A huge international scam masquerading as a United Nations humanitarian agency targeting the poor and vulnerable is reported to be operating in Botswana.
The scheme was exposed recently after it emerged that it had already lured more than 500 000 poor and vulnerable South Africans into spending money enrolling in a humanitarian programme with a promise that they would benefit from grant vouchers for life. In South Africa, applicants registered to access the voucher at a cost of R50 ÔÇô broken down into R20 for photos, R20 for a certificate of application and R10 to set up their email account.
The “UN Swissindo M1 Voucher” programme which uses a similar logo to that of the United has been banned in most African countries and has now decided to relocate to Botswana and South Africa, it has emerged.
The City Press Newspaper in South Africa this week tracked down the key figure behind the programme Diaku Dianzenza who confirmed that he was implementing the programme in South Africa and Botswana. He said the programme had been halted in Africa following information that there were people charging communities ÔÇô something that he alleges was unacceptable.
The UN office in South Africa has distanced itself from the “humanitarian” programme, claiming it was a scam. The office issued a statement that, “there are many people around the world who come up with schemes on how to exploit the name of the UN to swindle innocent people of their money. South Africa is not an exception. For instance, there are people and organisations on the internet that masquerade as recruitment agencies for the UN and ask candidates to pay a fee in order to have their job applications processed. Hence all vacancies advertised by the UN inserts a disclaimer that the UN does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process. The UN in SA is not in any way, shape or form involved in this alleged project; we have nothing to do with it,” the UN said in a statement.
The UN said that is did not charge a fee of any kind for providing humanitarian assistance to local communities.
“The UN first received informal reports about this scheme [UN Swissindo] some weeks ago and immediately reported it to local law enforcement agencies. We are working with the police to get to the bottom of this practice,” the statement said.
The local UN office appealed to anyone “who is or has been asked, by any person or organisation, to pay any type of fee for receiving humanitarian assistance from the UN to immediately report such practices to their nearest police station or local authorities”.
The City press was first alerted three weeks ago about a possible scam involving a United Nations organisation, which claims to have been formed by an Indonesian king whose aim is to distribute his wealth.
The South African department of international relations and cooperation however said it did not have any knowledge of a foreign king offering humanitarian vouchers to South Africans and said it would investigate the matter.