Religious financial services: what could possible go wrong?
Religious leaders in South Africa are increasingly being used to promote financial products.
And guess what – some of the products stink to high heaven.
According to this report, Eckhard Volker, Managing Director of Integrated Forensic Accounting Services, claimed that the involvement of religious leaders was a “problem”.
This is a problem because people completely trust their pastors. They take whatever their pastors tell them as absolute proof.
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) recently launched a campaign to raise awareness among the public about different methods used by scam artists to defraud them. It said that the word of religious leaders, and recommendations by friends and family are often used as proof of credibility.
One credit provider, Stream Knowledge Finance, offered loans to consumers without conducting any credit checks. After viewing its application form, Volker said it was consistent with the characteristics associated with a “419 scam” or a “Nigerian Letter” scam.
I believe this to be an example of what is referred to as ‘advance fee fraud’, where the applicant would be required to make some type of advanced payment for the loan to be ‘released’, probably again and again.
The application form is signed off by “Rev Joe Stewart”. Volker said that the use of the word “reverend” is misused to give an applicant a false sense of comfort.
This suggests that they are dealing with a person of integrity and high moral fibre, when the exact opposite might apply.
He added that it was unusual that a reverend would hold the position of head of a loan department.
But Stewart, the head of the loan department at Stream Knowledge Finance,insisted that it was not a scam.
It is not possible for us to be a scam, we are registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR).