200 fall prey to gold scam in Bahrain
Manama, November 22, 2011
More than 200 customers fear losing money they invested in a gold scheme after the jewellery store shut down and the owner could not be reached.
They invested in the scheme offered by Atlanta Jewellers Company at Gold City, Manama, which has been closed for the past two days.
Customers say that they are unable to contact the owner, who is believed to have gone back to India allegedly after being hit by the financial crisis.
Social worker Basheer Ambalayi confirmed that many customers complained they were unable to contact the owner, as his mobile was switched off.
Gold City sources said that the store opened three years ago and had announced a gold scheme offering people a chance to invest BD10 ($26.6) per month and get the money back in gold at the end of the scheme.
For each BD10 deposit, customers were given coupons and entered into a monthly raffle draw for a brand new car and several other prizes.
Many low-income Indian workers reportedly invested their savings into the scheme, he said.
'This is the third case in three years,' Ambalayi said, warning people not to fall victim to such schemes.
'First it was Gold Link, then Star Mark and now it's Atlanta Jewellers. I don't know why people don't understand when we are still struggling to solve the Star Mark issue. We were able to repay customers half the amount, but we couldn't guarantee the other half. It's a big responsibility and a difficult task,' he added.
A customer, who didn't want to be named, said that he was worried that he would not get his money back.
'We are calling the owner, but his mobile is off and the shop is closed for two days,' he said. 'Someone told me he may have left Bahrain as there is no news about him.'
An Indian Embassy spokesman said that they had not received any complaints so far. No one from the company was available for comment.
The Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper, reported last year that more than 200 people stormed the Star Mark Jewellery shop in Gold City, after the owners closed the shop without returning their money.
In 2009, thousands of Gold Link customers were affected after it had been hit by a cash-flow crisis created by a rush of customers seeking to claim their gold.
Customers were mostly those who had lost their jobs in the construction industry due to the global financial crisis.
They had gathered outside the jewellery shop in Gold City, claiming they had lost thousands of dinars.
However, an official at the store said that customers would get their investments back.
The embassy later intervened and appointed a law firm to follow up the customers' cases. – TradeArabia News Service