Transport Minister Dipuo Peters's name is being used by an impostor in a 419 scam, claiming the minister has US30.5 million (over R300 million) and needs help in moving the money.
Peters is actually minister of transport. The impostor said she had received the recipient's contact details through the "foreign information exchange in South Africa on a personal request" so they could find a reliable and trustworthy foreign individual.
"After due deliberation with my children, I decided to contact you for your assistance in standing as a beneficiary to the sum of US30.5 million."
The e-mail is an example of advance fee fraud referred to as the 419 scam. The number 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian criminal code dealing with fraud. Victims receive e-mails claiming that their help is needed to access large sums of money. The helper is promised a slice of the money.
The impostor claimed that after being widowed in 1986, she discovered her husband had the money in an account with a security and finance institution in South Africa. "I will divulge information to you when I get your full consent and support to go for a change of beneficiary and subsequent transfer of the funds into a comfortable and conducive account of your choice," the impostor said.
The funds had been invested for the further education of her children, the e-mail added. The money supposedly arose through an over-invoiced contract which was executed with the South African government. For changing your account beneficiary, the impostor claimed they would hand over 20 percent of the sum as a fee, plus five percent of any expenses incurred during the transaction. The e-mail listed a South African cellphone number as a contact number, and reminded the reader that the transaction had to remain absolutely confidential.
Hawks spokesman Capt Paul Ramaloko said the crime was common in South Africa. "The crime is prevalent. The perpetrators take advantage of people who are less suspecting, and we basically say if it is too good to be true, then something is wrong. We have a unit within the Hawks focused on the plight of 419 scam victims. If anyone is defrauded by the scam, they should contact the police.
The transport department was not available for comment. Sapa