Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
3 minute read
24 Sep 2020
10:05 am

Beware WhatsApp stokvel groups: An old pyramid scheme in a new jacket

Ina Opperman

During lockdown, one pyramid scheme alone swindled at least 230,000 investors out of more than R42 million between 4 May 2020 and 2 July 2020.

(Photo by Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP)

If you think the pandemic is the scariest thing you will ever see in your life, take a look at the many WhatsApp “stokvel” groups on Facebook where people invite others to join them in what are clearly pyramid schemes. Some of these groups have around 3,000 to 11,000 members. These schemes are stripping the most vulnerable people in the country from their last cash reserves in a time when millions are unemployed and the economy is in recession. You cannot help but wonder how many people will go to bed hungry tonight because they lost their last R50? Invest200,...