- As at Monday Maun police received 73 cases
- Amount likely to be more
- The highest deposit made was P100 000
- One victim has dragged bank to court
As at Monday this week police in Maun had registered a total of 73 cases of people who have reportedly lost over P1.1 million pula to the controversial Ecoplexus ponzi scheme, a scam that left Batswana across the country defrauded millions.
Ecoplexus’ alleged scammers required victims to make financial investments into the US based company that specialises in financing of renewable energy projects among other things promising them high returns.
The scam had different levels in which people were guaranteed daily income or even more returns when they recruit new members or make referrals. As victims moved up through the levels they were guaranteed high daily income with some stages requiring initial investment of P230 while others required P26, 000.
Before the ponzi scheme collapsed recently and funds got frozen at the First National Bank of Botswana (FNBB) which deposits were made through, it turns out that there were some victims who managed to make some withdrawals. This happened when it was still known by a few but things reportedly took a different turn when many started to join.
Maun Police Station Commander, Superintendent Dennis Zilawe has confirmed that between the 11th to the 15th of May, 2023 they had already registered a total of 73 cases of people who reportedly lost money to the scheme amounting to a total of P1 129 596.00. The amount is likely to be more as Zilawe indicated that they continue to receive reports on daily basis.
According to Zilawe the complainants said they were lured into depositing some monies into the FNBB accounts believed to be held by Ecoplexus as an investment and guaranteed high interests. He said the victims were however unable to make withdrawals and when they inquired with the bank they were told the accounts had been frozen. They were instead advised to report the matter to the police.
According Zilawe investments made by the complainants varied, with the least being P3000 while the highest was P100 000. He said the reports were made from across all the spectrum being the employed, non-employed and business people highlighting that in one of the case the report was made by a manager of a certain company.
Zilawe said they have not yet made any arrest explaining that investigations involves alot of process which even entails applying for court orders. Reports however indicate that there is already one victim who has made an application before the Maun High Court against FNBB demanding his money totaling P163 000 to be reversed and the interim order was granted.
Zilawe has since advised members of the public to always be vigilant and refrain from being lured into such scams. “ These schemes always allows for first people who joined to make some withdrawals but once many people joins the whole thing collapse because the scammers would withdraw the whole amount invested and they are the ones who benefit more,” the police boss warned.
Meanwhile Bank of Botswana and the Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) have advised that a company named Ecoplexus Solar Equipment (Pty) Ltd (Ecoplexus) is not licensed or authorised by either the Bank of Botswana or Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) to undertake the business of either banking or provision of financial services in Botswana.
“It is, therefore, illegal for any person to solicit and/or accept deposits from members of the public disguising or masquerading as an investment scheme,” read a joint statement from the two entities.
FNBB has also recently advised the public to exercise caution when approached to deposit money in to any of their accounts under the pretext that they are owned by Ecoplexus.
“Customers are further cautioned against sharing their log in details with anyone and should use their accounts for their intended purposes as per agreement during account opening. Any individual or entity that has a complaint or concern about this matter is advised to immediately report to the Botswana Police Service or any law enforcement agency for assistance,” the bank advised in a recent statement.