South Africa: Free website to stop Cipro fraud

Digital Content

Online search company WinDeed has come up with what it thinks is a solution, at least in part, to the fraud problems plaguing the Companies & Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro). In the past year, fraudsters have hijacked a number of high-profile companies, including Kalahari Resources, leaving SA business owners concerned about the security of their assets.

Now WinDeed has launched a website, CompanyAlert, that notifies registered users via e-mail of any changes in the Cipro database. WinDeed has access to several public databases that it downloads on a daily basis, the most popular of these being those belonging to the SA Deeds Office and Cipro. CEO Colin Day says users can register at CompanyAlert, allowing them to be alerted as soon as any changes are made.

Day says the idea came to him one morning while listening to a security specialist discussing the matter on radio. “He suggested the best way to protect companies from becoming victims of these kinds of attacks was to check the information on Cipro regularly.”

However, that wasn’t a practical solution. “Since we already had access to the database, I thought we could use it to help SA companies keep track of any changes in a much easier way,” says Day.

“In the event of identity theft taking place, companies can act immediately to limit any material damage by contacting Cipro, their bank and the police,” says Day.

Day says although CompanyAlert can’t actually prevent the fraud from taking place on Cipro registrations, early detection can save a company many hassles in the long run.

“Fraudsters have used illegitimately updated details to set up new bank accounts and then illegally claim tax rebates from the SA Revenue Service or invoice the company’s creditors with phony bank account details,” he says.