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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Trinidad: Cops seize cash, arrest 10 in alleged pyramid scheme

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Mark Bassant

At least ten people, including personnel from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, have been detained and millions of dollars recovered from what police say is an illegal pyramid scheme based in La Horquetta.

Investigators told Guardian Media that the exercise, co-ordinated by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, ACP for Crime Jayson Forde and Sen Supt Ramkhelawan along with officers from the Special Operations Response Team(SORT) under Sgt Mark Hernandez, went to the La Horquetta apartment shortly after 10 am Tuesday.

Officers acting on information executed a warrant at the apartment located at 516 Kathleen Warner Drive.

During their search, police sources told Guardian Media that they found huge sums of money hidden in the ceiling of the apartment, as well as a nearby water tank and other areas.

“It’s a lot of money and looks like millions. The money was everywhere,” one source disclosed.

Investigators also apprehended at least ten people, some of whom are serving members of the T&T Defence Force. The officers believe the cash may be related to money laundering activities by key persons held during the raid.

Up to a short while ago the area was still cordoned off and several lawyers had also arrived on the scene, sources said.

The father of one of the people detained said he has been on the scene since his daughter was detained but up until 1 pm he had not been told why his daughter was arrested.

Guardian Media understands that the main suspect is alleged to be running the biggest “sou sou” group in the country. To join, members must allegedly pay in $10,000 to receive $56,000 in return.

A new group was started on Saturday morning and Guardian Media understands there are almost 8,000 members.

Only recently, Guardian Media had run a series of stories about the dangers of the pyramid scheme.

Several regulatory authorities, including the Intelligence Unit (FIU), Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) and the Financial System Regulatory Authorities had jointly issued an advisory urging members of the public about jointing “pyramid schemes.”

In recent months, members of the public have been encouraged to join these schemes via the social media platform of Whatsapp or by face to face contact with an individual. These schemes, authorities warned, falsely take the shape of new investments or even “sou sou” arrangements in other cases.

This is a developing story which will be updated as more information becomes available. – With reporting by Sharlene Rampersad
(Trinidad Guardian)

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