Hawks hold SA preacher for alleged links to international get-rich-quick investment scam
Umlazi-born fugitive Dennis Jali – hunted down by authorities in SA and in the US for allegedly defrauding investors in a get-rich-quick scheme – finds himself squarely in the crosshairs of the law.
The 34-year-old, who had been sought by the Hawks since March 2018 for his alleged links to an investment scam, was arrested late in August.
After an appearance in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court last week, the preacher and alleged conman was released on R30,000 bail.
His first brush with authorities can be traced back to his involvement in an investment business venture dubbed SA Uberpartners, later renamed SA Smart Partners. The scheme was built on the premise that investors would pay large tranches of cash to Jali and his cohorts, who promised large weekly dividends in return.
The Sowetan reported that Vicky Netshimbupfe, of Germiston, and her daughter invested R160,000. Since 2017 they had been demanding refunds. Netshimbupfe’s contract that she signed with the firm stated she would earn R20,325 a week.
It is bizarre that a local fraudster was able to take his scheme to the United States of America and allegedly swindle Americans out of their money.
It is understood that when irked investors were not paid promised returns, they came calling for their money back. Jali moved shop to the US, where he established a company called Access 2 Assets. The company, styled as a forex trading firm, had investors hand over their dollars with the promise of enormous returns.
One Maryland woman, who spoke to Times Select on condition of anonymity, said she’d been wooed by the “charming” churchman, who promised that his scheme would enrich struggling black Americans.
“To invest we had to pay $5,000 [R73,506] and he gave us 10% of our investment each month. After a few months, I gave him $100,000 [R1.47m] and I was to receive 33%,” she said.
The woman claims she never received any dividend payment for her lump-sum investment.
“His promise was to help poor black people get ahead, primarily God-fearing Christians, and he used his Christianity against us,” she claimed.
She said Jali would entice investors by staging plush banquets with expensive food, but the scheme unravelled when dividend cheques started bouncing.
Times Select has obtained correspondence Jali sent to his US clientele, in which he insisted that a banking glitch was behind the non-payment.
“We want to thank everyone that has been patiently supportive of the company. We do, however, want to express that international laws and regulations slow things down when it comes to money being moved from country to country,” he wrote.
The woman, along with two independent sources with knowledge of the investigation, confirmed that Jali was also under investigation by the FBI. The FBI could not be reached for comment by the time of publishing.
Private investigator Chad Thomas, of IRS Investigations, said he had been commissioned to trace Jali by some of his SA investors.
“Considering that Jali was wanted in SA and his particulars had been circulated in both the mainstream media as well as on social media, it is surprising that he was able to travel overseas and convince people in another country to also invest their hard-earned money in a scheme,” said Thomas.
Hawks spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mulamu confirmed that Jali was collared by detectives, wielding a court warrant on charges of fraud and theft, late last month. She said the National Prosecuting Authority was in the process of collating a raft of charges against him.
Efforts to contact Jali were unsuccessful before the time of publishing.