DUBAI: Thousands of Sunfeast Infotech scam victims in Dubai may never get back the millions they sank into an elaborate Ponzi scheme. The reason: There is no money left and no one to turn to.
The dubious firm’s two Indian owners Raja and Veer Kumar have been behind bars since April 29 and the investors’ sole point of contact, marketing manager, Radhai Gopalakrishna, has suddenly gone incommunicado.
For days now, the investors had banked on Radhai, who had repeatedly assured them that they would be paid back in full.
But her unexplained silence has left investors in a quandary.
Left with no choice, hundreds of victims thronged Al Rifa’a police station on Tuesday and Wednesday in the fervent hope of recovering their money. But it seems they have missed the bus.
Last week scores of complainants were refunded their principal amount, but those who turned up at the police station this time got nothing.
Until last Wednesday, a dedicated Sunfeast staff was assigned to the police station to hand over cash to the complainants against invoices and passbooks.
That’s not the case anymore.
Understandably, many victims are blaming Radhai and the founder of an investor’s Google group forum, Babar Yaqub, for dissuading them from approaching the police.
“We were misled into believing that we will get our principal plus profit if we wait. It was a foolish move as we lost everything. I wish I had lodged a report earlier,” said Filipino Joe, who had put in Dh100,000 borrowed from a loan shark.
An Indian woman who lost Dh55,000 blamed Babar and Radhai for giving them false hopes.
“They are directly responsible for my hopeless situation,” she said, holding back tears.
But Babar said it’s unfair to target him. “Sunfeast had been supporting investors for one year so I stood by them. I tried to help them tide over the crisis so that they could pay us back, but now we have no choice but to execute our Plan B, We will proceed legally,” he told XPRESS.
Evidently, the back up plan has come a wee bit late in the day. “What’s the point of lodging a report now when whatever money they had, has been disbursed? Plan B should have been Plan A,” said an angry Nigerian man, one of hundreds of members on the Google group forum.
Many disgruntled victims expressed similar views.
Calls made to Radhai by XPRESS went unanswered. However, she sent an SMS saying investors cannot be paid back unless one of the company owners is released. “Any cash flow is possible only with their signatures and presence,” she said.
A lawyer familiar with such cases said he doubts there is any cash left for late-comers. “Sunfeast had no business model. They were just rotating cash by taking money from new investors to pay old ones. There’s no way they can refund everyone.”
The Sunfeast scam, arguably the biggest in the country, has left behind a trail of 6,000 devastated families. Many used their life’s savings and borrowed heavily from banks and loan sharks to buy pointless “outsourced home-based typing jobs” peddled by the company before it was shut down by Dubai Economic Department (DED) last month.