FIU investigates illegal pyramid selling scheme

September 14, 2023 12:41 pm

The Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit, which has started an investigation into the EbayShop Online Recruitment Scheme, has profiled seven known agents of ‘EbayShop Online Recruiting.

Director Razim Buksh says their intelligence case reports will be disseminated to the Fiji Police Force for further action, including possible restraining and forfeiture of any tainted funds.

He says despite repeated warnings, Fijians continue to fall victim to online scams, primarily due to their get-rich-quick mentality.

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The Director of FIU says that while only two cases were recently brought to their attention, reports on social media indicate several thousand vulnerable Fijians have lost their money to the illegal pyramid scheme through local agents.

He says this scam involved an illegal pyramid-selling scheme that promised locals to invest money, get their money back within a short time, and thereafter receive large returns and profits.

Financial Intelligence Unit Director Razim Buksh.

Buksh says in the first case, a female sales representative at a shop in Suva was brought to their attention who claimed to be an agent for the EbayShop Online Recruiting scheme.

Their investigation showed that between July and August 2023, she made nine large cash deposits to her personal bank account totalling $33,600 and received 21 bank transfers totalling $51,500.

The bank transactions were made in reference to the desired “Ebay level and fee”.

The FIU noted that she conducted multiple cash and remittance transactions before making large cash withdrawals totalling $52,260, supposedly for her personal use to construct her house.

In the second case, another female, a self-employed lecturer, received funds from various parties from January to August 2023 through multiple wallets.

These wallets facilitated transactions of more than $300,000 during this period.

Buksh says one of these wallets was used to purchase cryptocurrency from at least three online exchanges through the use of an international debit card.

The director stresses that funds that are collected from the large number of new members and recruits at the bottom of the pyramid are circulated within the organization until it fails and the agents and founders flee with a large amount of funds.

The FIU has implemented anti-money laundering regulatory controls and preventative measures so that suspected scam transactions are detected and reported to the FIU by commercial banks, money remittance service providers, and other financial institutions in Fiji.

He says that anyone promoting or operating a pyramid-selling scheme, such as ‘EbayShop Online Recruiting’, commits an offence under the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010.