Bandar Seri Begawan - For the past few years, there have been numerous cases of people in the country being entrapped and lured into 'get rich quick' schemes that come with the promise of huge payments that are too good to be true.
This has shown that Brunei is no exception from neighbouring countries that have also been affected by such schemes which involve not only the public but also government offices.
Although numerous roadshows and much information have been disseminated, there are still segments of people who do not understand or have not been made aware of the misleading schemes.
Without proper investigations into the legitimacy of the schemes, they join in, and in the end, the victims are adversely affected, consequently ending up seeking assistance from the government.
The lack of awareness on the dangers of `get rich quick' schemes was highlighted by Awg Hj Jamain bin Momin, the Brunei-Muara District Officer, in a briefing yesterday for penghulus and village heads in the district.
Also present at the briefing were members of the Legislative Council in the Brunei-Muara District.
The Manager of the Regulatory Department under Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) in her presentation highlighted the elements to look out for in 'get rich quick' schemes.
According to her, the schemes promise high returns in a short period of time, claim to give attractive incentives, are easy and do not need expertise, much effort or a long time to receive returns.
They may also contain some religious sentiments, while the documents appear suspicious and are not properly organised.
The companies that offer the schemes, she said, do not have a licence with AMBD. They may have registration to operate their businesses, but this does not give them the right to offer financial products or carry out financial activities.
She also highlighted that offenders in the country can be prosecuted, citing that under Chapter 93 (1) of the Banking Order 2006, the taking, receiving and getting of financial savings, except with the licence under Chapter 4(1) and 23, if found guilty, offenders face a fine of not more than $10 million or imprisonment of not more than 10 years or both and for the consequent offence, will face a fine of $100,000 for each day of the offence.
Providing advice on investments or carrying out businesses related with securities like Forex trading without a licence from AMBD is also an offence under the Securities Order 2001. If found guilty, they will face a fine of not more than $500,000 or imprisonment of not more than five years or both.
The numerous 'get rich quick' schemes that were outlined in the talk include the Ponzi scheme, recruitment scheme, Forex trading, land banking investment, gold investment and financial scam.
The target victims, she highlighted, are everyone. However, the main targets are pensioners, government officers, members of the public who want big and fast returns, people who are easily influenced and people who are desperately in need of money.
The risks of getting involved in the scheme, she explained, include the loss of all savings, emotional distress, negative effects on the family harmony as well as money laundering and the financing of terrorists.
In advising the public to protect against 'get rich quick' schemes, she said, "If it's too good to be true, then it may be a scam. To check the legitimacy of the schemes, members of the public can ask for the licence provided by AMBD and do not be pressured to invest. Online investments must be done carefully and also avoid unwritten investments. And if an investment has been made, keep all the documents in a safe place."
AMBD will continuously provide awareness and education on 'get rich quick' schemes and will issue a show cause letter to companies that are suspected of running such schemes.
She explained, "The letter will temporarily stop the company's operations until the company can provide evidence that their business does not break any regulations under AMBD. If we find any 'get rich quick' schemes, AMBD will report the case to the police for further investigation."