Mine warns of swindle

Fraudsters are using fake companies to lure and con large amounts of cash from businesses.

03 November 2020 | Crime

Christine de Klerk; Orano Mining Namibia; "Verify any instances of procurement requests and contracts."

Orano Mining Namibia called on the business community to be cautious and vigilant when approached with requests to submit tenders via email.

A scam is currently circulating, inviting potential suppliers to tender for the supply of equipment using the identity of a company calling itself Trekkopje Uranium Mine.

“Orano Mining Namibia, holders of the Trekkopje Mining Licence in the Erongo region is not related to, associated with or in any way affiliated with Trekkopje Uranium Mine. Trekkopje is still under care and maintenance and therefore not currently sourcing mining equipment,” said Christine de Klerk, a consultant for communication and communities at the mine.

By the look of things, the scam has been going on for quite some time and is apparently being orchestrated throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and involves substantial amounts. The equipment involved are mostly large products, very valuable and costs millions of dollars.

The scammers’ modus operandi involves the use of fake third party websites where the equipment can be viewed and purchased, to supply to Trekkopje Uranium Mine, as per the request to quote they sent out. Temporary domains and fake profiles are created via which chain emails targeting hundreds of companies are sent.

A deposit is requested and once this is paid, the involved party disappears, the contact numbers are disconnected and the websites are removed.

The scam currently doing the rounds involves sending persons and businesses a purchase order and requesting quotations for pumps and drills. The supplier companies then source the equipment from other companies that are also scamming partner companies with the target/victim paying for the equipment and not receiving the goods.

When looking closely at the procurement documents supplied by the ghost company, one will notice that it contains numerous inconsistencies.

One supplier called the mobile number on the documentation and twice had a conversation with a certain Morne de Bruyn, most likely a fake identity, who explained about their top secret mine operating in the Erongo region.

“We know of some South African businesses who lost money due to not being aware of the business situation in the country. At least most of our local companies are aware of who we are and enquire directly with us, but there may be some who lose money too,” said De Klerk who encouraged victims of the scam in Namibia to open cases with the police.

When Googling “Trekkopje Uranium Mine” the first hit is the website of the Namibian Uranium Association. For this reason the association received numerous calls from suppliers of industrial supplies based in South Africa to enquire about the mine. Many phoned to report the scam.

In two cases the supplier actually sent goods to the provided addresses and did not receive any payment for it.

NamPower and TransNamib also previously issued alerts about an email and telephone active scam involving fraudulent purchase orders and requests for product quotations. Both companies cautioned the business sector, suppliers and the public at large not to enter into any type of business transactions or information exchanges without confirming the authenticity of any contract with them.

Orano Mining Namibia encourage business people to contact the mine directly in order to verify any instances of procurement requests.

“Apply standard good procurement practices at all times. Verify any instances of procurement requests and contracts. Check the VAT and registration number on documents with the relevant authorities and verify that the address supplied actually exists,” De Klerk advised.

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