Police officer and a woman appear in Tongatapu court after illegal pyramid schemes

Two women recently appeared in a magistrate court in Nuku’alofa after being charged in relation to what has been described as illegal pyramid schemes.

Vaiola Tupa, 41, a female police officer from Ngele’ia and ‘Anaseini Siulua Pongi, 36, of Te’ekiu have been accused after members of a group, known to locals as ujamaa, lost hundreds of pa’anga.

The complainants alleged the accused were recruiters of a group which promised to pay back each person recruited their money together with a substantial amount of interest.

They claimed each of them were told to deposit $500 and after a short period of time normally 8 to 21 days they would receive $4,000 but this did not happen.

The Magistrate was expected to determine whether the case should go to the Supreme Court.

The case came after the National Reserve Bank of Tonga has warned people last year to stay away from a pyramid scheme that has cost its victims thousands of pa’anga.

Kaniva News understands that an initial group of eight people became involved in the scheme which lured them into paying hundreds of dollars with promises they would make hundreds of thousands in return.

“Such schemes promise quick wealth but only deliver misery with invested money lost in the get rich quick schemes”.

The alert came as the New Zealand Financial Management Authority warned there had been a rash of scams riding on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world.

It also came after the New Zealand Commerce Commission recently said it was investigating a number of possible pyramid schemes involving registered companies targeting Tongans in churches, community groups and families across Auckland.

Despite warnings by the government authorities Kaniva News understands some operators took to Facebook claiming they were not pyramid schemes, but were genuine businesses that could definitely pay their members in full.

While Tongans who believe they have been ripped off by recent schemes are trying to get a refund, they can lodge a complaint with the New Zealand Commerce Commission or with police in Tonga.

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