Police are urging victims of an online scam to come forward

Police are urging victims of an online scam to come forward
Police are urging victims of an online scam to come forward. Image source: Pixabay

The SAPS Commercial Crime Investigation Unit in East London are calling on victims of an online scam to come forward as police have succeeded in obtaining a preservation order on one of the six bank accounts used to dupe potential investors.

According to police information, it is alleged that in 2023, people joined an investment known as ANT-RANCH, where they registered online to be RANCHERS. They invested money to purchase animals like geese, snakes, donkeys etc. However, they were not actually receiving the animals – this was just a way of labelling the investment.

The prices of the animals differed according to their sizes and the rancher would receive DIVIDENDS daily, depending on the type and price of the animal one has purchased.

Money to purchase these animals were deposited by the ranchers into more than six different bank accounts with different references. There was no direct communication with the people who were liaising with the ‘clients’ during their period of investment – communication was only done through WhatsApp messages. A substantial amount of money were being invested as the ranchers were seen a return on their investment deposited into their accounts on a daily basis. Due to the fact that they could see their investment thriving, they did not withdraw their increases instead some left it to increase while others invested more money.

On 10 October 2023, when the investors/ranchers logged in to the ANT-RANCH system to check on their investments, the system was BLOCKED, and they couldn’t gain access on anything. The WhatsApp numbers also failed to exist and everyone who invested were duped and they lost their money.

A case of Fraud was opened and to date, there are seven complainants (five are from East London and two from Gqeberha). Police believe that there could be more victims of this scam.

As the investigation unfolded, the investigating officer succeeded with the assistance of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, to freeze one of the accounts and a Preservation Order was obtained.

Police are now appealing to victims of this particular Fraud to come forward before 21 February 2024, so that monies can be paid out to them failing which the monies will be forfeited to the State.

Detective Sergeant Ayanda Ntobongwana from the East London Commercial Crime Investigation Unit may be contacted on 043-708 7178 or 043-708 7174, or on 072 393 9353 (WhatsApp messages only with all your particulars/ proof etc). She will respond or make contact with the sender. When contacting the investigating officer, reference your response to the ANT-RANCH case.

People should be wary of investment schemes promising hefty returns and requesting deposits into multiple bank accounts. These are red flags, signalling potential scams, prompting caution and vigilance among investors.

SAPS Newsroom