Builders caught in tender scam: Some lost R10k for ‘job’ to build jail

Some Eastern Cape construction owners wanting to do business with the state have fallen victim to an alleged massive tender scam that has seen them losing thousands of rands.

The fraudsters issued “a tender” calling for companies to bid for a R1.4-million contract to build a prison in Keiskammahoek.

But in order to secure the government job, the “winning tender” was required to fork out R10000.

They allegedly forged the department of roads and public works logo, letterhead and contact details to try and legitimise the alleged scam.

This is the second time the department has been targeted by fraudsters, who last month tried ‘selling jobs’ for R500 for both the Bhisho and the national office.

A similar scam was reported in Durban two months ago.

“We think it is the same people because they are using the same modus operandi. We appeal to people who have fallen victim to these scams to come forward to our regional offices around the province and report this matter,” provincial roads and public works spokesman Mphumzi Zuzile said.

He said the alleged criminals request the successful applicant to deposit R10000 in order to receive an appointment letter and contract.

“The prospective business is also given a bogus appointment letter with personal details including address and ID number.

“The department of roads and public works is a public entity which is an equal opportunity employer and does not take bribes for any work it advertises.

“For any tender, the department advertises through newspapers, the official website and the provincial tender bulletin that is published every Friday.

“The department does not require any money to be paid by anyone who is applying for a tender advertised,” Zuzile said.

He called on businesses interested in applying for tenders to verify the legitimacy of the tender before making any payments and divulging personal information that “may be used to defraud them or compromise their security in the future”. Zuzile said the alleged scam came to the departments’ attention when one of the bidders came knocking at a senior manager’s office, saying they had the R10000 required to secure the contract.

Shortly thereafter, two people phoned the office, saying they wanted their money back, which they claimed to have already paid.

“We don’t want to assume that this is an inside job. That is why we have involved crime intelligence and the police,” Zuzile said, adding that police had been alerted to the alleged scam but no case was opened.

The swindlers also used a national government coat of arms for the letterhead, provincial addresses and contact details “to show that this is not an authentic document”.

Government departments appear to be easy targets for alleged fraudsters, as the Eastern Cape health department also warned desperate job seekers recently against falling prey to people who claimed to sell jobs at the department.

This came after the department announced that it would embark on a massive recruitment drive to fill doctors’, nurses’ and general workers’ vacancies. — zikhonam@dispatch.co.za

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