Couple and their daughter bust for R73m pyramid scheme

The fraud and money laundering case against three members of a KwaZulu-Natal family who are accused of running a multi-million-rand pyramid scheme has been moved to Durban commercial crime court.

Patricia de Beer, 53, her husband Malcom de Beer, 54, and their daughter Samantha de Beer’, 31, were each granted a R50 000 bail this week.

The trio appeared in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate’s court for charges of theft worth  over R73.6-million. 

Unsuspecting masses lured to invest

According to the charge sheet, the De Beers ran an unregistered investment scheme known as Coin-it Trading. It required investors to make a one-time deposit for equipment such as trucks and tractors.

They were promised a monthly profit derived from the heavy equipment. The unsuspecting investors were promised 200% returns within a period of three years after investing.

But the pyramid scheme crashed, resulting in scores of people losing their money. The swindled clients called for an investigation into the company’s affairs in desperate bid  to recoup their money.

Not registered

“Coin-it was not authorised to accept deposits from investors. The state alleges the entity was not registered as a financial services provider and contravened the legislation by not having the prescribed licence,” explained National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara. 

Coin-it branches were mostly in KwaZulu-Natal towns such as Dundee, Newcastle and Vryheid. It also had another office in Johannesburg. Following complaints from people who never received any money on their investments, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) conducted its own probe and concluded that Coin-it was not a legit investment scheme. 

The Pietermaritzburg High Court’s decision to grant a liquidation order for the sale of Coin-it-related assets marked the beginning of the company’s demise. The trio were subsequently hunted down to face the consequences of their actions.

The FSCA is an agency responsible for market conduct, regulation and supervision.

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