Kitty party scam: ‘Con-woman’ vanishes with Rs4m

Complainants say suspect ran three committees with 40 members each

Maha Mussadaq February 23, 2015
The victims also presented bounced checks to the Kohsar police, who are investigating the case. STOCK PHOTO


The government, the State Bank, and law enforcement agencies regularly warn citizens of the risks of investing in unrecognised saving schemes, especially those without a paper trail, but people continue to do so.

In Islamabad, a few kitty party investors have learnt the harsh truth of how real those risks are.

The Islamabad Police are investigating complaints against a kitty party organiser who is being accused of defrauding dozens of women of Rs4 million in a ‘committee’ fraud.

Mehnaz Abbasi, the suspect, started three 18-month committees — a type of trust-based social meeting-cum-savings scheme — last year and signed up almost over a hundred women in the city. The complainants say Abbasi, who claimed to be from Rawalpindi, recently entered the city’s social scene flaunting designer bags, shoes and jewels. She claimed to own a house and two guest houses in sectors F-6 and F-8.

Most women paid their monthly contributions, but did not check whom, or if anyone, was paid the monthly pot.

“She would host a party and invite celebrities every month and deduct the amount from our committee contributions,” said Sadia Afsar, who claims to have lost around Rs200,000.

Afsar said that after she raised the issue that she did not get her pot money in January, she came to learn that Abbasi had also failed to pay other members of the committees for months. “I was paying Rs30,000 every month,” Afsar added.

Now suspicious, the women went to Abbasi’s house and found that it was a rented property and not in her name. The victims also presented bounced cheques to the Kohsar police, who are investigating whether the complaints are genuine before registering an FIR. ASI Gul Khan said a number of women have filed similar complaints against Abbasi.

“We are investigating and will take action against the suspect if the complaints are genuine,” he said.

Afsar said that when the police officials went to Abbasi’s house, they were told that she did not live there.

She also admitted that as far as a paper trail, “There are no receipts of the payments…she denies receiving cash from the committee members.”

Mariam Pasha, another victim, said she paid Rs15,000 every month. Halfway through the 18 months cycle, she found out that committee members were not getting paid. “I have lost Rs240,000,” Pasha said.

Other members of the committees also said that they had not received any pot money to date. They added that Abbasi has disappeared from the social scene after the scam surfaced and expressed fear that Mehnaz Abbasi might not even be her actual name.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2015.


Critic | 9 years ago | Reply So all these ladies spent almost a year socializing with each other, paying a significant amount each month without showing the slightest interest in who was getting the sum that month? Not sure if they can blame anyone but themselves for this scam. It's amazing how easy it is for these ladies to blindly trust anyone who flaunts designer goods and throws parties for celebrities..
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