Saturday, May 19, 2007

Couple reported for swindling Rp 10b from 4,000 clients

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Three men from Surabaya on Tuesday reported to the Jakarta Police a Jakarta couple who allegedly defrauded 4,000 investors of a total of Rp 10 billion.

The man and woman came to Surabaya last November, making a presentation in a hotel to persuade people to invest in their company, PT Energi Kasih Abadi, in Jakarta. In return, the clients would receive 25 percent of the monthly interest, which would be transferred to their bank accounts every week, said Saiful Mekhminin, one of the men who reported the case to police.

Saiful said he invested Rp 17 million in cash, while two acquaintances, Prendy and Minggus Umbo, invested Rp 12 million and Rp 50 million respectively.

"In the beginning, there was no problem with the payments. I had already received about Rp 8 million when they stopped transferring the money at the end of December," Saiful said.

The company maintained communications with its clients through its website, which provided a wealth of information, including client data like the investment amount, investment period and interest accrued, which was paid through Internet banking.

The company had attracted at least 4,000 people from Surabaya, Jakarta and Bekasi. They invested a minimum of Rp 500,000 each.

The number of clients escalated from time to time because a client would receive a bonus for bringing in new investors.

Minggus said he had persuaded more than 200 people to invest their money.

Upon the request of other clients, Saiful and four other people at the top of the client list, met the couple in Sarinah Plaza in Central Jakarta, on Jan. 3, a week after the company failed to pay the interest.

The couple argued they could not make the payment because the company's internet access had been disrupted due to an earthquake in Taiwan.

A week later, as the clients had not received the money, Saiful invited the couple to meet them in Semarang, but they did not show up.

Saiful said they had tried to contact the couple many times but they only managed to reach the woman once, on Jan. 9. She claimed both she and her husband had lost their cell phones and promised to make the payment.

On Monday, Saiful and his colleagues visited the company's office located in the Surya Building on Jl. Thamrin, Central Jakarta. The building management, however, said the company moved out on Jan. 15. Later, Saiful and his colleagues tried to locate the couple's residence in Cempaka Putih, Central Jakarta, as listed on the copies of their ID cards. It turned out that they did not live there. (02)

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