Banking group FNB became suspicious about the company’s trading activities due to the unusually high volume of transactions on the account and froze it pending investigation.
One investor says she has R110 000 invested with Van der Merwe and is now facing up to the possibility that she’s been duped, with no response from Van der Merwe.
“My friend and I are going to their offices today to demand our refunds after numerous requests by email that went ignored,” she told Business.
Business’s repeated attempts throughout the week to reach Van der Merwe were unsuccessful.
The director of micro-retailer SuraPure Drinks, Van der Merwe was a former member of Defencex, the scheme that lost its investors millions of rands. He also headed an apparent Defencex copycat NaxaInvest, which promised investors 2%-a-day returns.
Last year, the Financial Services Board (FSB) warned the public against conducting business with NaxaInvest, a forex investment service provider.
The FSB said that NaxaInvest was not an authorised financial services provider and, contrary to what Van der Merwe told Business at the time, had not applied for a licence to be registered.
The JSE also warned at the time that Naxa was not a registered member of the exchange.
Van der Merwe is the director of eight registered companies, including NaxaPhase CC and SuraFin CC.
SuraPure investors were e-mailed late on Thursday night and informed that the company’s Facebook page needed to be shut down “with Immediately effect” (sic).
“The comments on Facebook is very negative especially when you are preparing for an Urgent Application,” the communication with members says.
The “urgent application” referred to will be brought against FNB by SuraPure’s legal team, Schindlers Attorneys, next week, in order to have SuraPure’s account unfrozen.
Access to SuraPure’s “Latest news and events” on its website is now available only via log in (it was freely available previously).
But one investor told Business that even SuraPure members could not access this news. “Once I log in, there is absolutely no option to check latest news. We can only access account details such as profile info, banking details, orders and cashbook. So in actual fact, even members have no way of knowing what is happening,” she said.
The investor, an MBA graduate, says she was highly sceptical of SuraPure at first, but when she earned R9 000 profit off an initial R5 000 investment, her interest grew. “I buy for the consumption of my own household, too,” she said. She decided to invest an additional R110 000 in total and has made a R13 600 profit back on this amount. “I’m worried that I won’t get my money back and am very embarrassed for having fallen for such a scheme,” she said.
She noted that on its Facebook page, SuraPure had previously promised to refund members who were unhappy with the business, but that now they were refusing to.