UIF TERS Fraud Suspect Arrested At SA-Botswana Border

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The Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) was introduced to help employers pay their workers during the national lockdowns, which caused many businesses to lose income. However, several individuals improperly received these relief funds. 
 


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The Border Management Authority (BMA) arrested a man at the Ramatlabama border post between South Africa and Botswana on Thursday for alleged COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) fraud.Tokelo Winston Frederick Modiboa, who had been on the run since November 2022, is now among 21 individuals implicated in fraudulent COVID-19 TERS claims from 2020 and 2021.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has launched the "Follow the Money" campaign to ensure TERS funds reached the intended beneficiaries and were not misused. 

Phase 1 involved auditing R14 billion in claims, confirming that 91% of the funds reached workers, while R387 million in suspected fraudulent payments were flagged for further investigation. The UIF recovered R918 million during this phase. Phase 2, which began in July 2022, involves a deeper audit with over 360 forensic auditors examining employers' financial records to verify the proper use of TERS funds. 

According to a police statement, the 59-year-old appeared in the Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court on Friday, facing fraud charges. An investigation by the Hawks' Serious Commercial Crime Investigation unit revealed that Modiboa received payments from three primary suspects: Kegomoditswe Parisian Moselane (36), Irving Ikgopoleng Mongale (46), and Khotjwe Goodwin Motsei (50). These individuals submitted fraudulent claims for employees who did not exist.

Police reported that Moselane allegedly claimed R271,000 from the Department of Employment and Labour for 47 individuals who had never worked for her company. The investigation found that Moselane transferred funds to seven other accused, including Modiboa, who received R27,000.

In November 2022, the Hawks' Serious Commercial Crime Investigation Unit, in collaboration with the Tactical Operations Management Section (TOMS), arrested seven suspects. Further investigation revealed that Mongale had claimed R970,000 for 150 non-existent employees, transferring R34,000 to Modiboa and funds to 13 other accused, who have since been arrested and released on bail.

Additionally, Modiboa received R89,500 from Motsei, who fraudulently claimed over R1 million for 133 fictitious employees. The funds were distributed to 11 other suspects, arrested in November 2022 and also out on bail.

This brings the total number of suspects arrested for COVID-19 TERS fraudulent claims to 21. All the accused have been charged with fraud. Modiboa was remanded in custody and will appear in court on June 5, 2024

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The Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme was intended to assist employees who lost income due the national lockdowns. However, some individuals wrongly benefitted from these funds and will now face the consequences. 

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