‘Money Stokvel’ operators close up shop, millions lost in suspected Vryheid Ponzi scheme

Scores of residents hoping to cash in on the ‘Money Stokvel’ operating in Vryheid stood around West End this morning wearing grim expressions.

The doors to the premises, which the operation had been running from, were locked tight and all the furniture removed, except for a few plastic chairs that were stacked inside.

Residents took to social media where news spread like wildfire that the people who had been running the suspected Ponzi scheme had skipped town with everyone’s money.

Reliable sources say that some people had taken bonds on their houses and even sold their vehicles in order to raise the money to invest.

Watch the video below to understand how a Ponzi scheme works then continue article below:

Many expressed resentment toward the Vryheid Herald for publishing an article on the front page of the latest edition of the newspaper, warning residents that the operation was likely a Ponzi scheme. They felt that the intervention by the Vryheid Herald has caused the alleged con men to close their operation sooner than intended.

People who had invested said they understood that the ‘investment’ was a Ponzi scheme and knew the risks involved, but were grateful for the opportunity to make some extra money during ‘lean’ times.

They justified the fact that they were be benefitting from another’s loss, saying that everyone involved knew what they were getting into.

The Vryheid Herald has attempted to contact the people behind ‘Money Stokvel’ on all three of the contact numbers advertised on their posters, but the calls go straight to voicemail.

Last week, officials at the Financial Services Board (FSB) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) confirmed that ‘Money Stokvel’ was not registered to provide financial services in Vryheid, and said it definitely sounded like a Ponzi scheme that they would be looking into.

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Police officials expressed concern for the people who had lost large amounts of money to the scheme, worrying that many were tearful and showed signs of helplessness and even depression.

The distress and anxiety caused by financial loss can lead to problems falling asleep or staying asleep, tiredness and fatigue, appetite loss, memory and concentration problems, such as forgetfulness or vagueness, feeling overwhelmed, anxious or fearful, mood swings or over-reactions to small things, muscle tension or pain, frustration, withdrawing from others, not socialising as much, and feeling angry, irritable or intolerant. Physical symptoms can include heartburn, headaches, skin rashes or stomach pains.

If you are feeling any of the above symptoms, seek help. Pastor John McKenzie is offering counselling services to anyone who needs it. Please contact Darlene Momburg on 082 841 0742 to make arrangements.

  AUTHOR
Estella Naicker

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