ONCE again, greed for fast money has brought misery to an unknown number of Goans in the scam masterminded by Sydney Lemos who was recently jailed for proven economic offences in Dubai. Goans in Dubai and in Goa, lured by Lemos to increase their income incredibly within the shortest possible time, became victims of his trap. It is a pity Goans refuse to learn a lesson. There have been cases of many Goans putting in large sums of money in ponzi schemes. They part with their money for receiving millions of dollars from unknown people merely based on e-mails received from the scamsters. The only difference is that in the past Goans were cheated of their earnings by non-Goan operators, while this time it was a pair of native scamsters Sydney Lemos and Ryan de Souza who ran a company called Exential to operate the fraudulent scheme. The duo, along with Lemos’s wife Valany, promised 120 per cent returns to the investors on a minimum investment of $20,000. As have been the cases in the past, the repayment was prompt in the initial stages but the operators failed to keep the promises as the scheme progressed and more people were added to it. Though a list of victims of the Exential scam has not been compiled yet, informed sources say hundreds of Goans have lost their large savings in it.
The Goan duo has been held guilty of duping thousands of investors in a scam which is estimated to be over $200 million and sentenced to 517 years in jail. While the duo would be languishing in the Dubai jail for the rest of their life, their victims would have to bear with the huge losses, which made many of them pauper and left others debt ridden. What is surprising is that some of the Goans who invested in Exential scheme sold their properties or even took loans from families, friend and even banks hoping to become rich in the shortest possible time and change their lives, only to bring misery to themselves. There are others who invested their parents’ hard-earned money, only to lose it. While some of the investors lost amounts up to Rs 15 lakh, others ended up losing in excess of Rs 72 lakh. Some of the victims of the scheme have returned to the state and are trying to make a fresh start, which is going to be painful with hardly any hope of recovering their lost money.
Lemos, a minor football player and an ambitious social climber, was the brain behind the Exential scheme. The other such schemes in which Goans were cheated were mainly run by non-Goans including a conman named Bhoop Singh alias Bhanu, way back in 2013. Goans were also victims of another Ponzi scheme operated by the management of a company called the Citrus Check Inns, which cheated hundreds of Goan women in the year 2017. There are other scamsters to whose fraudulence hundreds of Goans have fell prey. Given the fact that hundreds of people have been losing money at regular intervals, it appears that the greed of making fast money is compelling Goans to invest in fraudulent schemes only to be cheated. The targets of the scamsters in the Exential scam were high salaried people, including those working for reputed airlines operating from United Arab Emirates among others. Following Citrus Check Inns scam and other similar scams a statewide drive was launched to create awareness among women and others but it appears that the greed for fast money was hard to resist, which could be seen from the fact that people continue to ‘trust’ strangers, only to become their victims.
It is time Goans stopped investing in schemes that offer higher returns in the shortest possible time. They should know that it is beyond the capacity of anyone who is doing ethical business to give the 100 or 200 per cent returns on any investment in a few years. The first thing a Goan should do when someone tries to lure them to invest with promises of astronomical returns by the evening for investment made in the morning is to inform the economic offences wing of the police. So far, Goans have gone to police only after they have lost their money and the cheats have run away without leaving any trace. Goans should know that there are several ways in which money can be multiplied. Fixed deposits with the banks are the safest investments, of course, but there are other routes too, such as bonds, debentures, mutual funds and stocks, where more return can be expected.