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SARB investigating alleged Ponzi scheme

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is investigating the rampant Travel Ventures International Express get rich quick scheme which promises to make millionaires of everyone who joins. Run and promoted by high-profile black socialites such as top DJ Alex Mthiyane of the popular Igagasi 99.5 FM radio station, it has thousands of would-be millionaires attending its presentations in KZN and the Eastern Cape.

Its leaders have repeatedly denied rumours that the scheme is about to collapse.

SARB has confirmed that it was investigating whether the scheme was collecting money from the public illegally.

The Reserve Bank has previously shut down a get rich quick scheme that saw about 3000 people lose R73m in Ngede Mineral Holdings (NMH).

It has the power to close down TVI Express if it is found to be a pyramid scheme and it can lay criminal charges against the organisers of the scheme as it did in the case of Goodman Goqo of NMH, who faces more than 4000 counts of fraud.

Meanwhile, provincial police spokesperson Col Vincent Mdunge yesterday declared TVI Express a “genuine scam”. “We are going to get to the bottom of it.”

The scheme claims it had created at least 35 millionaires by Christmas last year. This was said at public meeting when about 2000 eager investors packed the Durban Exhibition Centre as a smartly-dressed brigade of motivational speakers told the gathering of the company’s “amazing growth and changing lives” promise.

Siya Mhlongo, a presenter of a religious programme at Igagasi 99.5 FM, led the charge in an event that often sounded like a church festival.

He was followed by celebrity pastors and motivational speakers Sithembiso Zondo and Thomas Hadebe, amid singing, chanting and clapping from the audience, attracted by the “how to become a millionaire banners”.

Zondo claimed he had already got a return of R100000 from his investment.

Detractors of the scheme, who have expressed fears that it could be another Ponzi scheme – dubbed ibhanoyi in isiZulu, after the many pyramid schemes that eventually crashed – have been roundly condemned as “people against black people becoming wealthy”.