CAPE TOWN – The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has confirmed to Moneyweb that it has launched a “full scale investigation” into a company that has been selling ‘share trading’ software promising 40% returns in six months. The company, which sells a product called Optimal Market System Software, has been served with an investigation certificate that compels it to cooperate with the commission.
“The NCC has to date received seven complaints against Cursu Taurorum, and launched a full-scale investigation into the company in August 2015,” said commission spokesperson Trevor Hattingh. “The investigation is envisaged to be completed by February 2016.”
The complaints received by the NCC, a number of which Moneyweb has seen, centre on allegations that Tenacity Capital/Cursu Taurorum has unduly taken money off consumers’ credit cards. These deductions have been made even though the purchase of the software has been cancelled, or the product was returned within the five-day “cooling off period” allowed for in the National Consumer Protection Act. In two cases, the complainants allege that the software was never delivered.
Other complaints maintain that the company deducted amounts without proper authorisation, and that it misrepresented what the costs would be.
Hattingh told Moneyweb that the NCC had met with representatives from Cursu Taurorum and given them a comprehensive list of questions to answer. However, it appears that the company has missed the deadline to provide a response.
Consumers who have raised complaints about Cursu Taurorum tell a similar story of how they were approached by consultants selling a trading platform and a subscription service. They were told that they would receive information on which shares to buy and sell and that this would earn them guaranteed returns.
One person said that the salesperson had given the impression that he worked for the JSE.
In most cases, it appears that the salespeople made their pitch by first only mentioning the subscription service, which costs R275 per month. This would include a daily SMS that would tell clients which shares to buy and sell, thereby guaranteeing them returns.
Once consumers accept the subscription, however, they allege that the salesperson then tells them they will need the software in order to trade. This costs R22 500 and is immediately charged for. They are told that this will come off the budget facility of their credit cards over a period of 36 or 60 months, but it is put onto the straight facility instead and deducted straight away.
Consumers who express doubt about the cost are allegedly told that they will receive R5 000 to trade on the JSE and by using the system, they will make enough money to pay off the balance within six months. While a simple calculation would reveal this doesn’t match with the 40% return that the salespeople mention (this would only be another R2 000), it appears that people are taken in by the promised returns.
In a few cases, consumers who have bought and paid for the software have allegedly had further amounts of up to R5 000 deducted from their credit cards at a later stage. When they complain to the company, they are told that it was an error due to a system crash. In one case the money was refunded, but in others Moneyweb has been told that it has not.
Questionable sales practices
Moneyweb has been told that the Cursu Taurorum/Tenacity Capital salespeople all conduct themselves in a very convincing and professional manner. They even inform consumers that they have five days to evaluate the software and return it for a full refund if they no longer want it.
However, consumers have told Moneyweb that when they try to do so they are either given excuses or not provided with a proper response until after the ‘cooling off’ period is over. They are either told that it is too late to cancel the contract or that because they have already opened it they will still have to pay the full amount.
It also appears as if the company is playing on racial prejudices to make sales. One of the complainants alleges that a Cursu Taurorum salesman told him that they are providing the product to support Afrikaners and that they were not making it available “to any black or coloured people”.
In addition, neither Cursu Tauroum nor Tenacy Capital is a registered financial services provider. It would have to be registered with the Financial Services Board (FSB) in order to offer any kind of financial advice, and share trade recommendations might be considered as such.
Neither company is a member of the JSE either. They are therefore not recognised brokers and are not permitted to offer a brokerage service.
The FSB confirmed to Moneyweb that it has also received a complaint about the company, which it is “considering”.
No response from Cursu Taurorum.
On Friday October 23, Moneyweb called Cursu Taurorum and spoke to someone who identified herself as Marie-Louise. When asked if she could put us through to the people responsible for dealing with these complaints, we were initially told that she did not know who the responsible person was.
However, upon being asked a second time, Marie-Louise said the person to speak to was Cindy, but that she was not in the office. She took our details and told us that Cindy would call us back to discuss the matter. However, we have yet to be contacted.