Latest on E-Creator bosses: In addition to appointing brand ambassadors Madam Boss and Mama Vee…

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THE founder of the pyramid scheme E-Creator, Zhao Jiaotong, operated 50 Ecocash sim cards to run it.

It is believed that the Ponzi scheme cost investors more than US$1 million.

Jiaotong, Trymore Tapfumaneyi and Justin Kuchekenya appeared in court yesterday where the investigating officer, Brighton Samaneka, testified against granting bail.

The trio appeared before Harare magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa.

Samaneka, who boasts of 23 years as a cop, told the court that Jiaotong operated 50 Ecocash sim cards, which were used to scam thousands of subscribers.

He urged the court to deny them bail as he believed Jiaotong to be a flight risk.

The court also heard that Jiaotong was the brainchild of the scheme, although his name does not appear as a director on the company’s paperwork.

“Subscribers were sending the money via Ecocash to over 50 numbers that were being operated by Jiaotong.

“He was the brainchild of the E-Creator scam. He came into the country on February 3 and on February 7, Tapfumaneyi and Kuchekenya registered the company, each with a 50 percent shareholding,” said Samaneka.

In opposing bail, Samaneka said Jiaotong was a high flight risk.

“As the investigating officer in this matter, I’m strongly opposed to the granting of bail.

“I’m alive to the fact that bail is a right unless there are compelling reasons.

“I believe Zhao is a flight risk, I can submit with authority that he is a high flight risk because when he was arrested on 12 July, he was on the verge of skipping the country.

“It’s apparent that his intention was to place himself beyond the jurisdiction of this court.”

He added:

“We managed to seize a stamped passport and boarding passes from him and that alone is clear testimony that we are dealing with an accused person who’s a high flight risk.

“The passport was seized when he was about to board a plane at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and that was going to be the end of this case.

“The court should bear in mind that he’s still sitting on fraudulently obtained money which gives him the capacity to do anything at any time.”

Samaneka also said it was in the best interest of Tapfumaneyi and Kuchekenya to remain in custody because the people they had allegedly duped were furious and determined to seek revenge.

The State submitted that Jiaotong, Tapfunaneyi, Kuchekenya and their accomplices, Billy Thomas Syedou, Abraham Mutambu and others still at large, registered E-Creator Economic Commerce Private Limited in February as an online e-commerce operator.

They went on to dupe people, saying investors would enjoy monthly returns depending on the mounts invested.

Thousands of Zimbabweans flocked to join the scheme, investing up to US$1 000 via Ecocash, on the numbers provided by E-Creator.

In addition to appointing brand ambassadors, Madam Boss and Mama Vee, they also employed various agents in major towns and cities countrywide to market their business.

On July 3, some of the subscribers encountered challenges in accessing their funds and approached the company for clarification.

A member of the syndicate, Mutambu, told them that it was a system upgrade affecting access to their funds. He further assured them that the situation would normalise in due course.

On July 5, subscribers were shocked to find that E-Creator had actually published a notice on its website indicating that it was no longer operating, and posted a picture of Jiaotong, saying he had taken their money and absconded to China.

Subscribers went to E-Creator’s Joina City offices and found it locked.

The bail hearing continues today.

— HMetro

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