Fishing Industry News has already reported on the fraudulent conduct of a con-man called Yusuf Achmat who presents himself as the "owner" of a defunct close corporation called MALAFA FISHING CC. Achmat is neither the "owner" nor a member of Malafa Fishing. Malafa does not own any assets and does not have any fishing quotas. Achmat himself owns nothing accept what he has recently purchased from his criminal proceeds (a car, expensive watches etc). He lives in Fairways on the Cape Flats in his mother-in-law's house.
Achmat has gone on a prolific defrauding spree in the fishing industry this year alone. Relying on the fact that (for some odd reason) many industry operators will happily accept being defrauded without even reporting the fraud to the SAPS, let alone suing for the recovery of the money, Mr Achmat appears to have stolen approximately R355,000 from commercial operators in the fishing industry and has become bolder as he continues to escape sanction, until now at least.
Achmat's ruse is a simple one. He pretends that his "company", Malafa Fishing, owns or controls or has shares in quota holders and that he is authorised to sell these quotas either outright or for the season BUT requires an upfront deposit on signature of any agreement (which he happily albeit fraudulently signs even warranting that he is duly authorised to sell the fish concerned). Once the fraudulent agreement is concluded and the funds deposited, he cancels the contracts or simply switches off his mobile phone as he is unable to produce any of the documents required to obtain the fishing permits he "sold".
He then moves on to his next prey.
In his latest scam, he tries to de-fraud a foreign buyer of fish looking to purchase west coast rock lobsters. The entire record of his fraud is eloquently captured in a series of emails where Achmat commits a series of frauds and other criminal offences. Achmat claims to "own" a 15 ton lobster quota and has 2 tons of purged lobsters immediately ready for export. But he requires an immediate US$4,000 deposit for which he issues a fraudulent invoice in violation of the VAT Act. In a bid to convince the buyer that he actually has 2 tons of lobsters, Achmat issues to the buyer a series of pictures of lobsters and traps which are just bad cut-and-pastes from Google Images!
Once the buyer confirmed that the US$4000 deposit was made, Achmat promptly issued an email canceling the agreement to provide the 2 tons of lobsters.
It is a criminal offence under the Marine Living Resources Act to in any way front oneself as a harvester, processor or exporter of fish or fish products without being in possession of the requisite permits and rights.
In a bid to further legitimise his claims and to conclude the fraudulent transaction, Achmat even criminally impersonates Feike's Shaheen Moolla by issuing an email to the buyer in Moolla's name claiming that Moolla is his marketer! This amounted to a further crime - that of criminal impersonation which is an extremely serious fraud affecting large parts of our economy.
Our message is to avoid Malafa Fishing CC and Yusuf Achmat like the plague. Feike has identified a number of international websites on which Achmat has placed adverts that he "harvests, processes and exports" South African lobsters and have informed the administrators of these sites that Achmat is a known fraudster and con-man who does not have any right to harvest, process or export any South African fish and fish products. In order to protect the South African fishing industry, legitimate right holders and marketers in the industry may also want to warn their foreign colleagues to not enter into correspondence with this fraudster. (Of course one ought to never conduct business with people whose sole contact points are a cell phone and an email address with yahoo, hotmail or google!)
Feike has reported Achmat and Malafa Fishing CC to both the Department of Fisheries for criminal violations of the MLRA and to SARS for violations of the Income Tax Act and the VAT Act.