$700k and counting | 308 Ebay Shop complaints in 48 hours

Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica says a task force has been set up to look into the Ebay Shop scam Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

A little more than $700,000 in losses have been reported to the Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF) and the Fijian Commerce & Competition Commission (FCCC) in just 48 hours by victims of the now collapsed Ebay Shop Fiji pyramid scheme, the Fijian Government has revealed.

“Since the closure of the Ebay Shop, many people have filed their grievances to FCCC and CCOF and thus far, CCOF has received a total of 182 complaints valued at $357,000; FCCC has received a total of 126 complaints valued at approximately $352,000,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade Manoa Kamikamica, at a press conference yesterday.

“On average, each complainant had lost between $2000 to $2800. These numbers have been tabled for the first time and we expect it to grow. Right now we’re just in collection mode (gathering information) and as you can see, this is just within less than 48 hours, we’re up at almost $800,000, so it’s very sad. What it shows is that it’s a significant amount of money that’s being moved around,” he added.

Before the collapse of the scheme last Friday, it is believed more than $1m was amassed by the perpetrators and siphoned offshore using unsuspecting local agents who were carrying out transactions through cryptocurrency accounts controlled from overseas.

The collapse flushed out thousands of bewildered participants all over Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, who were left with significant losses, sparking widespread confusion in various social media groups and forcing the trade ministry to set up a multi-interagency taskforce early this week to look into the scam.

“To give you an example of the extent of the scam, there are about 104 agents all over Fiji that were involved in this scam. (Viti Levu and Vanua Levu). So it’s quite extensive.

“We have a list of the agents, that’s why I’m warning the agents as well, we know who you are. So we’ll keep tracking it and do the best we can to try and recover the money together. So 104 agents that we know so far,” Mr Kamikamica said.

He urged Fijians to take seriously the warnings put out by authorities on these scams.

“It seems that we are not being serious when these scams happen,” said Mr Kamikamica.

“Even when warnings come out, people just ignore them. I have a very simple rule of thumb. If it looks too good to be true, it normally is too good to be true. Very simple.

“Certainly in this case, people have been promised big amounts of money. I’ve heard of situations where people have borrowed from banks to actually contribute in this scheme, so that’s why I’m saying that from what I’m hearing, it’s very, very unfortunate and very disappointing as some people have lost a lot of money through trading in this scheme.

“So I think this is unfortunately a big lesson for all of us. When the Consumer Council, the FCCC and the Reserve Bank say something, I urge the public of Fiji to listen. Do not take it lightly.”

He said through the new taskforce, the government will ensure laws are changed to give more “teeth” to consumer regulators to enable them to act early in future.

The taskforce is chaired by the Ministry of Trade permanent secretary and comprise of FCCC, CCoF, the Reserve Bank of Fiji and the Fiji Police Force.

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