Police Commissioner issues pyramid scheme warning

The Police and Prisons Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, has warned members of the public against participating in or joining pyramid or re-gifting schemes.

Fuiavaili'ili has confirmed that the Police are currently investigating the schemes though arrests are yet to be made.

“We have got cases of pyramid schemes and we’re working together with the Financial Intelligence Unit under the Central Bank,” said Fuiavaili'ili.

The Commissioner also explained that they are working together with the Treasury and the Central Bank Governor’s office.

“It is something we are looking at, one of the things that I have been told by the investigators is that one of the problems is that some of the witnesses have not come forward or victims to tell their side of the story.

“We can’t move unless we have the victims coming forward and explain so we can put a case together if there is criminality.

“There’s the Attorney-General’s office that is involved as well we can refer to because these are complicated and sometimes there’s a lot of grey areas.”

While there are a lot of cases on pyramid schemes, he said that if you compare [Police] statistics, “these schemes are not one of the highest crimes being committed in Samoa.”

The Police Commissioner also clarified that while they can make arrests these must be preceded by thorough investigations. 

The Central Bank earlier issued a statement saying that they have received reports of pyramid or re-gifting schemes and have warned against them.

A warning by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) also followed.

The Ministry and the banking regulator have received reports of the existence of several pyramid schemes operating in Samoa.

In the M.C.I.L. statement, the Ministry clarified that some of the schemes include gift-giving of money and include the recruitment of participants to gain financial rewards.

“Pyramid selling and similar schemes are illegal ‘get rich quick’ scams that can end up costing your friends and family their hard-earned tala,” the statement said.

The Ministry’s statement further clarified that pyramid selling and similar schemes promise financial returns to participants, should they add more members to the scheme. However, new participants must register with high upfront membership fees. 

Participants were made further promises including that they would earn high and rapid returns from the financial schemes. 

The Ministry said it was important to be careful with these types of offers because often they are too good to be true and will end up costing members of the public money.

“Don’t let family lose big in pyramid scheme scams," the statement read. 

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