Scammers are allegedly misusing the name of one of Potchefstroom’s most recognised and reputable businesses, Fourie’s Poultry Farms (also known as Chubby Chick).
A company that operates under “Fourie Uni Poultry”, recently scammed at least two individuals from Johannesburg who had done business under the impression they were contacting the original Fourie’s Poultry Farms, located at 1 Luitingh Street in Potch Industria.
The scammers also used the same address but preferred EFT payments before delivery. It is purported that a man by the name of “Lawrence Leen Disake” was the direct representative for “Fourie Uni Poultry”.
The Potchefstoom Herald has established that no one with that name works at Fourie’s Poultry Farms. Kieran Clifford contacted the Herald. He represents both clients who had fallen victim to fraud. Celeste Beukes, a Johannesburg businesswoman and guesthouse owner, was scammed for approximately R4 000, while another anonymous man lost around R27 000. Both clients had to pay in advance before receiving their orders.
By print time, they had not received their goods or a refund.
According to Beukes, she was looking online for a place to purchase chickens. She then came across the Fourie name as those in the industry said they had a good reputation. She searched the name and came across this fake website, which, she says, looked legitimate at first, with the domain name and pictures of relevant managers.
The dilemma was that these pictures were fake and misused to represent an untrue identity. A man calling himself “Lawrence Leen Disake” communicated with Ms Beukes via Whatsapp. She placed the order on 17 October and paid to the account of Fourie Uni Poultry via EFT. “It was strange that there were constant delays.
“The order should have arrived on Saturday, October 21, but they informed me that one of the drivers was killed in Mpumalanga. “They said a courier company called 4th Revo would handle my order,” stated Beukes. After a few days, 4th Revo demanded an insurance payment of R500 for the order. Beukes refused, informing Disake that she would fetch the order in Potchefstroom. She also enquired about the whereabouts of John Fourie.
Disake allegedly told her he was in Cape Town on business and that “Myself, Martha, Eliza, Martin and Ernest” handled the day-to-day operations. She then received a message that they could not process her order because of an outbreak of avian flu. Disake then promised her a full refund.
“I was dumbfounded and knew that something was seriously wrong. After numerous days without getting my money back, I reported the matter to the police. I hope this ordeal will help to inform others of this scam. They should rather visit the premises before doing business,” Beukes advised.
Beukes confirmed that she had filed a Statement of Affidavit at the Edenvale SAPS station.
The scammers used numerous tactics to reassure clients of their “association” with the original Fourie’s Poultry Farms.
Firstly, to reinforce the impression that the fraudsters are associated with the “original” Fourie’s Poultry Farms, they have placed on their website a photograph of the original John Fourie, who passed away in May 2023.
Secondly, the site uses an image of a “Johan Fourie” with a photo. It has been established that this photo came from another website and is of Mr Johan Zietsman.
Thirdly, on the scam website www. fouriepoultry.co.za, Lawrence Leen Disake is described as a supervisor with a BSc (Agric.) Animal Science degree from the University of Pretoria. The photo of Disake is also a photo from Getty Images. It is a generic image, “African-American Farmer” by John Fedele.
Furthermore, the scam website recently posted a notice advising the public that no visits to the premises would be processed. “Visits are not allowed at the moment. The sales representative assisting you with your order will explain to customers the details of this decision. “We are working very hard to resolve the situation and, once again, start receiving our valued customers into the warmth of our Farm. Thanks, Management,” reads the statement on the website.
The invoices of Fourie Uni Poultry also had a false company registration number, which belonged to a deregistered company, Berla Properties.
The Herald contacted the director of Fourie’s Poultry Farms, Johnathan Fourie, who said he knew about scammers who misused the company’s name. While it had not currently impacted the operation of his business, he said it was unfortunate that people were being defrauded.
“It is something that started slowly. We became aware of the first reports of scamming about four years ago. It has slowly increased to the present time. The scammer constantly uses new domains as well. “We are trying but don’t know how to stop this,” stated Fourie.
* The Potchefstroom Herald emailed Fourie Uni Poultry and tried to contact the man (Lawrence Leen Disake) but did not get a response before going to print.
Read original story on www.citizen.co.za