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RE_Fraud-alert

Scammers selling fake FSCA regulatory exam certificates on social media

Scammers operating on social media are defrauding people by claiming they can issue certificates for the FSCA’s regulatory exams. At least two of these scammers claim to work at Moonstone’s Sandton’s exam venue.

Since early last year, Moonstone has been documenting complaints – along with supporting screen shots and emails – from students who have paid for exam bookings, passes or certificates – only for the scammer to “disappear” after the money has been paid.

Of course, anyone who agrees to take up one of these “generous offers” isn’t exactly an innocent victim.

In some of their messages, the fraudsters compare getting a “guaranteed RE pass” to obtaining a (fake) “driver’s licence”.

One of the most prolific operators goes by the name of “Remon Nicholson”. In an exchange of WhatsApp messages in August last year with a “candidate”, he claimed to work at Moonstone in Sandton, have access to exam question papers and be involved in marking papers. He told his “client” (message copied verbatim): “You dont need to study, You write your Regulatory Exam, I take over your exam and deal with it.” In another message, he told the “candidate”: “Okay, you only pay for the booking, then you pay for the RE after you write.” The “candidate” transferred the requested R1 200 “booking fee” to a Capitec account and waited for the promised invoice from “Remon’RE” (his name on WhatsApp).

“Remon” even provided a telephone number so that his clients can supposedly verify that he works for Moonstone. The number is for the reception desk of Sinosteel Plaza in Sandton, where Moonstone’s exam venue is housed. The reception desk, however, cannot verify the identity of Moonstone employees.

Moonstone’s examinations department has discovered that a “Remon Junior Nicholson” registered twice – in March 2018 and February 2019 – for the RE5 exam in Sandton. He failed badly in 2018 and was marked as “absent” in 2019. In April this year, a search on the FSCA website, using his identity number, revealed that “Remon” was linked to an FSP based in Gauteng. However, the same identity number is currently not linked to any FSP.

In another scam, in January this year, five “candidates” paid “Remon” R1 260 each to write the exams. “Remon” sent them fake exam date reminder notifications. One of the “candidates” said they met “Remon” at a McDonald’s and were then escorted to a venue to “write their exams”. None of them had, in fact, been registered to write the exams on that day.

Moonstone has a copy of a fake certificate – bearing the FSCA’s and Moonstone’s logos – issued by “Remon”.

This highlights the need for employers to conduct a thorough check on a prospective employee’s educational qualifications and not simply to accept what could pass for an authentic certificate.

We have also documented complaints about two other individuals using a similar modus operandi to “Remon”. These individuals operate under the names “Grant” (he uses two similar surnames, both starting with “E”) and “Jessica”. “Grant”, who also claims to be a Moonstone employee, and “Jessica” sometimes seem to work together.

There is a common thread linking “Remon”, “Grant” and “Jessica”: they all use the same Capitec account number under the name of “SA Essack”. Of course, they could be one and the same person operating under assumed names.

Last year, when one of his “unhappy customers” managed to contact “Grant”, he threatened her, and read out her personal details, including where she worked and when she was paid, and said he would ensure that not a cent of her salary would appear in her bank account. She closed her bank account and opened a new one.

Moonstone has reported these cases to the FSCA and has advised the defrauded individuals to complain to Capitec and lay charges with the police.

Sole accredited exam provider

Moonstone is the only institution approved by the FSCA to provide regulatory exams in South Africa. Moonstone adheres to the FSCA’s strict policies and protocols governing the setting of questions, the invigilation of exams, and the marking of papers.

Anyone who poses as a Moonstone employee and claims they can “facilitate” exam bookings or “guarantee” passes or RE certificates in return for a fee is trying to scam you.

Our exams department is based in our offices in Stellenbosch. Exam papers are not set or marked anywhere else in South Africa. You can find the contact details, as well as the dates of the upcoming exams and the venues at https://www.moonstone.co.za/services/regulatory-exam-body/

While on the subject of dodgy characters, it should also be pointed out that Moonstone does not endorse any person or institution that offers courses to prepare for the regulatory exams. Anyone who claims that their training courses or study material is endorsed by, or is affiliated to, Moonstone is trying to deceive you.

The FSCA also does not accredit, recommend or approve training providers.

Neither Moonstone nor any of its employees is permitted to provide training or study material for the regulatory exams. We only provide students with the exam preparation guides supplied by the FSCA, which are also available on the regulator’s website.

Before exam candidates pay for courses or study materials, they should check whether the courses or material will, in fact, prepare them for the exam. Is the material up to date and aligned with the preparation guide? To find out what you need to know to prepare for the exams, visit the FSCA’s website (www.fsca.co.za) and go to “Regulated entities” > “FAIS” > “Fit and proper”. Here you will find the legislation, subordinate legislation and notices on which students will tested in the four different regulatory exams.

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4 Responses to Scammers selling fake FSCA regulatory exam certificates on social media

  1. Jean Kruger 20 September 2021 at 5:54 pm #

    Very good article Mark,

    I cannot believe people would pay for certificates, when if spend a little time in studying for the exams, you actually achieve something valuable in your career.

    By the way, the exams is not that difficult if you did prepare in time.

    Be blessed. To your success!
    Jean

  2. Paul 21 September 2021 at 8:06 am #

    I would believe that anyone paying a fee for an obviously fraudulent qualification would not be fit to be employed in this industry or for that matter any other.

  3. Hamilton 21 September 2021 at 8:33 am #

    Moonstone should assist the FSPs in validating the candidates RE5s. Currently employers have absolutely no means of verifying the validity of an RE5 and Moonstone send one from “pillar to post” when calling in to query verify the certificates.

    • Mark Bechard 21 September 2021 at 9:42 am #

      Hi
      Our exams department provided me with the following information:
      Authentication requests can be forwarded directly to Moonstone on faisexam@moonstoneinfo.co.za
      Moonstone doesn’t verify any result or information to a third party, but we do authenticate certificates issued by Moonstone.
      Authentication requests must be accompanied by a copy of the candidate’s ID/Passport and RE certificate/s, together with a signed authorisation by the candidate to make the information available to the company.

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