Training providers being scammed 11

Corporate Wise recently reported an incident where a scam artist used their accreditation information and brand name to perform training. Training providers are now being warned to watch out for similar suspicious behaviour. This is their story:

On Thursday of last week our Durban office was contacted by a company asking if we had an employee working for us in Cape Town. It turns out that a gentlemen by the name of Vusi, working as a broker for HA Group, had taken our Accreditation Certificate and used it as his own! When CorporateWise was asked to train by HA Group for one of their clients in July last year, we were asked to send relevant documentation – Accreditation details, Tax Clearance Certificate, BBBEE certificate etc. The client was reputable and we sent the documentation and the training was completed. Subsequent to this we received one email from Vusi asking what unit standard our Train the Trainer workshop was aligned to and a further email enquiring about an Email Etiquette workshop. No other correspondence requesting information about workshops or booking workshops was entered into.

Vusi advised this client that CorporateWise was conducting a Train the Trainer workshop on the 17th to 19th March (we were not). He sent to the client all necessary documentation and booked the training – at a very high rate – and provided them with our certificate. He then contacted the client to say that CorporateWise’s workshop was fully booked but he would set up another workshop. When the delegate arrived at the workshop he’d set up it was a Skills Development Facilitator workshop! When the client queried this he said there was nothing he could do and he could not reimburse them as he had incurred costs!

The client then contacted our offices in Durban. If he is doing this type of thing to providers and, subsequently messing clients around, this will have a very negative impact on the reputations of the providers whom he is “using”. We do not know who else Vusi has trained using CorporateWise credentials and we urge other providers to be aware that if they are approached by this gentlemen, they should not give him documentation. We also urge clients who are approached by brokers who are unknown to them to establish their credentials with a view to ensuring that the training is being conducted by a Registered and Accredited provider.

Kathryn Gerber

Corporate Wise

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11 thoughts on “Training providers being scammed

  • Carla Van Veenendaal

    Kindly note that the following is not a binding legal opinion, hence the maybe’s and “appears”.

    Cindy, as you rightly say, this appears to be fraudulent conduct and you can go to the police, especially since it would appear that 1) Vusi made money in a fraudulent manner  2) it might appear that he also created false documentation.  If more cases like these come out, please approach the legal advisory committee of APPETD as further steps of getting a specialised investigator from the SAPS is necessary.  I have been concerned about the fact that a stack of documentation is required as it creates the possibility of fraud. Although it is possible to put electronic safety catches in place, there is always the risk that a party may simply create similar looking documentation on paper.  I have seen this happen on various occasions in other fields.  I would suggest using watermarks or including a paragraph that states the documentation is not genuine unless originally signed by the current CEO, or something similar.  Or insist on the return of the documentation. 

    If this conduct damages the reputation of your organisation, it would appear that you may also lodge a civil suit against Vusi.  However, you would have to carefully consult with an attorney on this as there are other risks you may run.

    Maybe this must be taken up with the SETA’s?  They also run the risk of giving out tenders/contracts and paying out good money for shoddy/fraudulent work.

    Another risk for risk committees of companies to take note of ….. 

  • sylvia hammond

    Hi John Thanks for your concern.  But just to clarify – Cindy is a senior reporter at Portal Publishing.  We are online publishers and don’t provide training so it’s not our reputation being damaged.  The report is based upon information received from the training provider.

  • Leon & Elsabe Diederichs

    Now a lot of things make more sense to me. We received a call from the SETA the other day, notifying us of a Verification Visit at a Training Site where we supposedly conducted a Learnership. It took an effort to convince them that  we did not complete a Learnership on this specific site, and that we were not aware of the fact that a Learnership has been allocated to us year ago.  We left it there because we thought they mistaken with anther service provider. What a coincidence?

  • Hilmer Johannes Backer

    Hi Cindy,

    This situation is not all that happens in the Skill training field. I am a freelance trainer mainly on lifting equipment and other safety training for a few providers.

    Fraudulent certificates are flying all over. I have contacted TETA and I am impressed with their support. The crisis of this situation as that when a “employee ” present the certificate the employer, the employer has no means of ensuring that it is a lawful certificate.

     On a certificate the provider’s name and contact numbers must be available according to the old Code of conduct. When I had this gut feeling that this certificate is  a fraud, I contacted the provider. During the investigation  I did not provide the provider with all the information but requested him to fill in the outstanding information on the certificate. This method helps to sort some fraudulent certificates.

    I will gladly assist those providers or clients who are not sure of the lawfulness of certificates. You are welcome to contact me

  • Renee' McGibbon

    This kind of behaviour is horrific and creates a perception that the training industry as a whole is fraudulent. Those of us who have achieved accreditation by having the proper mechanisms in place to conduct quality assured training initiatives are unfortunately viewed negatively with the unscrupulous lot! Thank you for informing us of this Kathryn.


  • Moira De Roche

    This is scary. We always send off a whole lot of documentation to procurement people, with no guarantees that it will not be abused by some crook. I wonder how we can fix this – perhaps using an electronic signature on certificates that have to be verified?