A Botswana company with a membership register of more than 1500 citizens has been linked to a pair of global financial gangsters who have allegedly wreaked havoc in Britain, South Africa, Canada, Ireland and Holland, among other countries.
The Botswana Police Serious Crime Squad and the Bank of Botswana have launched an investigation into the business practices of C ÔÇô Lifestyle Management Group, a company allegedly operating a pyramid scheme and believed to be linked to British-based international scam artists, Rob Fitzpatrick and George Singh.
The Botswana company, whose local director is music star Mpho Nakedi, follows the modus operandi of internationally outlawed network of companies associated with Fitzpatrick and Singh: high pressure “invitation only” presentations at five-star hotels, offering shopping discounts for a membership fee running into thousands of pula.
Presenting a P20, 000 groceries hamper to the Botswana Red Cross Society last week, C-Lifestyle Management director, Mpho Nakedi, said the company was part of the ‘perfect4u global Lifestyle Membership organization.’
Sunday Standard investigations have turned up a number of scam watchdog websites linking Perfect4U to Fitzpatrick and Singh. The duo is reported to be the invisible hand behind a global network of pyramid scams. Although they are said to be operating from behind the scenes, with no visible legal links to the companies, a number of scam busting websites swear they are the ones issuing instructions.
Serious Crime Squad Officer Commanding, Milton Mapange, confirmed that they were investigating the business practice of C-Lifestyle Management and their British partners believed to be Fitzpatrick and Singh.
Although Fitzpatrick claims to be a multi millionaire, an online watchdog site, Scam.com, states that “In fact, he is bankrupt with debts totaling more than ┬ú330,000. In 1996, he headed Freedom International, a pyramid scam that recruited people through happyclappy meetings held in Birmingham and elsewhere.
“Recruits paid ┬ú2,600, and they were promised big commissions for every new member that they in turn signed up. But as with every pyramid organization, the fatal flaw in the Freedom International system was that it needed a never-ending flow of new members to pay off. In 1997, Freedom International was closed down after an investigation by the Department of Trade & Industry. And in February 2000, Robert Fitzpatrick was declared unfit to be a company director and banned from British boardrooms for 11 years.”
The website further claims that Singh and Fitzpatrick decided on their network of global companies, among them Perfect4U, which is trading as C-Lifestyle Management Group in Botswana because they are not allowed to trade in the UK.
The site further states that Singh “is always changing his name. He even has different email addresses depending on who he’s talking to.”
Other international companies linked to the duo are Millennium Leisure International, (MLI) a company suspected of operating a pyramid scheme in South Africa. The South African police launched an investigation of money laundering against the company; Absa Bank was asked to freeze their account pending the investigation and the South African Reserve Bank hired a fraud examiner to confirm whether or not the company was complying with SA law regarding illegal pyramid schemes and money-laundering.
“The investigators received instruction from the Reserve Bank after receiving complaints that the institution (MLI) had been taking deposits illegally. The institution (MLI) was not registered with the financial services board and should be if it is taking deposits.”
Investigations revealed MLI’s connection to similar benefits package clubs OMI and VIP operated by Leisure Marketing International in the UK that promised high pay-outs to members who recruited others.
Scam.com posted a warning earlier this year that Perfect4U was the latest front in a string of pyramid scams operated by Fitzpatrick and Singh: “By the way, I just found out today that these people are launching into Germany. This is inside information from one of the managers in the company. Their new name is Perfect 4U; you can find them at www. Perfect4u.com. Pass the word around the internet, www.perfect4u.comwww.is going to scam thousands around Germany and any other country they open up.” The same people are behind it. The same ones that ran OMI, VIP, UNITY and MLI.
Another warning reads, “I have late breaking news from the top managers of OMI/VIP/MLI, these scam artists have again opened up another company called www.perfect4u.com. Behind the scenes the same scam artists who are taking money from hard working individuals in S. Africa. The leaders are still the same, Rob Fitzpatrick, George Singh, and the crew that follows them. This information is straight from their management team. Pass the word around, Germany be careful, do not join any company that has anything to do with www.perfect4u.com. Look at their track record, from Canada, UK, Ireland, Holland, South Africa, wherever they have gone, they have either been shut down or will soon be shut down, and why you may ask… because its an illegal pyramid.
The site also carried an article allegedly from a British newspaper which reads:
“OMIGOD, Ketan Hirani’s at it again. His vicious pyramid scam is back on the prowl after we helped run them out of the UK.
When we found them in July 2005, they were OMI Club. Three months later they’d become VIP and banked around ┬ú17million before the High Court slapped an injunction on one of the ringleaders, Gurdeep Singh, in January 2006.
”By March, his cronies, now called LMI, were back in business, pouncing around top London hotels conning people out of thousands of pounds with promises of untold riches they couldn’t possibly keep.
That is… until we turned up handing out copies of our past articles to would-be victims.
And that was the last we heard of these crooks – until they resurfaced in South Africa.
”Ridwaan Paruk was worried his gullible friends were “signing their lives away” to an organization calling itself MLI and asked if the same people could be behind the scam.
It certainly sounded familiar with high-pressure invitation only “presentations” at five-star hotels – think 1980s disco meets religious cult.
A succession of suits took to the stage in Johannesburg to smarmy their guests into paying 11,394 rand (around ┬ú900) to join their exclusive “club”.
We’d heard their patter before, including “get the lifestyle you deserve” and “don’t worry, this isn’t a cult”.
To the strains of Tina Turner’s Simply The Best, victims were told they could earn up to ┬ú42,000 in 10 months.
They won’t – because like all pyramid schemes, this one will collapse with most losing all their money. The only guaranteed winners are the crooks