The ‘Sa­trix web­site’ that isn’t

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PERSONAL FINANCE -

Jan Kruger, the sole pro­pri­etor of a fi­nan­cial ser­vices provider that trades as JE Fi­nan­cial Con­sult­ing, thought he was on to a good thing un­til he was spot­ted by Dave Craw­ford, a Jo­han­nes­burg-based fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tor.

Craw­ford wanted to make a di­rect in­vest­ment in one of the Sa­trix ex­change traded funds. He was not sure of the web­site ad­dress, so he googled “Sa­trix”.

And then he al­most fell into Kruger’s lit­tle trap.

When the Google search page comes up, the first site listed is not Sa­trix but Kruger’s, whose clever web de­signer has man­aged to up­stage Sa­trix by us­ing the ti­tle Sa­trix JSE Funds On­line.

If you in­vest in Sa­trix through JE Fi­nan­cial Con­sult­ing’s web­site, you will pay a need­less up­front fee of 1.5 per­cent of your in­vest­ment and a fur­ther an­nual fee of 0.25 per­cent.

The ti­tle of the of­fi­cial Sa­trix web­site is Sa­trix Home, with the ad­dress www.sa­trix.co.za

The de­cep­tion did not stop there. When you open the JE Fi­nan­cial site, the front page is dom­i­nated by the Sa­trix logo with a ref­er­ence to JE Fi­nan­cial Con­sult­ing in far smaller type.

Then the process of fill­ing in the ap­pli­ca­tion form starts.

You need to go through eight steps, pro­vid­ing ex­ten­sive per­sonal de­tails, be­fore you reach any in­for­ma­tion about the ad­di­tional costs that starts with the note: “Th­ese de­tails are read-only and need only be con­firmed by you.” So, even though you are en­ti­tled to ne­go­ti­ate com­mis­sions, you are un­able to change them on the web­site.

A note also states that the fi­nan­cial ser­vices provider or rep­re­sen­ta­tive “cer­ti­fies that he/ she has per­son­ally ex­plained all the fea­tures of the prod­uct to the in­vestor” … and has “per­son­ally ex­plained all the fees and com­mis­sions in­clud­ing all risk ...”.

Kruger, af­ter the in­ter­ven­tion of Sa­trix and the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Board, says he will re­im­burse any­one who has been mis­led. He is also en­sur­ing that his web­site is legally com­pli­ant.

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