Prime Multipurpose Cooperative Society embezzled crores of taka from 2,500 subscribers by promising them high profits on deposits
Rezaul Hasan, a middle-class youth from Kotwali thana in Faridpur district returned home from Saudi Arabia in 2007 after serving as an accounts officer in a foreign company for 12 years.
He got married in 2008. His life was going smoothly with his wife and two sons until he fell in the trap of a fraudster gang in 2011.
That year, he got acquainted with a woman named Shampa Rani Das, a member of Prime Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited, who lured him with the promise of Tk3,000 profit every month on a Tk1 lakh deposit with her organisation.
Tempted by the prospect of high profit, Rezaul deposited Tk70 lakh – Tk47 lakh from his own savings and Tk23 lakh borrowed from his sister – with Prime Multipurpose Cooperative Society.
But Rezaul's high hope of changing his fate overnight did not take much time to fade away as he was not getting the promised profit month after month. He realised that he was trapped by fraudsters and hence claimed his deposited amount, but was not getting that either.
When Rezaul was moving from door to door to get back his money, he was sentenced to six months in jail in a cheque fraud case filed by his sister from whom he had borrowed money.
The latter part of the story is more pathetic.
Rezaul was arrested in February 2017 and sent to the Dhaka Central Jail where he died on July 14 the same year, plunging the happy family deep into distress and poverty.
Rezaul's wife Shahida Sharmin told The Business Standard, "Prime Multipurpose Cooperative has taken away all that my husband had earned in his life. He died in prison where he was serving a sentence in a case filed by his sister. I am finding it hard to make ends meet with my two sons."
In a choked voice she said, "My elder son is a student of class five and the younger one is in class one.
"After my husband's death, I could not stay with my in-laws and had to rent a house. I work in a local kindergarten as a teacher and give private tuition to students. I have been leading a humble life with whatever I earn."
She also said Shampa Rani was leading a gorgeous life with the money earned through fraud.
"She has bought a house and a car. But I am living a sub-human life. I want stern punishment of this fraudulent woman."
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Police on January 9 arrested president of Prime Multipurpose Cooperative Limited Reazul Islam Raju from Jashore.
Accused in 18 cases, Raju was arrested in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) with Faridpur Kotwali police station for embezzling Tk15 crore through fraud.
A CID officer involved with the investigation confirmed this to The Business Standard.
During interrogation Raju admitted to taking money from 2,500 subscribers through deception, the officer added.
Faruk Hossain, additional police superintendent of the CID said Raju and Shampa Rani had worked in a multipurpose company named Rupali for 10 years. Later, they formed their own company Prime Multipurpose Cooperative in 2010.
CID officials informed The Business Standard that the fraudster gang opened about 20 branches of their organisation in Jashore, Satkhira, Faridpur, Kushtia, and Magura with certificates from the Prime Multipurpose Cooperative in 2010.
They embezzled crores of taka from 2,500 subscribers in the next four years, promising them high profits on their deposits.
CID investigations also reveal that Raju owns two houses worth Tk5 crore, two covered vans and 10 bighas of land in Jashore.
The CID has also found that he has two cars and land in six places under Prime Multipurpose Cooperative Society's name.
Shampa Rani Saha, a powerful member of the gang spent some time in jail after she was arrested in 2015 and later got released.
Other members of the clique are now continuing their activities with local registration. The CID has been trying to catch them.