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WhatsApp stokvels are back but they're still illegal & scamming people

The modus operandi is that people will be paid out by other members of the group when it is their turn on the list.

Picture: pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - Just when we thought we'd seen the back of the notorious WhatsApp stokvels at the end of 2019, they've made a return at the most opportune time when many are struggling financially due to the effects of the coronavirus. However, these are still not operating within financial laws.

WhatsApp stokvels began booming last year all over social media where people were forming groups inviting others to join and contribute a certain amount of money (usually around R200) and receive a payout of anything ranging from R1,000 and up after a few days.

Members either know each other personally, know each other through a mutual contact or are even total strangers who know nothing about each other.

The modus operandi is that people will be paid out by other members of the group when it is their turn on the list. However, oftentimes, people get scammed by unscrupulous members who run off after they have been paid - never to be heard from again.

Last year, Eyewitness News interviewed a few people who fell victim to such scammers. The victims expressed regret over losing money, no matter how small it may have seemed.

The 'revamped' version has the same model, but some stokvels are now working with bigger amounts such as R1,000 "investments" for a R6,000 payout.

Listen to the audio below to find out why these stokvels are not lawful and how to avoid getting scammed.