Lebaran-themed investment scam busted
Paper Edition | Page: 4
Only days after the police said they were investigating an online-based investment scam, religiously dubbed “Al Amanah” (Arabic for “trustworthy”) by its followers, another Ponzi scheme was busted on Friday for conning some 1,300 clients out of Rp 600 million (US$63,600).
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Saturday that one of the programs offered in the scam were “Idul Fitri savings”, in which clients were led to believe they could withdraw their money, along with huge profits, two weeks before the Idul Fitri holidays.
A husband-and-wife team identified only as BR and DM, allegedly the brains behind the crime, have been arrested and named suspects in the case. “The couple allegedly offered their clients profits of between 30 percent and 50 percent,” Rikwanto told reporters. “However, when the clients began to ask for their money back, the couple could not give it to them as all the money had already been used for their personal purposes,” he said.
The couple ran the scam under PT Koperasi Putera Pandawa, which was established earlier this year and had a headquarters in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta, along with several branch offices scattered in and around the city. BR reportedly served as company head while his wife, DM, served as his deputy.
Rikwanto has confirmed that the company was not registered at the Law and Human Rights Ministry.
Reports about the scam began to surface late last week, when dozens of investors reportedly mobbed the Kramat Jati office demanding their money back as the Idul Fitri holidays approached. Idul Fitri, also known locally as Lebaran, is expected to fall on Aug. 19 and 20.
When the investors found out that BR and DM could not meet their demands, they held the couple hostage inside the building.
Police officers dispersed the mob and arrested the couple later that night. The couple were then detained at the city police’s Special Investigations Directorate. Inquiries have found that the victims are mostly low- and middle-income citizens, with savings reportedly ranging from Rp 75,000 to Rp 7 million.
Both BR and DM have been charged with fraud and embezzlement under the Criminal Code and face up to five years imprisonment if found guilty.
Police have confiscated computers, account passbooks, and bookkeeping documents as evidence. Five victims and five of the company’s employees have been questioned over the weekend.
The case was the latest in a long line of investment scams that have made the news since the beginning of the year. In early June, Koperasi Langit Biru came under public scrutiny after its head, local cleric Jaya Komara, reportedly embezzled billions of rupiah from some 140,000 clients across the country.
Days later, another investment scam under PT Gradasi Anak Negeri entered the spotlight for allegedly conning some 21,000 clients out of Rp 390 billion in the “canned sardines business”. Both organizations were based in Tangerang, west of Jakarta.
Less than a week later, police announced an investigation into investment firm PT Gemilang Reksa Jaya (GRJ) in Depok, West Java, for allegedly embezzling billions of rupiah from 10,600 clients throughout Indonesia.