Elikplim Selassie De-Ben, Kwame Ayesu -Kuma and Francis Attah
Mr. Elikplim Selassie De-Ben, the alleged mastermind of a 419 (scam) group that defrauded several Ghanaians through a so-called Mass Social Welfare Scheme (MSWS), has been arrested by the Odorkor Police in Accra.
Selassi, currently in police custody, was arrested last Tuesday at Akropong in the Eastern Region after a man-hunt, according to reports available to DAILY GUIDE.
He claimed the Mass Social Welfare Scheme (MSWS) project was aimed at alleviating poverty and reducing unemployment in the country, but it turned out to be a ?pyram scheme? rather aimed at defrauding unsuspecting Ghanaians.
This was the second time Selassie had been arrested by the police after his involvement in a similar pyram scam in 2005. At the time, he was part of a company called Individual Development Organization which duped Ghanaians of their lives? savings after promising subscribers 50 percent interest on monies they deposited within 30 days.
Six other suspects who were earlier arrested by the police and identified as being part of the huge scam were Francis Atta-Agyapong Junior, director of operations of the company; Mawuli Agbota, an accounts officer; Samuel Nyamekye, an administrative assistant; Robert Atsrim, assistant director of operations; Patrick Quansah, a network engineer, and Solomon Lamptey, an operations officer.
Some of his employees who also lodged complaints with the Odorkor Police against their former employer for non-payment of their salaries after three months of working in the company, expressed their readiness to assist the police to investigate the matter.
Narrating how they got involved in the MSWS, the employees who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said they saw the adverts in the media asking young and qualified Ghanaians to apply for work in the company last year.
More than 2,500 persons were shortlisted and later asked to pay GH?225 for a so-called ?medical examination? conducted by Agbeve Herbal Hospital, they disclosed.
Text messages were later sent to them to converge on the Accra International Conference Centre for training on July 29, 2013.
The grand ceremony was attended by over 4,000 unemployed graduates drawn from the 10 regions of Ghana.
The objective of the directors of the company, the defrauded unemployed youth were told, was to enroll over 10 million vulnerable poor persons living in Ghana, in an unprecedented record time of one-year.
In attendance at the ceremony was former Minister of Finance, Kwabena Dufuor, whose company, UniBank, was announced by the alleged fraudsters as a partner of the scheme.
The former Finance Minister was said to have donated a cheque for GH?200,000 as his company?s support to what was then believed to be a laudable scheme.
The names of other companies such as INSCOR, CubicBlu and rlg were also announced as partners of the company, thereby giving a semblance of credibility to the operations of the company, the aggrieved employees said.
According to them, after they were finally given the cards to operate, they were asked to inform subscribers that they could purchase iron rods, home appliances, cement, and other building materials on hire purchase without any interest.
?Some of our colleagues who collected monies from the subscribers for various items but never returned them were later arrested by the police,? they claimed.
One of the employees who was arrested by the police said, in his case, his parents had to pay GH1,000 which he collected from a client for the purchase of iron rods and cement from the company.
?When we later visited our headquarters at Sowutuom Millennium Avenue for our salaries, we were told that the owner of the building had locked up the place for non-payment of rent?.
The unsuspecting employees, not knowing they were involved in a scam, said they were put in groups and operated within their areas.
?Now we can no longer move out without being chased by some of the victims we registered. We have also become fugitives in our own areas,? one of them said.
The employees revealed that members who subscribed to the scheme for financial assistance were promised interest-free loans to be paid for a period of one year.
?Our employers told us that an amount of GH?500 million had been earmarked to support the service by our international partners.?
Members were promised 50 percent discount on all consumables on offer through mutual beneficial relationships with strategic partners in industry and other global interests and an amount of GH?1billion was offered in conjunction with scheme partners.
Education and scholarships
Members who enrolled for education were promised awards and need-based scholarships in the form of financial assistance to deserving scheme members to support them from a fund put together by international partners.
On shelter and affordable housing, members were promised a decent, secure and more fitting accommodation that would restore their self-esteem when they joined the Mass Social Welfare Scheme (MSWS).
By Linda Tenyah