A number of Cipro employees have been suspended pending the outcome of a complete fraud investigation at Cipro (Companies & Intellectual Property Registration Office). In addition, some cases have been opened with the South African Police Services (SAPS) against individuals who falsely claimed to be agents of Cipro to commit fraud.
This is according to Keith Sendwe, CEO of Cipro, who says the investigation to date has revealed that the fraudsters falsely claimed associations with entities that were registered on Cipro’s database in order to clone legitimate businesses for financial gain.
“Within Cipro we have zero tolerance when it comes to fraud," Sendwe says. "An internal fraud investigation, which commenced in January this year, has resulted in a number of changes and the general tightening up of procedures in order to combat fraud.
"The ‘cloning scam’ was only recently uncovered and a special, multi-disciplinary task team has since been appointed by the management of Cipro, in order to conduct a full investigation into the extent of the problem. Our aim is to bring those responsible for this crime to book and to put a watertight action plan in place to prevent any future reoccurrence of this heinous crime.
Sendwe adds: "A number of companies have incurred considerable financial losses through the callousness of individuals who participate in these fraudulent activities. We have locked down our systems in order to make fraudulent activities of this nature impossible in the future and will be prosecuting the perpetrators of these crimes.”
In the interim, Cipro has put a number of systems in place to safeguard companies from fraudulent activities, he says.
“Apart from bringing these fraudsters to book, the management of Cipro is doing everything within its power to further improve and strengthen systems and processes in order to combat fraudulent activities. One such measure includes the implementation, with immediate effect, of ‘Practice Note Number 5’ indicating changes in the lodgement of name reservations. Additional information is also required from the applicant should an association with an existing company be applicable."
According to Sendwe, the new customer verification system is another way in which Cipro is clamping down on fraud.
“We recently launched the customer verification system whereby customers need to be verified and authenticated by a registered Commissioner of Oaths before they will be allowed to effect electronic changes on their company profile. This ‘human intervention’ will go a long way in assisting us in rooting out fraudulent activities.”