Investors of Obelisk have claimed that its promoters had taken advantage of them financially. Before this, the National Consumer Commission (NCC) received consumer complaints.
In a public declaration on Friday, the complainants said close friends and family members enlisted them. The complainants said that Obelisk convinced them to buy a “bitcoin mining machine.”
The Scam Was Designed as An Initiative to Sell Bitcoin Mining Equipment
The scammers led users of the Obelisk platform to believe that the bitcoin mining machines would generate daily cash. Participants estimate the price of one of these devices between R340 and R450 000.
Participants were sought out through social media sites. Facebook serves as an example of one of them. They joined several Obelisk WhatsApp groups after registering and paying the first investment.
The scammers even gave minor profits to certain participants to entice them to invest more. The NCC quotes the members as saying the issue arose when they made more significant investments. They were unable to withdraw money at this time.
After challenging the administrators about the difficulty of withdrawing money, the admins kicked out the participants of the WhatsApp group.
The NCC’s First Research Indicates That Obelisk Is a Multiplication Scheme
A multiplication scheme is defined clearly under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). It is defined as a situation in which a person agrees with any participant with an actual yearly return amount at least 20% higher than the repo value as of the investment date.
As shown in the NCC, non-South African nationals are running the program. They use South African bank accounts and cell phones with either South African or foreign numbers.
South Africans established these bank accounts and gave them to the offenders. The South African cellular numbers are handled in the same way.
The NCC said it had received 25 reports from participants who have lost a combined R750 000.
It is uncertain how much precisely participants in this scam lost. However, based on the NCC’s first examination, there were around 4000 members across eight WhatsApp groups. As a result, about R112 million was lost by the players.
Listed Categories of The Perpetrators
According to the CPA, multiplication schemes are not permitted. Therefore, following the CPA, a person may not indirectly or directly advertise, join, enter, or engage in a multiplication scheme.
This implies that everyone involved is engaging in unlawful activities. These people include Obelisk’s owners and employees. In addition, those who created bank accounts or mobile numbers during the operation are also included.
According to estimates, South Africa lost over R1.8 billion due to scams in 2021 alone. This is according to the Global Anti-Scam Alliance’s Global State of Scams Report 2022. (GASA).
Acting Commissioner for NCC is Thezi Mabuza. Pyramid and multiplication plans, according to Mabuza, have drastically expanded after 2020.
This was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival, which raised unemployment rates. As a result, it motivated individuals to seek fast money in the smallest amount of time.
Mabuza has pleaded with the populace to refrain from participating in these duplicitous schemes to save themselves pain and misery.