Secretary for Finance and the Economy Joel Jack says he is surprised by the number of Tobagonians who have reported being scammed in pyramid schemes.
He addressed the issue on Wednesday at the post executive council news conference at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough.
“I don’t want to hear any more horror stories regarding persons who lost their hard-earned financial resources owing to these fraudulent activities,” he said.
Jack did not give a figure for the number of people who told him they were scammed in the scheme but said it offers a risk/reward trade-off.
“Some of these programmes are just schemes. They are not meant to bless you but rob you of your scarce-earned financial resources.”
Jack said people should be more “cautious and proactive” in managing their financial resources in these challenging times.
He warned Tobagonians against becoming involved in the pyramid scheme.
“Yes, you might say we live in a free country and you can’t dictate what persons will do with their scarce financial resources. But, I have a responsibility to warn members of the public in this regard.”
He added: “Some of these get-rich-quick schemes really send the signal of a quick return. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.”
Jack noted advisories published by the TT Securities Exchange Commission, Financial Intelligence Unit and Central Bank have already cautioned people.
“I, therefore, wish to urge Tobagonians to be careful. Any offer that sounds too good to be true probably is. So, please, I implore all of you to exercise caution.”
Jack said sou sou, as has traditionally been the case, remains a reliable avenue through which people can “pool their resources together” and save.
He continued: “But, they have taken this sou sou to another extreme and have now bastardised it. So, I want to encourage persons to be careful.”
Jack said the division’s financial literacy secretariat continues to encourage people to plan and manage their financial resources.
“So, when challenging economic times like these occur, because you have already put the necessary plans and measures in place, you are able to save for the rainy day, you are able to tap into your emergency fund and you are able to manage your financial affairs.”
In a video posted on Facebook, last week, a young woman in Tobago claimed she was assaulted and verbally abused after a pyramid scheme she was in crashed and she attempted to get back her money.
People who have been scammed are being asked to file official complaints with the Fraud Squad.
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