Hoax airline sites make the rounds

2011-10-01 15:27

Hardly a month after its launch, Santaco Airlines has become a potential target for scammers.

Several websites have announced that the taxi group, Santaco, intends selling 40 million shares at R1 per share to investors, starting from yesterday. But the organisation denies this.

Santaco chief executive Bongani Msimang said on Friday the association of taxis was investigating who was behind at least two websites that have posted the hoax messages masquerading as official comments from Santaco.

Msimang said they feared that the messages might have been aimed at their target market, which he said might not have the sophistication necessary to fully appreciate the trade-in shares.

He said: “Our target market is composed of people from previously disadvantaged communities and we would not want to embark on an act that will confuse them.

“Santaco would not launch the airline and offer shares to the general public haphazardly.”

Msimang said the airline company has launched a probe into the matter.

“Though we have not verified this, we suspect that the people who are behind these misleading messages are travel companies,” he said.

The websites also falsely claim that Santaco last week announced a return ticket to the Eastern Cape for as little as R700.

The websites read: “The reservations launch date for Santaco Airlines is 1 October 2011, but there’s already some info on their website. It’s not clear whether what they call the ‘full price’ includes airport taxes.”

Santaco said it would only announce its fare structure in a month’s time, when it would also reveal details about its share scheme.

The websites then go on to praise Santaco Airlines: “It’s a good innovation to see that they plan on charging less for standby flights than return flights.

“Airshare prices are if you buy 10 seats upfront. They say that you’ll have to join the Santaco Loyalty Club in order to purchase a ticket, which you’ll do using your Santaco travel card.

“I can’t wait till 1 October to see the details. Become a Santaco shareholder.”

The websites then state that Santaco will sell shares to the general public: “On 1 October 2011, Santaco Travel Ltd will be placing 40 million shares at R1 a share. Whether BEE or not, you can apply.”

Msimang dismissed the websites as a hoax.

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