Crowdfunding is the con man's oldest trick


by
DAVID LEPI
You know how the word 'Kon Man' or more proper 'con man' came into be?
It's base word is confidence man. A confidence man is a man who persuades people to give him their money or property by lying to them.
Some call them con artists because it is an art and is used by a person (s) with a certain skill set.
Well Papua New Guinean is not new to 'konman' for we have been swindled a million times. And the reason why we fall prey so easily is because we are a gullible stock of people. Anything seemingly glittering somehow draws our attention.
Just as many Papua New Guineans are starting to realize they have been tricked by professional con artists in some get rich quick scams such as pyramid schemes - U Vistract, Money Rain, Papalain etc -  a dubious project is now peddled through in what they call crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is a way to raise money from a large number of people. Large groups of people pool together small individual investments to provide the capital needed to get a company or project off the ground.
Samson Komati is the man behind the crowdfunding scheme of soliciting support - money - from the wider community including business houses, small to medium enterprises, banks and politicians in the form of pledges towards setting up a commercial bank.
Komati's scheme started few months ago and is seemingly gaining momentum as per the updates on his Facebook page.
This is no different to a conman called Noah Misingku when he first set up his pyramid scheme called U-Vistract in the late 90's but Misingku never had the convinienceof social media or the virtual platform in his time.
However, Misingku's credentials as a banker from the Bank of Papua New Guinea helped him to pass through easily and his scams were clever enough to convince a government.
Even a prime minister fell for the scam.The Government led by Prime Minister Bill Skate and Treasurer Iaro Lasaro were said to invest heavily in U-Vistract. This then compelled thousand other Papua New Guineans to invest heavily and at one time the  total portfolio stood to K380 million.
Misingku so smoothly and swiftly pulled a wool over everyone’s eye except the Bank of Papua New Guinea.
BPNG knew what was wrong and kept issuing warnings like today on digital currencies and Komati's crowdfunding. The Central Bank has some of best financial brains and top economists in our country who know how the financial markets work and their advice is no second best.
Well finally, Misingku couldn't pay the 3 monthly bonanza he promised the investors and was declared bankrupt (Post- Courier, 15 June 2000). As the law caught up on him he fled quietly  to Bougainville and is said to be hiding in the mountains of Tonu- probably laughing away.
Have we learned anything? The irony here is with this experiences still fresh in many of our people's minds and again stern warnings from the Central Bank why is the government- the custodian of common good – still entertaining the crowdfunding agenda.
Just as Satan tempted Jesus on nothing but quoting the very verses in the scriptures Komati is quoting Marape's  own mantra 'Take Back PNG' and the PM is falling head over heels.
The government has to be very cynical on this crowdfunding scam. I am calling it a scam because the holding entity of the pledges is a group called PNG Think Tank and this organization has no license or the authority from the Central Bank to hold money for and on behalf of the investors once the pledges are converted to cash.
Another reason is because PNG Think Tank is not actually a Think Tank we know of such as the National Research Institute, PNG Institute of National Affairs, national universities etc that do extensive research and their findings/publications are accredited and structurally governed by reputable bodies.
What is PNG Think Thank?
PNG Think Tank is Samson Komati's coffee haus of a handful of post graduates who make themselves look important or act as if they're some wisemen giving advice to those who cares to listen.

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