Symbols of peaceSeptember 19, 2023
BIG ISSUE scam crime report backNovember 30, 2023
An Urgent Appeal
The Big Issue has been dealt a blow after an email scam where cybercriminals have stolen limited funds. This specific type of fraud is known as a ‘hacker scam’. We are appealing to the public for assistance where possible …
In a distressing turn of events, The Big Issue, operational for 27 years as a social enterprise NGO based in Cape Town, has fallen prey to an invoice scam through email hacking. This malicious act targeted our finance manager’s email account, leading to a loss of almost R600 000. The total sum, paid in multiple individual transactions over time to a supplier, was diverted during these transactions, to an unknown bank account. The ramifications of this incident are severe, because our organisation currently lacks the financial reserves to absorb such a loss.
A LIFELINE FOR THE MARGINALISED
The Big Issue’s mission has been to provide economic opportunities for those who are marginalised in society. The magazine empowers 120 economically disadvantaged adults from impoverished townships in Cape Town, allowing them to earn a sustainable income by selling The Big Issue. These vendors buy the magazine for R15 and, in turn, make 100% profit by selling it for R30. This initiative not only supports the vendors themselves, but also uplifts their families, with each vendor having approximately six dependants. This means that on a monthly basis, The Big Issue touches the lives of approximately 840 individuals, excluding the organisation’s six staff members, 12 service providers, and their families.
With the diverted funds, the very core of The Big Issue’s operations has been compromised. Should the organisation fail to recover the fraudulent funds or receive substantial support through donations or grant funding, the consequences will be serious. Beyond the immediate impact on the vendors, little issue, The Big Issue’s sister title, is also grappling with the repercussions. Part of the stolen funds were earmarked for printing of little issue, which is a grant-funded magazine designed to aid five-to-nine-year-old children in preparing for Grade 4. The impact of this incident transcends financial loss, because it directly affects the educational resources and opportunities available to young learners.
In addition to the direct financial hit, the print runs of both magazines are now in jeopardy. The more we reduce the print runs of these publications, the less income the vendors and The Big Issue NGO generates. This ripple effect will exacerbate the financial strain on our magazine.
SEEKING JUSTICE AND SUPPORT
The case is being investigated, with hopes of tracing and recovering the diverted funds. However, time is of the essence. The Big Issue urgently appeals to the public, corporate entities and philanthropic organisations to stand in solidarity and, if possible, support the organisation during this critical juncture.
The future of our vital organisation hangs in the balance, as a direct result of the loss of these funds. Urgent action is needed to ensure that we can continue our invaluable work in providing economic opportunities and support to those who need it most. We implore all those who can contribute, to come forward and help us weather this storm. Together, we can ensure that The Big Issue’s legacy of positive impact endures for years to come.
Please contact The Big Issue MD Derek Carelse, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can assist in any way.
Or you can make a direct contribution to our bank account:
Account name: The Big Issue
Bank: Standard Bank
Account number: 072027282
Branch: Blue Route, Tokai, Cape Town
Branch code: 025609
Account type: Current
Reference: Urgent Appeal