WARNING: WhatsApp gifting or Stockvel is a pyramid scheme scam

Joining Whatsapp gifting or stockvel will end in tears because it is a new pyramid scheme scam. Whatsapp gifting look and sound real because you are recruited by people you know or people you are in the same group with. But at the end it will collapse and many people will not get their payment including people you recruited.

What is a WhatsApp Gifting or stokvel?

Yet another ‘quick buck’ digital scheme has hit South Africa. This time, it’s WhatsApp gifting or stokvels. How do these work? People are recruited to join a WhatsApp gifting or stokvel group (using a WhatsApp chat group) by paying a joining fee. So, in order to be added to the group, you have to pay up. The average joining fee is R200, with the promise of around R1 000 return if you recruit two people into the group.

When WhatsApp stokvels go wrong…

“My aunt recruited me for a WhatsApp gifting or Stokvel,” says Mbali, a student at the University of Johannesburg. “I didn’t trust it at first until I was contacted by the group admin. She sent me voice notes talking me through the process.

“I paid the joining fee of R200 and had to recruit two people – which I did – in order to receive the R1 000. But I never received my money. I kept silent about not receiving my R1 000 payment because screenshots of proof of payments were being shared in the WhatsApp group. I hoped I would still receive mine.

“Weeks went by and I still hadn’t received my payment. At that time, my aunt hadn’t received any more payments that were promised to her either. I decided to message people from the group privately, and that’s when people started to leave the group. My aunt was left as group admin, and the only people left in the group were the people my aunt and I had recruited. Embarrassed and ashamed of what we had recruited people into, my aunt tried contacting the initial group admin, only to find that now the number didn’t exist. We also discovered that the payments we made to join were done using untraceable methods so that they didn’t link to the receiver.”

WhatsApp gifting or stokvels: a new look for age-old pyramid schemes

WhatsApp gifting or stokvels aren’t like traditional stokvels – in fact, they work like a pyramid scheme, where participants earn money by finding new participants. Another name for a pyramid scheme is a Ponzi scheme. Pyramid or Ponzi schemes work by recruiting investors, who in turn get promised payment or returns if they recruit more people. The reality is that the person at the top of the scheme collects all the money, and those being recruited further down rarely see all, if any, of what was promised to them. The first few people to join or invest reap the rewards and the rest, typically, lose money. In South Africa, these types of schemes are illegal and you should avoid them, as your money is not secure with them.

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