Victims of an Ant-Ranch scam urged to come forward

Geese were among the animals investors could purchase, in what police have described as a scam. Picture: Bongani Mbatha / Independent Newspapers

Geese were among the animals investors could purchase, in what police have described as a scam. Picture: Bongani Mbatha / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 15, 2024


The South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Eastern Cape are calling on victims of an online scam to come forward, as police have successfully obtained a preservation order on one of the six bank accounts used to dupe potential investors.

The SAPS’ Commercial Crime Investigation Unit in East London has been investigating the matter.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu said it is alleged that in 2023, people joined an investment known as Ant-Ranch where they registered online to be ranchers.

She said people invested money to purchase animals like geese, snakes, donkeys etc.

However, they were not receiving the actual animals, this was just a way of labelling the investment.

“The prices of the animals differed according to their sizes and the rancher would receive dividends daily, depending on the type and price of the animal one has purchased.

“Money to purchase these animals was deposited by the ranchers into more than six different bank accounts with different references. There was no direct communication with the people who were liaising with the ‘clients’ during their period of investment – communication was only done through WhatsApp messages.

“A substantial amount of money was being invested as the ranchers saw a return on their investment deposited into their accounts daily. Due to the fact that they could see their investment thriving, they did not withdraw their increases, instead some left it to increase while others invested more money,” Naidu said.

On October 10, 2023, when the investors logged into the Ant-Ranch system to check on their investments, the system was blocked and they could not gain access to anything.

The WhatsApp numbers used during communication no longer existed and everyone who investigated were swindled and lost their money.

“A case of fraud was opened, and to date, there are seven complainants (five are from East London and two from Gqeberha). Police believe that there could be more victims of this scam.

“As the investigation unfolded, the investigating officer succeeded, with the assistance of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, to freeze one of the accounts and a Preservation Order was obtained.

“Police are now appealing to victims of this particular fraud to come forward before February 21, 2024, so that monies can be paid out to them, failing which the monies will be forfeited to the State,” Naidu said.

Police have urged residents to be wary of investment schemes promising hefty returns and requesting deposits into multiple bank accounts.

“These are red flags, signalling potential scams, prompting caution and vigilance among investors,” Naidu said.

Detective Sergeant Ayanda Ntobongwana from the East London Commercial Crime Investigation Unit may be contacted on 043 708 7178 or 043 708 7174, or at 072 393 9353 (WhatsApp messages only) with all your particulars/ proof etc). She will respond or make contact with the sender. When contacting the investigating officer, reference your response to the Ant-Ranch case.

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