Monday, November 11, 2019


Dear Newspaper Readers,

          Those in charge of advertising at the Northern KwaZulu-Natal Courier must surely be regretting it now.
          The paper’s greed was such that it accepted feloniously obtained money from people it knew were crooks. It had first hand knowledge of this because it had carried not one exposé of the Coin-It and CommEx ponzi schemes, but three in quick succession.
          Then, on the face of it just to make money, it accepted a half page advertorial written by the promoters of these schemes that did nothing else but extol the charitable work Coin-It had been doing around Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal where these con-artists are based.
          At the bottom of this notorious puff for Coin-It the promoters included colour logos of what a reader could only conclude were businesses own by members of the De Beer family, the people behind these ponzi schemes. One was for Engen the R70 000-million a year South African oil company that was voted South Africa’s Favourite Petrol Station this year for the ninth consecutive time in the Sunday Times’ annual Top Brands Awards.
          Hardly a company you would expect to be associated with these Dundee crooks. So I sent an email to Yussa Hassan Engen’s Chief Executive asking him if he was happy to have Engen’s name linked to the De Beer family and their ponzi scheme rackets. Shortly afterwards I got the following reply from Gavin Smith Engen’s External Communications manager.
          It was clear that Engen had been seriously libeled by the compilers of this advertorial and the Courier for printing it. They were very lucky that Engen was evidently not interested in taking it any further.
          But it shows how dicey it is for a newspaper to print something like this, especially when it comes from known swindlers.(Newspaper behaving badly)
          Meanwhile activist Rowena James quit as the Administrator of the Facebook group she started to try and nail those responsible for these ponzi schemes.
          “I actually feel I have done all I can,” she told me. “So there it is the activist has hung up her hat. Our advocate failed to get an urgent order to liquidate Coin-It because the company suddenly found 28 investors who had been paid every month.”
          This is just a token amount among what is said to be 27 000 people who put their faith in Coin-It for a better life only to find it has now been closed by the authorities.
“So they are opposing the order.” Rowena continued. “We go back to court on 4th December.
“I still have not heard from the Hawks. I did however email Gerrie Nel’s office. I got a reply and apparently the Commercial Crimes Unit; Asset Forfeiture Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority are all working on this case. I was told to just cooperate with them.” 
          A day later Rowena had changed her mind. “I have been dragged back into the fold due to some new developments,” she said. “A number of investors asked me not to hang up my boxing gloves just yet.
          “Last night a man phoned me and told me he had been a policeman for 30 years. He asked me not to stop as he said I was doing a sterling job. He is from Pietermaritzburg and undertook to visit Sgt. Zuma (the member of the Hawks dealing with the investigation) and get us some decent feedback.
          “So, I am stepping up my campaign to get investors to make statements to Sgt. Zuma and we are doing all we can to cooperate, despite the fact that my statement was leaked.”
          She added that some investors had staged a sit-in outside Coin-It’s premises and had refused to leave until they get paid. (Rowena James gets death threat)
          It was very brave of a small community newspaper like the Courier (Readership of 15 000 around Dundee with a weekly distribution of 4 500 papers) to expose the shenanigans of these ponzi schemes that have millions to spend on legal actions, but then they spoilt it all by taking that advertorial. I gathered that the Editor Terry Worley had no say in the matter as so often happens on newspapers when money making advertising is concerned.
          Jon, the Consumer Watchdog you can count on.
P.S. I didn’t go any further with my investigation into the logos of the businesses that appeared in the advertorial as I felt that Engen was the most important one.

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