Scam Hits

As in every other field of business in South Africa, the confidence tricksters have woken up to the fact that South African liquor licence holders can also be tricked into making payments of money unnecessarily. Over the last week or two, there have seen SMS’s sent out to the cell number of many liquor licence holders throughout Johannesburg and Cape Town. The message is very simple: If you do not make payment of an extra amount of R250.00 your liquor licence will effectively lapse.

NOTE: This does not effect holders or applicants of Temporary Liquor Licences in Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban.

The Liquor Boards have fortunately reacted to the situation, and the Eastern Cape is the first of the Liquor Boards to have sent out letters to licensees and Attorneys and Consultants specialising in liquor licence applications and renewals advising that this is, in fact, a con. The situation is also being investigated by the South African Police Services.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN LIQUOR LICENCE INDUSTRY

Some questions have arisen over the sending of the SMS’s as this has been quite clearly affected by a professional group (perhaps those with an intimate knowledge of the Liquor Licence application process or even ex-Liquor Licence specialists themselves) who know exactly what they are doing. The first and most important question is: where did they obtain the cell phone numbers of the licencees? Fortunately, this cannot be laid at the doorstep of most of the Liquor Boards as their records are generally not up to date and many of the Boards do not have the cell phone numbers of licencees on the record anyway.

The second is that this group obviously works regularly in the field of liquor licences as the sum of R250.00 is not a random figure. Firstly, in the provinces where the old National Liquor Act is still in force, this is the renewal fee for a restaurant liquor licence. In the other provinces, it is a far smaller figure than the usual R3 000.00 or similar which is payable for the renewal of liquor licence, but it comes back to the R250.00 which was payable on renewal of liquor licences many years ago. This makes sense to any of the older restauranteurs who receive this SMS, increasing the likelihood that they would comply with the fraudulent instruction.

Another point on the choice of R250.00. This is clearly an amount which could very easily be paid by any restauranteur or licencee without challenging the validity of the SMS. A larger amount would automatically have resulted in the licencee contacting his Consultant or the Liquor Board to query the payment.

WHAT STEPS ARE BEING TAKEN

In many cases this was drawn to the attention of Liquor Attorneys and Liquor Consultants (as well as Liquor Board Officials) by the licencees and the police have taken immediate action. The account involved in the original SMS has been closed and a new account has been opened by the scamsters. Subsequent SMS’s have again been sent out with the new account details.

Many licencees are now seeing the benefit of conducting all aspects regarding their liquor licences through an Attorney such as Leon Slotow Attorneys as they are aware that they are protected by a professional South African Liquor Licence consultant and it is a given that the necessary is being done to maintain their licences and keep them valid. They know full well that they would never be contacted directly by a Liquor Board or by anybody else other than Leon Slotow Attorneys regarding their liquor licence renewal or any payments which are required to maintain their liquor licences.

Obviously, the scam was successful as the scamsters opened their second bank account once the first one was closed by the police and would not have done so if the scam had not been working. Now that the scamsters have found a receptive market I have no doubt that they will once again approach South African liquor licence holders on some sort of basis to extort money from them.

HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE SCAM SMS? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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