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By Philbert Aisaisa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 9) – An illegal fast money scheme is conning Central villagers in Papua New Guinea to deposit money in return for windfall.

Called the PNG Forest Product Ex-Servicemen and purportedly an offshoot of another illegal scheme Papalain, it is promising the people of Inauaia and neighbouring villages in the Mekeo area millions of kina in return if they become members.

The illegal money scheme is said to be operating out of Pari village in the Central province, and is targeting villages along the Papuan coast.

The PNG Forest Product Ex-Servicemen had been telling investors it had millions of kina coming from Germany to their Westpac Bank account in Port Moresby.

But Westpac marketing manager Pauline Magari described the claim as false.

"This is hilarious and it is unacceptable for the bank to be dragged into this nonsense," Ms Magari told The National.

The name of the fast money scheme is similar to the PNG Forest Product Ltd, a respected company in the timber industry.

The deputy general manager of PNG Forest Products Ltd, Ian Cobb told The National his company has no relationship with the illegal money scheme in anyway.

"I do not understand why the Government authorities are letting these con artists make a living out of the poor and innocent villagers," Mr Cobb said.

He said his company employs more than 1,000 people and had been in the country for a long time.

He called for the prosecution of the leaders of the fast money scheme.

Central Bank of PNG deputy governor (Policy and Regulation) Loi Bakani said the bank was currently conducting an awareness campaign against illegal money scams.

He said public notices were being taken out in the print media warning the general public to be aware of such schemes.

He said the notice was to warn people not to invest in these money scams because their money would never be returned.

He said the promise of large amounts of money would never be realised.

"Currently, four illegal money schemes — U-Vistract, Papalain Association, Hosava Stocks and National Federation of Association — were facing legal action," Mr Bakani said.

He said PNG Forest Product Ex-Servicemen was basically Papalain Association.

The coordinator for the PNG Forest Product Ex-Servicemen Andrew Puge, who is responsible for collecting money from the villages in the Mekeo area, promised a payout on Dec 28, 2005, but this did not eventuate.

Members who paid K55 were issued with ID Cards carrying the PNG Forest Products logo and the postal address in Bulolo, Morobe Province.

Since the emergence of illegal fast money schemes such as U-Vistract, Money Rain, Hosava Stock and Papalai Association, many people have lost thousands of kina without receiving anything in return.

January 10, 2006

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