THE Registrar-General’s Office has warned the public to be wary of a fake website used by fraudsters to swindle online passport applicants of their hard-earned cash.
The account claims to be the official account of the RG’s office yet it is not.
In a statement, the RG’s office warned the public against using any third parties as they might end up losing their cash.
“The Civil Registry Department has learnt of a fake website, www.zimpassport.online (Central Registry-Apply for Zimbabwean Passport) purporting to provide online passport application services to members of the public. The account is misrepresented as the official account and used to swindle applicants of their hard-earned money.
“The Civil Registry Department dissociates itself from the website and cautions public members against seeking services through the website. The department will not be held accountable for any loss or prejudice that may be suffered by engaging the fake website,” reads the statement.
Currently, the Civil Registry Department is only offering an online booking facility availed for the convenience of citizens and not an online payment service through PayPal.
“Members of the public are hereby, advised to approach our designated offices or embassies in the case of our citizens based in the diaspora. We urge our citizens to rely on verified information which the department disseminates through its official website www.rg.gov.zw and social media platforms”.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans living outside the country and needing to apply online for the recently introduced e-passport were recently urged to be wary of fraudsters masquerading as employees or agents of the Registrar General’s Office.
The fraudsters, who were said to be most active in South Africa where there is a large Zimbabwean community, are using social media platforms with fake websites, Facebook pages, and WhatsApp numbers with official-sounding names to fleece passport seekers of their hard-earned cash.
Zimbabweans can now apply and pay for the newly-introduced e-passport online and this has seen the emergence of fraudsters who are claiming that they can facilitate the issuance of passports and other national documents.
But the Government has recruited no agents to either issue or obtain any national documents on its behalf.
These documents include passports, IDs, birth certificates, and driver’s licenses among others.
The fraudsters, some of whom have been identified in South Africa through the platforms that they have been advertising from, have duped several people of thousands of United States dollars and South African rands through such practices.
Most charge from US$200 and above.
Some of the platforms being used are: Makombe Passport Official Facebook page, Zimbabwe Passport and ZSP Permit Renewal Facebook page, Express E-Passports for Zimbabweans Abroad Facebook page, 24Hr Zimbabwe E-Passports Facebook Page, WhatsApp number +263781279790, Zim Passport in SA Facebook page and Zim Passport Online Facebook page. Others are https//zimpassports.online/index.html: firstname.lastname@example.org, landline +263 242 792751, Capitec Bank, Account number 1653729757.
None of these are the official Zimbabwe Government websites that are used for legitimate passport requests.
In an advisory note in March, the Zimbabwe Embassy and its consulates in Cape Town and Johannesburg said it had come to their attention that these platforms were advertising on social media. After checking with the Registrar General’s Office in Harare, the platforms have been identified as scams.
The Consulate said these scammers and criminal elements continue to heartlessly fleece unsuspecting applicants of their hard-earned cash.
To avoid being conned, Zimbabwe nationals have been urged to use official communication such as the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage (Twitter handle: @Moha_Zim, contact details on +263 242 702 295-9 and +263 242 708 384) and the Zimbabwe Consulate Cape Town (+27 21 461 1994-5; +27 84 829 0441; +27 84790 9230 or Email; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other official sites, addresses, and numbers are the Zimbabwe Consulate: Johannesburg (Facebook Page: Zimbabweconsulate Boeing Road Bedfordview; Twitter handle: @Zimbabweconsulatejhb; WhatsApp +27 82 82 49435, Phone +27 11 615 5879 or +27 11 037 3400; Email email@example.com or website www.zimbabweconsulate.co.za.