The fifth episode of Shelea, a radio drama that chronicles women struggles and triumphs in contemporary society, has cautioned society on the dangers of fraudulent money-making scams known as pyramid schemes.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
This come as Zimbabweans have fallen victim to the scams losing fortunes to masterminds of these fraudulent schemes.
The drama is a compelling story of a young female politician, Shelea, who faces hurdles as she tries to balance between being a wife and mother at the same time making a difference in her community.
Written by Sitshengisiwe Olinda Siziba and produced by Patsimeredu Edutainment Trust, the drama is part of a She-Leads Project being spearheaded by Hivos in partnership with the Irish Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
The episode opens with a conversation between main character Shelea Gore speaking to her maid Sisi Kiri who was a victim of fraudulent pyramid scheme that was being run by her potential fiancé who eventually dumped her.
“I have a heartbreak madam, do you remember my potential candidate whom I used to talk about?
“He has dumped me.
“I was introduced to this guy by a friend of mine and we started dating without any problems and I was deeply in love with him madam, I am heartbroken, I am crushed madam,” Kiri said.
“I was involved in a lot of investment deals with him as I thought we had a long-term relationship.
“I had recruited other women who are my friends and I don’t know how I am going to tell them that he disappeared with their money.”
Narrating her ordeal to her boss on how she was enticed to join a pyramid scheme, Kiri said she was advised to take advantage of the COVID-19-induced lockdown to make money in the comfort of her home.
“Madam this man advised me that if I had some money it would be wise to invest in his project (pyramid scheme).
“He assured me that with as little as US$13, the joining fee, I would get US$7 500 as interest or profit,” she said.
“I decided to give him more money so that I could get more profits than just putting in US$13. I have been paying into the pyramid scheme and even the recent salary that you paid me, I took it there.”
For her to make more money, Kiri said, she was encouraged to recruit more people to subscribe to the scheme.
“I had recruited my friends, more than six people, and one of the women who had been impressed by the offer had to remove roofing sheets from her house and sell them to contribute to the scheme and now it is about to rain what will she do after the man varnished with her money,” she said.
“Now he has switched off his phone, his office has been closed and now the women want their money, how will I tell them that he disappeared with their money?
Shelea told her that most pyramid scheme fraudsters targeted poor women who would have struggled to obtain the money.
“Sisi Kiri by now you should know that money does not grow on trees.
“It’s so sad that people keep falling for this trick over and over again.
“It is not realistic that someone makes an investment of US$13 and get a profit of US$7 500 just because they have recruited other people, is it miracle money?” she asked.
“I am so sorry Sisi Kiri, but you don’t have to be so desperate for money. Do you know that if people know that you are desperate for money they take advantage of you?
“I don’t know why women are being used and robbed of their money.”
While the pyramid scheme was the dominant theme, this episode also looked at how people were being fleeced of their hard-earned money by so-called spiritual leaders, in particular false prophets and traditional healers.
“Also people are being robbed through religion. People are promised financial breakthroughs by prophets and traditional healers, but funny enough you are made to pay huge amounts of money for you to make money,” Shelea said.
“We just need to be careful Sisi Kiri. Let’s learn to keep our money safe.
“You know last week I was hurt reading a story in the newspaper about a United Kingdom-based woman who met a guy through social media, Facebook, and started sending him money because he had lied that he was constructing a house for her.
“The boyfriend squandered the money.”
The drama’s cast includes award-winning actress Caroline Mashingaidze, veteran actor Nash Mphepo, Siziba, Nobert Makoche, Magenga, Shahmaine Mukutirwa and Farirai Mhuru.