An official working for a company contracted to the City was arrested at work on Friday 20 November for allegedly being part of a 11 member syndicate that had been defrauding customers for months.
The City’s anti-fraud unit was alerted to the scam by a customer who had received a fraudulent email demanding payment and alleging that the City had changed its banking details.
An investigation found that the syndicate, which operated mainly around Westbury, had been falsely acting as the city’s attorney while soliciting large amounts of money from customers through false emails.
“We managed to identify the syndicate and the names of all those involved,” says Kgamanyane Maphologela, the Director of Customer Communications at the City’s Revenue department.
According to Maphologela, the official would collect and send a database of customers in arrears or facing termination of services to the syndicate instead of sending the names to City Power.
“Using a fabricated letterhead, they would send customers emails demanding payment and threatening to have their services cut, unless they deposited at least half of what they [customers] owed. For a customer owing R1million, they would demand payment of R500 000 and then send someone to disconnect electricity if they did not receive payment. We found out that the culprit responsible for cutting is a former City of Johannesburg employee.”
Maphologela says customers must validate their account information through the city’s call centre or the nearest municipal office.
To report any suspicious activities, call the city’s anti-fraud hotline at 0800 002 587