For the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the threats to their lives and property are ever present. To add to their problems, the new emerging menace of con artists is now targeting their hard-earned savings.
Over the past few months, several instances have occurred wherein a group of businessmen lure people into ‘investing’ in their companies to make a profit and then swindle them.
At face value, these companies are legitimate entities complete with employees, offices and functioning websites. However, once the trusting public has put in its money in the company’s coffers, the owners and employees disappear off the face of the earth, taking with them the life savings of many hundreds of people.
Shady investment opportunity
The National Accountability Bureau Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has received several such complaints from the affected people, following which the bureau began an investigation.
In the past three months, NAB has filed two separate references in the accountability court regarding such scams.
The first reference of Rs142 million was filed on May 23 against Babar Zeb, Tariq Mehmood, Masood Anwer and Bilal Ahmad for establishing and running different businesses under the name of Mega Shine, Mega Links, T4trading 1&2 and World Wide Marketing in Haripur, with offices in Islamabad and other cities.
The NAB reference states that in order to attract the public, the accused publicised their companies through brochures, banners and websites, and hired several employees.
Furthermore, to build confidence among the public, the accused gave exorbitant rates of profit to the affectees for some time and thus a large number of people invested in their companies.
However, soon the accused stopped paying the profits to their customers and began using delay tactics. Ultimately, they closed their company offices and went into hiding along with the embezzled money.
“The evidence collected during the investigation established that the accused persons dishonestly and fraudulently lured the public at large and pocketed an amount of nearly Rs142 million,” stated the reference filed by NAB.
Masood Anwer and Bilal Ahmad are currently on bail, while Babar Zeb and Tariq Mehmood are still at large.
Similarly, the second reference was filed on July 1 against Jamshed Khan, Abdu Sattar, Muhammad Daud Shah, Ahmad Iqbal and Abdu Samad for cheating the public out of Rs2.71 billion.
According to the reference, the five accused established Life Medicine Company and collected money on the pretext of investing in a modaraba company.
The culprits reportedly collected money from people across K-P claiming that their amounts would be increased significantly in profits, and then subsequently escaped with the money.
Ahmad Iqbal and Abdu Samad were arrested with the help of Hangu police, however, they have been released on bail by a local court. The three others remain at large.
According to a NAB official, the public easily trusted the accused because they maintained a respectable social and pious reputation.
“Once the company paid some profits, the people began to trust the business even more and thus more clients were brought in. However, as soon as the accused had accumulated enough money, they absconded,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2014.