JOHANNESBURG – Defencex investors have until the end of the month to register their claims to money invested in the Ponzi scheme masterminded by Chris Walker.
Promising returns of 2% a day under the trading name Net Income Solutions, Defencex is believed to have amassed more than R800 million from roughly 60 000 investors between April 2012 and February 2013.
The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) froze its accounts on February 28 2013. At the time, Defencex could account for just R352 million of the original R800 million invested.
Since the repayment website went live in March, more than 20 000 investors have registered their claims, says repayment administrator PwC’s Malcolm Campbell.
He suspects that a significant number of claims are still outstanding.
Although 170 000 individuals were registered on the Defencex platform, Campbell estimates that closer to 60 000 actually deposited money into the scheme.
Proof of claim needed
In order to register a claim, investors need to create a profile on the Repayment Administration Web Application (www.rawa.co.za) using their ID and Defencex login details. Once the profile has been verified, investors then need to submit proof of their investment, such as a deposit slip or EFT record.
“Some people have created a profile, but have not come forward with their deposit information,” Campbell says. Other investors have given their Defencex account details instead of their personal bank account details as the account into which they would like their money to be repaid.
Investors, many of who made cash deposits, are complaining that they have since lost their deposit slips and therefore have no way of proving that they invested in Defencex.
“If investors can remember more or less on what date they deposited their money and how much money they deposited, then they will be accepted without a deposit slip,” Campbell says.
He urges investors to phone the RAWA helpdesk on (012) 429 0033 if they need help submitting a claim or find that their claim has been rejected.
“We have to have some basis of checking claims,” Campbell argues, noting that some people are submitting false claims or claiming more than they invested.
Defencex’s records, which PwC is using to verify claims, reflect only the investor’s Defencex username, their cellphone number, the amount they invested and the date the investment was made. People may have details of a username and cellphone number in their possession and could lay claim to money that is not theirs, which is why it is important to use deposit information as a safeguard against this.
“We’re trying to ensure a fair process so that we can say we’re comfortable that this is actually the person who invested,” says Campbell.
Since not all the money was in the Defencex account when it was frozen, investors cannot expect to receive their capital back in full. Once PwC has verified the information it receives by August 31, it will pay investors 65% of their initial investment, less any payments they received from Defencex while the scheme was operating.
For example, if you deposited R20 000 and received R10 000 from Defencex, you would be due 65% of R20 000 (or R13 000), minus the R10 000 you already received. In other words, R3 000 would be owed to you.
According to Campbell, some investors, who actually made a net profit from the scheme, are registering claims. They should in fact be paying money back to other investors, but finding them and forcing them to pay back the money will cost more in the end.
Campbell is surprised that more people have not come forward to register their claims, since word of the scheme itself was spread only by word of mouth and it didn’t run for very long. “We’re trying our utmost to reach people by sending SMSes and through our advertising campaigns,” he says
A national ad campaign is being run across print, online and broadcast media.
Other than the names Defencex and Net Income Solutions, the scheme operated under EFT4me; Cycle4Dollars; Online Mega Profits Academy; First Wealth is Health; Common Sense Online Invest; Mlamuli Online Mega Profits; Online Wallet Management; and Empowered Networkers.
Investors in any one of these schemes should come forward and register claims.