Treasury distances self from fake Covid-19 grant

By Talent Kasu

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has distanced itself from messages circulating on social media, inviting entrepreneurs for financial aid, BusinessMail can report.

In a statement, the ministry says the scammers claim that the Department of Local Economic Development has partnered with other stakeholders to provide financial grants to local businesses distressed by Covid-19.

“The messages allege that a Department of Local Economic Development has partnered with the International Development Council and Africa Investment Forum to provide financial for citizen owned businesses. Further, the messages, cite a non-existent Economic Empowerment Act No.9 of 2020 and SI 36 of 2019, which talks about Financial Services Authority (Regulatory Sandbox Exemption),” read part of the statement.

As part of their ploy to hoodwink the public, the scammers also use an address which suggests connection with treasury.

“The public is advised that the Ministry does not have a Department of Local Economic Development and the cited individuals are not Ministry officials. The messages are hereby declared False and should be regarded with the contempt deserved.”

Members of the public were urged to ignore any of the said messages and encouraged to seek verification for information spread via social media before sharing personal information as a measure to guard against loss of private information or financial prejudice.

The ministry further assured the public that investigative efforts are underway through law enforcement agents to bring the perpetrators to book.

Government last year launched a ZWL 18 billion Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package which was aimed at revamping the economy and providing relief to individuals, families, small businesses and industries impacted by the pandemic-induced economic slowdown.

The objective was to provide financial support to all productive sectors of the economy and protect employment through prevention and minimisation of Covid-19 effects.Government usually informs the public of its programmes through mainstream media, although social media platforms also help to augment outreach.

Financial scams are not new to Zimbabwe as many pyramid investment schemes were busted by law enforcement agents last year. Scammers have taken advantage of slow economic activity during lockdowns to attract their victims by promising free money or high return on investments over short periods of time.

Last year, Khaya Dube and Sithokozile Ndhlovu of Bevern Capital were on the run for allegedly masterminding a Ponzi scheme which reportedly fleeced members of the public of almost US $2 million in deposits.

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