Asset Forfeiture Unit moves against 'pyramid scheme' Up Money, freezes R18.5m in cash

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The Asset Forfeiture Unit has obtained two preservation orders freezing about R18.5 million in assets as well as three luxury vehicles against a company known as Up Money, which it has labelled a pyramid scheme.

Advocate Ouma Rabaji, deputy national director of Public Prosecutions and head of the AFU, said at a media briefing on Tuesday that some 230 000 people may have fallen victim to the scam.

A criminal case has been registered and investigations are ongoing. Rabaji said the arrests of Up Money's directors could be expected "very soon".

According to Thezi Mabuza, the National Consumer Commission's acting commissioner, Up Money works like a classic pyramid scheme where members are promised high returns if they recruit more members for commissions.

Over R40 million may have been paid into the scheme in total, of which 44% went to its directors, she said. The group's directors appear to have used these funds to buy three vehicles for their personal use: an Audi TT, a Hummer H3 and a Jaguar XKR Coupe.

Mabuza said it was prohibited conduct under the Consumer Protection Act to promote or join a pyramid scheme.  She warned the public not to part with their hard-earned money to only enrich the directors of pyramid schemes.

According to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, Up Money was registered in Gauteng at the end of 2017. On its website, the group promises to help consumers "save on monthly groceries and earn extra income" but does not explain how this is done.

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