victims attempt to open a case with SAPS but unfortunately, many times they are turned away because SAPS are saying that there is no person to open a case against,” said Crouch.
“If you receive a Request for Quotation (RFQ) do your due diligence, especially if they are requesting a product you do not sell. And remember that old saying, if it appears too good to be true it most likely is,” advised Crouch.
He said companies are receiving a Request for Quotation (RFQ) from scammers who claim to be from government departments. The two departments being used are the Department of Defense and the Department of Health.
“The RFQ will ask the company to quote an item that is urgently needed by the department, it will give a specific description and/or part number of this item. When the company conducts a Google search for that description or part number, the search result will show only one supplier for that specific item. The website seems legitimate, but on closer inspection, there are a couple of red flags, like the only number posted is a cell number and the email address is a Gmail address.
“The victim contacts the supplier for a quotation, then tells the RFQ requester that they can fill the order,” said Crouch.
The supplier and the RFQ requester are the same people
The RFQ requester then places the order with the victim and requests for the goods to be delivered directly to the department that submitted the RFQ. The delivery details are also provided by the scammer. The victim receives the invoice and pays the requested amount to the supplier.
The victim pays the supplier, and the supplier ‘delivers’ the product directly to the RFQ requester.
"Now one of two things happen, the RFQ requester and the supplier go silent and disappear, or the RFQ requester emails the victim within a few days saying they received the items and that they are so impressed with the service that they will place another urgent order. The whole cycle starts again and the victim finds out too late that they have been scammed, sometimes twice by the same scammer.
“The victim usually does not realise that they have been scammed until they submit their invoice for payment,” added Crouch.
Source: Highway Mail Written By: Sanelisiwe Tsinde