NASSAU – Hundreds of Bahamians stormed the offices of “asue” holders company, Pineapple Express this morning to recover their monies from the business that regulators have described as a Ponzi scheme.
Police had to be called to control the angry customers who were part of the asue – a system of saving money, and financing.
The company, which promises a large profit to contributors who make a small investment, was forced to closed its doors earlier this week after it failed to pay promised disbursement to customers.
On Monday, the Security Commission summoned management to a meeting. That same day, the Pineapple Express issued a notice announcing the closure of its office, claiming in a statement that Government officials had “asked them not to open”. It promised to reopen on Tuesday, but it did not and only reopened today to make payouts.
The Securities Commission issued a statement warning Bahamians that the activity of Pineapple Express was “very high risk and unsafe”.
“Therefore, members of the public are advised to exercise extreme caution when considering to engage with this entity or persons soliciting on behalf of this entity. Persons who decide to do so, do it at their own risk,” it said.
According to the Commission, people who sought to join the asue, were required to pay a one-time fee of $200 and receive $1,050 or pay $100 and receive $540. Participants were also required to pay a $25 membership fee. They also had to pay a $25 processing fee each time they rejoined for a payout. After signing up, they were to receive a payout in “around 14 business days”.
The regulator explained that participants made money solely by recruiting new participants into the programme and while the scheme may gather momentum it would eventually crash.
“Fraudsters behind these schemes typically go to great lengths to make their programmes appear to be legitimate, multi-level marketing schemes, but the schemes eventually fall apart when it becomes impossible to recruit new participants, which can happen quickly,” it said. “So, without new investors, money for payouts very soon becomes insufficient. Therefore, under no circumstance are these schemes to be viewed as bona fide investment programmes as they tend by nature to involve fraud.”
Pineapple Express has however assured its investors that they will receive their refunds.
“Members will be contacted in groups based on the dates they joined to schedule times to receive their refunds. We are truly sorry and apologize for the inconvenience,” the company said in a statement.