A Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church pastor based in Chegutu is allegedly on the run after he duped church members of their hard-earned money.
Pastor Fortunate Mawowa is said to have lured congregants into investing their money in a “company” he had set up.
He reportedly fled to South Africa in May last year when those who had invested in the company started asking for a return on their investments. At least US$40,000 is believed to have been invested in his “company” but none of the investors received their dues.
One of Mawowa’s victims said that he left for South Africa ostensibly to seek specialist medical treatment. The victim said:
We have been duped of our hard-earned money after being sweet-talked into investing in his bogus scheme.
He bought a nice car and had a white wedding, which attracted so many people, using our investment funds.
Problems started when our investments matured and we needed to be paid. He then started talking about being sick and sending apology text messages.
After realising that he was under pressure, he then went to South Africa under the disguise that he was going to see a specialist doctor.
It is alleged that since he went to South Africa, Mawowa can no longer be reached and some of his victims have been approaching Mawowa’s mother demanding their money in vain.
In recent years, several reports have emerged indicating that thousands of people have fallen prey to fly-by-night pyramid schemes.
Police said in 2021, at least 10,000 people were scammed of over US$30 million after selling houses, vehicles, and other properties to invest in pyramid schemes.
Many Ponzi schemes share common characteristics. These are:
- High returns with little or no risk.
- Overly consistent returns.
- Unregistered investments.
- Unlicensed sellers.
- Secretive, complex strategies.
- Issues with paperwork.
- Difficulty receiving payments.