Tag Archives: Sharemax

Investors need to wise up to Ponzi schemes

18 Aug

Author: DAWIE DE VILLIERS

Publications: Citizens Alert ZA

Date Published : 17 August 2014

Investors need to wise up to Ponzi schemes – Sharemax and directors schemed to defraud public, says Fais ombud

With many South Africans – and retirees, in particular – struggling to make ends meet, they become easy pickings for fraudsters operating get-rich-quick investment scams, also known as Ponzi schemes.

In their search for high returns on investments, South Africans seem to repeatedly entrust their hard-earned savings to operations which, at best, have short-term track records and, at worst, knowingly sell promises that they are unable to deliver on.

Investors buy into these promises without fully understanding how these operators achieve their alleged returns.

Over the past five years, the following schemes – which have had traumatic consequences for unsuspecting investors – come to mind: Fidentia, Leaderguard, Sharemax, King Group, and the Herman Pretorius saga.

There is a golden thread running through this list: each one promised a return far superior to that of the financial market, at a very low risk. In hindsight, such promises were too good to be true. But why do we continue to move from one such scandal to the next?

Spotting a Ponzi or pyramid scheme is relatively easy. Here is a checklist to arm yourself against fraudsters:

1. Insist on proof that the investment vehicle is registered with the Financial Services Board (FSB).

If it isn’t, and your money gets lost, you have no avenues of recourse open.

2. Compare the interest rates on offer with the global and local investment landscape (for example, interest rates and economic growth rates).

If the national interest rates are at 5 or 6 percent, and someone is offering you a guaranteed return of 30 percent, it is likely to be a fraudulent scheme. Having realistic expectations of investment returns is the cornerstone of any sensible investment strategy.

3. Be wary of consistent returns.

By their very nature, financial markets are fluid instruments fluctuating daily.

If a scheme offers consistent, guaranteed returns and it is not underwritten by an insurer or bank, it is most likely not invested in secure financial instruments and should, therefore, be closely scrutinised.

4. Look carefully at the track record of the institution and individual offering the investment opportunity.

And this means not just taking their word for it. Contact the FSB, contact the editor of the personal finance section of the newspaper, and ask reputable brokers for their opinion. In an economic downturn, your best bets are very well-established investment houses with solid track records and healthy cash reserves.

Don’t be fooled by professional-looking documentation or reporting.

5. Practise steps 1 to 4 above, no matter who you hear about the scheme through.

Unfortunately, many unsuspecting investors are introduced to Ponzi schemes through intermediaries, such as friends and family, and this provides them with a comfort factor. This does not mean they are safe. It is possible that those family and friends will equally become victims.

6. Don’t be comforted if the scheme has paid out regularly to those family or friends.

This is a classic characteristic of a Ponzi scheme. In order to appear legitimate, they pay out, as promised, for a period of time to allow word-of-mouth to market the scheme on their behalf. Then, when there are enough investors, they pull the plug and make off with the money.

7. Trust your instincts. Common sense and gut feel can be great defences against falling for Ponzi schemes.

Ask yourself why you have been given an opportunity to make fabulous returns on your investment. Why have you been so lucky to get this unbelievable opportunity to multiply your wealth? What’s so special about you?

8. Be extremely wary of “opportunities” to invest your money in franchises or investments that require you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit or recoup your initial investment.

No legitimate investment house employs this strategy – in short, it is a very big clue that something dodgy is brewing.

Whatever your reason for investing, it is vital to have a goal, a timeline and reasonable expectations.

By investing in regulated investment products – such as unit trusts or mutual funds – you are investing in products that have an enormous amount of governance.

Before investing, you must be sure that you are trusting your funds to a person, people or an institution that has shown that it can consistently deliver returns over an extended period of time.

Long-standing institutions with proven track records are often the wisest choice.

Please contact an accredited financial adviser to discuss these collective investment schemes.

* De Villiers is chief executive officer, Sanlam Structured Solutions.

Background

Named after Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant to the US who convinced New Yorkers to invest in coupons yielding fabulous returns in the aftermath of World War I, most Ponzi schemes have the following modus operandi: investors are wooed by fantastic returns, with the older investors in the scheme getting paid from the proceeds of the newer investors. But the scheme only lasts as long as it attracts new investors.

South Africans in search of high returns have also been caught out. Names that spring to mind include Barry Tannenbaum – who fleeced billions from wealthy individuals in 2009 – Masterbond, Ovation, Fidentia and, most recently, Herman Pretorius.

Ponzi scheme alert: How to know when it really is too good to be true

27 Sep

Author: Dawie de Villiers, CEO, Sanlam Employee Benefits

Publications:  Sanlam

Date Publiched: 27 September 2013

The extended economic downturn and interest rates hovering around the 5 or 6% mark make investment returns all too elusive right now. With many South Africans, in particular retirees, struggling to make ends meet, it is fertile ground for fraudulent investment schemes – known popularly as Ponzi schemes – to flourish.

The SA Reserve Bank recently launched a national campaign to increase awareness of pyramid or Ponzi schemes. The campaign encourages people to be careful when looking at potential investment opportunities.

South Africans seem to repeatedly entrust their hard-earned savings to operations which, at best, have short-term track records and, at worst, knowingly sell promises that they are unable to deliver on. Investors buy into these promises without fully understanding how these operators achieve their alleged returns.

Over the past six years the following schemes – which have had traumatic consequences for unsuspecting investors – come to mind: Fidentia, Leaderguard, Sharemax, King Group, the Herman Pretorius saga, and Defencex. There is a golden thread running through this list; each one promised a return far superior to that of the financial market, at a very low risk. In hindsight, such promises were too good to be true. But why do we continue to move from one such scandal to the next?

Spotting a Ponzi or pyramid scheme is actually relatively easy – here is a checklist ………

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Sharemax director warns against Fais Ombud complaints

24 Sep

Author: Julius Cobbett

Publications: MoneyWeb

Date Published: 24 September 2013

Dominique Haese claims investors might lose their right to investment returns.

JOHANNESBURG – Investors in Nova Group Investments have been cautioned against pursuing complaints with Fais Ombud Noluntu Bam. Investors have been warned that if they pursue their complaints, they may forfeit their rights to investment returns or repayments from the Nova Group

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Bedrieglike beleggings vang jou só

12 Apr

Author: Hanlie Stadler

Publications:  Die Burger

Date Publiched: 12 April 2013

Dis ’n frase wat almal ken: As dit te goed klink om waar te wees, ís dit. En tog verloor duisende mense jaarliks miljarde rande in twyfelagtige en bedrieglike“beleggings”. Hoe keer jy dat jy ’n slagoffer raak?

VERSKILLENDE SOORTE BEDROG Geen swendelaar gaan jou ooit nooi om in sy Ponzi- of piramideskema of ander soort skelmspul te belê nie. Hulle gaan jou intrek met indrukwekkende syfers en woorde wat klink of dit wettige beleggingsinstrumente is.
In die geval van ’n Ponzi-én ’n piramideskema word jou geld egter nooit regtig in ’n werklike onderneming, eiendom of ander beleggingsinstrument belê nie. Die geld wat jy belê, word gebruik om die belegger voor jou se beloofde opbrengs te betaal. Net só word jou “opbrengs”betaal uit die geld wat die volgende belegger belê.

WAT IS DIE ROL VAN ’N FINANSIËLE TUSSENGANGER?
Voordat jy jou geld belê, vra die raad van ’n sogenaamde finansiële tussenganger – hy kan die titel finansiële raadgewer, gesertifiseerde finansiële beplanner (CFP) of makelaar hê. “Ervare raadgewers het al ál die skemas gesien en weet hoe hulle werk,” sê Came.

Uiteraard is daar enkele vrot appels in die bedryf vir finansiële tussengangers. Só was tussengangers by Herman Pretorius se bedrogspul betrokke. Die Fais-ombudsman het pas tussengangers wat beleggers se geld in Sharemax (’n eiendomsindikasie wat in duie gestort het) belê het, skuldig bevind aan ’n verskeidenheid oortredings.

Maar, sê Lubowski, baie min bedrieglike skemas laat hul produkte deur finansiële tussengangers verkoop óf hulle beperk hulle net tot enkele sulke tussengangers, wat dan ook gewoonlik ’n baie nou verhouding het met die“ghoeroe” van die beleggingskema.

Lubowski sê die rol van ’n finansiële beplanner strek baie verder as net die verkoop van versekerings- of beleggingsprodukte. “Hy moet jou éérs help om realisties en voldoende te beplan en dan te kyk na ’n portefeulje produkte. Enige beplanner wat net aan jou produkte wil verkoop voordat ’n behoorlike proses deurloop is, moet vir jou ’n rooi vlag wees.”

Lees Artikel in Die Burger

How to spot a ponzi scheme

10 Dec

Author: Dawie De Villiers

Publications:  Sake24

Date Publiched: 10 December 2012

Cape Town – With the global economic slowdown and interest rates at around 5% to 6% investment returns are looking bleak.

With many South Africans, particularly retired persons struggling financially, fraudulent investment schemes, or “Ponzi” schemes have become more widespread, says Dawie de Villiers of Sanlam.

Investors often buy into such schemes without full understanding how such schemes and their operators achieve the promised returns.

These schemes often assure investors of a return far greater to that of the financial market, at low risk.

In the past few years, Sharemax, Fidentia, Leaderguard and those of Herman Pretorius are some of the schemes many unsuspecting investors have been caught out by.

There are however ways for investors to prevent falling ….

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Sharemax-adviseur moet geld terugbetaal

28 Oct

Author: Adri van Zyl

Publications:  Sake24

Date Publiched: 28 October 2012 

Johannesburg. – Nóg ’n finansiële adviseur is deur die ombudsman vir finansiële tussengangers en adviesdienste (Fais) gelas om geld terug te betaal aan ’n afgetrede egpaar wat op sy aanbeveling geld in The Villa-ontwikkeling van Sharemax belê het.

Noluntu Bam, die Fais-ombudsman, het gelas dat Christoffel Johannes Nel R320 000 terugbetaal aan ’n egpaar van KwaZulu-Natal.

Dié egpaar, onderskeidelik 71 en 68 jaar oud, het in April 2010 op aanbeveling van Nel in The Villa belê.

Die bedrag verteenwoordig sowat 50% van hul aftreekapitaal en hulle is van die inkomste daarop afhanklik vir hul daaglikse bestaansuitgawes.

Luidens die klagte wat by die ombudsman se kantoor ingedien is, is The Villa aan hulle voorgehou as ’n “belegging met geen risiko nie wat ’n hoër maandelikse inkomste lewer”.

Bam het bevind dat Nel nie ge­lisensieer was om beleggings in die ongenoteerde aandele en skuldbriewe van The Villa te verkoop nie en ook nie die egpaar bewus gemaak het van die risiko’s van die belegging nie.

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