Johannesburg - Transport Minister Dipuo Peters's name is being used by an impostor in a 419 scam, claiming the minister has over R300 million ( $30,5 million) and needs help in moving the money.
“Firstly, let me start by introducing myself as Mrs Elizabeth Dipuo Peters,” claims the impostor, using the e-mail address elizapeters30(at)gmail.com.
“I am visually impaired widow, a mother of two children and former Premier of the Northern Cape Province (22 April 2004 - 10
May 2009) under the auspices of the President of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki, and now elected as a Minister of Energy of the Republic of South Africa since 11 May 2009.”
Peters in fact is now the 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, also referred as a 419 scam. The number 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian criminal code dealing with fraud.
Usually victims receive e-mails claiming that their help is needed to access large sums of money. In return, 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 Captain Paul Ramaloko said the crime was common in South Africa.
“Yes, the crime is prevalent. The perpetrators take advantage of people who are less suspecting, and we are basically saying if it is too good to be true, then something is wrong,” he said.
“We have a fully fledged unit within the Hawks focused on the plight of 419 scam victims.”
If a member of the public was defrauded by the scam, they should contact the police, who would alert the Hawks.
The transport department was not available for comment. - Sapa