A deep-fake video using the doctored image and voice of South African billionaire Elon Musk has fooled investors across the world. In one video created for the South African market and regularly flighted on social media channels, “Musk” outrageously and falsely claims that SA billionaires Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert are investors in his scheme. After being swindled by the con artists, Advocate Petra van Niekerk of the Johannesburg Bar is now determined to expose the scam. In this interview with BizNews, Adv Van Niekerk describes how the false advertising lured her to lose her life savings and shares what her investigations uncovered about an entity which she believes has masterminded the con. She lists all the actions she has taken so far to try and bring it down. She is in contact with other victims, and has appealed to more to come forward so that she can launch a class action suit.
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Relevant timestamps from the interview
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 00:47 – Why did you think the video was real?
- 06:56 – When did you realise that It was a scam?
- 11:59 – What have you learnt?
- 19:21 – Who have you reported to?
- 21:56 – Have you spoken to Dr Rupert?
- 22:59 – Other victims
- 25:26 – Next steps
- 27:34 – Conclusion
Highlights from the interview
A deep-fake video using the doctored image and voice of South African billionaire Elon Musk has fooled investors across the world. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___
In one video created for the South African market and regularly flighted on social media channels, “Musk” outrageously and falsely claims that SA billionaires Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert are investors in his scheme.
Watch the deepfake advertisement below
After being swindled by the con artists, Advocate Petra van Niekerk of the Johannesburg Bar is now determined to expose the scam.
In an interview with BizNews, Adv Van Niekerk describes how the false advertising lured her to lose her life savings and shares what her investigations uncovered about an entity which she believes has masterminded the con. She lists all the actions she has taken so far to try and bring it down.
She is in contact with other victims, and has appealed to more to come forward so that she can launch a class action suit.
The video that trended on social media shows Musk in a TV programme offering all South Africans an opportunity for trade investments in an investment deal called “The Immediate Matrix” and falsely purports that Rupert and Oppenheimer are involved.
Van Niekerk stresses that this is false, misleading, and a scam as there is no connection with Musk, Rupert, or Oppenheimer.
She has reported the entity to various organisations including The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB), the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the SAPS, as well as the National Consumer Commission to try and protect other members of the public from falling prey.
According to Van Niekerk, this entity also falsely indicates on its website that it is registered in the Seychelles. In fact, The Financial Services Authority of Seychelles (FSA) has sent out a Scam Alert to warn that the entity’s website is not linked to any entity licensed or regulated by the FSA in any capacity.
Van Niekerk accuses this entity of breaching section 22(1)(a) of the Companies Act 71 of 2008, as well as section 42 of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 because of its fraudulent conduct and misrepresentation.
And when she searched for the entity on the FSCA’s website to check whether it is an authorised financial service provider in South Africa, she discovered that its Registration Number is dated in 2021, while the Date Authorisation at the FSCA is dated in 2009. She questions how it is possible that the date authorisation could have taken place before the entity was registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in 2021.
Moreover, although the entity trades in Forex and Crypto, she points out that – according to the FSCA’s database – it is not approved to deal with Forex Investments.
Although the FSCA has now sent out a warning about “Immediate Matrix”, See here: it has not warned anyone against this entity. However, Adv van Niekerk insists that it is this entity that sends investors smses and calls them after they enter their details on the Immediate Matrix’s website/ advertisement.
In its statement, FSCA warns the public to be “cautious” when conducting financial services business with Immediate Matrix.
Read the full FSCA statement below
“It has come to the attention of the FSCA that Immediate Matrix may be providing financial services to members of the public without being authorized to do so. Immediate Matrix has used images of well-known individuals, such as Mr Elon Musk and Mr Patrice Motsepe, as part of its advertising and marketing campaign. The FSCA suspects that Immediate Matrix are using the images of these well known personalities without their consent (a so-called deepfake). Without commenting on the business of Immediate Matrix, the FSCA points out that entities offering investments in financial products to South African citizens and/or within South Africa are required to be authorised by the FSCA. Immediate Matrix is not authorized in terms of any financial sector law to provide financial products or render financial services. Immediate Matrix was not available for comment.”
Describing how she fell for the “scam”, Adv Van Niekerk says: “…the way that the video is portrayed…those images are portrayed. It looks real. It looks authentic.”
She has since spoken to Dr Rupert about it, and says: “…he’s as much a victim in this because they are using his identity to promote a false investment opportunity. And he’s also trying everything from his side to put a stop to it. And he also told me that a lot of professionals fell for this, medical doctors, professional people like me as well, and thought this was real and fell for it and lost their money.”
In another development, Adv Van Niekerk has been in touch with another victim who saw an advertisement that used the Citizen newspaper’s logo and slogan to promote an investment opportunity. “…there was no reference or anything to this entity…(but ) she also received an SMS from it, just like me. And then she was contacted telephonically by a representative of this entity to open an account with them…she also lost all her savings…she used her credit card, so she went into debt. So she has to pay that off as well.”
Adv Van Niekerk urges other victims not to fall for being offered a “bonus” in exchange for withdrawing their complaints and keeping quiet.
She assures them that the contracts they entered into is “voidable” and that they should
be placed in the position that they would have been in had this misrepresentation not been made to them. “So they mustn’t think that they are contractually bound and that’s it. Those contracts are voidable because of the misrepresentation. If it had not been for the misrepresentation, they would not have entered into a contract with this entity. They would not have opened accounts with it.
“So please come forward and raise your voices, because together we can stop this this company from defrauding other people and ruining people’s lives because they are ruining people’s lives…and they go for anybody, not just not just professionals…They take their last savings; people that have dependents, people that have disabilities. They they go for all of them and milk them. It’s disgusting. It’s really disgusting. And it must be stopped.”
Meanwhile, Adv Van Niekerk has received this response from the FIC: “We refer to your query to the Financial Intelligence Centre (the FIC), dated 2023/12/20 with query number PQ20231220-005.
“Kindly be advised that this may be a scam.
“Go to https://www.fic.gov.za/scams-awareness/ for further information regarding scams.
“Please report criminal activity to your nearest SAPS.”
She also received this one from the FSCA: “Thank you for directing your complaint against ******** (Pty) Ltd to the Financial Sector Conduct Authority and apologies for the delayed response.
“Kindly note that your complaint is on the assessment process and the outcome will be communicated to you in due course.”
* BizNews has asked the entity for comment. When – or if – it’s response is received, it will be added.
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