By Anna Shilongo
There is a multiplication in the ranks of self-appointed "consultants" who are making a killing from the death benefits earmarked for ignorant and freshly bereaved families, particularly in rural areas.
Among them is a war veteran who is among the ex-combatants who are demanding compensation of thousands of dollars for their trouble during the liberation struggle.
The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) has cautioned its customers to beware of fake consultants who claim they can help desperate clients to get their money the quickest way possible.
GIPF Public Relations Manager, Elvis Nashilongo, told New Ea yesterday there are "some consultants" who are going out to illiterate people, especially those in remote areas, to claim their money through them at a given fee.
Although Nashilongo could not provide the figure of customers who have fallen prey to this scam, he says they are tarnishing the company's name because they purport to be registered by the GIPF.
Nashilongo added that the bogus consultants are ripping off vulnerable orphans of the little money they inherit from their loved ones.
He urged GIPF customers to always verify the credentials of so-called consultants before they engage their services.
He explained that the GIPF does not use consultants. "We have regional officers countrywide and we advise our members, their dependants and pensioners to use our regional officers if they are in doubt," he said.
Beneficiaries are also provided with transport and accommodation arrangements, said Nashilongo, while those who are not in possession of national documents are assisted so that they have access to these documents.
In most cases, he said, these people are not aware of what they sign. They are only given contracts to sign without their knowledge.
Once the contract is signed, it allows consultants to have the full power of attorney over the ignorant beneficiary's money.
Beneficiaries are taken to the bank to cash their cheques after which the middleman will claim 20 percent of the portion, said the PR manager. "To make it worse, beneficiaries are not even given copies of the contracts they signed."
Sharing similar sentiments, GIPF General Manager, Marketing and Public Relations Communications, Maria Dax, said the GIPF Act prohibits middlemen. That is why they have regional officers to assists clients.
Dax maintained that the GIPF has been on radio for the past few months alerting the public with information concerning their claims and how they should go about getting their money, but despite the company's efforts in
sensitizing the community, there were still fraudulent cases being reported by individuals after their being ripped off.
The GIPF is however calling on any person who suspects that he/she might have been ripped off in this manner to contact their offices as soon as possible.
Dax says most of these "consultants" claim to be registered with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Concern was raised through the NBC chat shows about where these people get hold of beneficiaries's information, but Dax suspects they could be recruiting people in the villagers to scout for potential victims.
She assured the public that the GIPF was going to fight tooth and nail to combat false so-called consultants that make use of the GIPF name.
"We cannot allow the name of our company to be used for dirty tricks - this practice has to come to an end."
Perpetrators of this practice who are tarnishing the GIPF's name would face the music, warned Dax. New Era Reporter
2007-06-07 00:00:00 | 13 years ago