– believed to have raked in over $10M
By Leonard Gildarie
Several Indian nationals, posing as ‘pandits’ with mystical powers capable of solving domestic problems and healing sicknesses, have disappeared into thin air and it is believed that they have fled to neighboring Suriname.
It is now estimated that the men, now said to be numbering more than 10, came into the country via three-month visas almost two months ago, and raked in over $10M from unsuspecting Guyanese who came to them for help.
Police have reportedly alerted its ports and border points to be on the lookout for the men who hurriedly left Saturday night and there has been no sign of them since.
On Friday, Kaieteur News reporters went undercover to the David Street, Kitty operations of one of the alleged scam artists. This was following several complaints last week by Guyanese who claimed that they paid thousands of dollars for the ‘pandits’ to heal sickness, fix domestic problems and host of other issues.
A male reporter and a female co-worker, posing as his wife, were told that someone had worked black magic on them and this was the reason the “wife” was not getting pregnant.
He demanded US$225 to fix the problem.
It is believed that at least five of the Indians arrived here about seven weeks ago and immediately split up, with one heading to Ruimzeight, West Coast Demerara, another to Vreed-en-Hoop, another to Bagotstown, East Bank Demerara, one to Georgetown and another to Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara. It is also believed that there are quite a few more, with some of them stationed in Berbice and on the Essequibo Coast.
Kaieteur News had refused to carry any advertisements from the men after suspicions arose that it was all a scam.
The elaborate scheme began to unravel last week when this newspaper received several complaints of persons paying thousands of dollars to the ‘pandits’ but were not receiving what they were promised.
In one case, a woman said she paid $96,000 to remove a sore from her foot. Three weeks later it was still there.
A Mahaica contractor said that he paid US$225 to heal his sick daughter.
“Three weeks pass and she still feel sick. I went back to him (the astrologer) and he seh that we gun have to do a bigger puja. I know then that something fishy.”
Yet another alleged victim earlier this week claimed that he visited the Bagotstown ‘pandit’ after his wife left him and went overseas.
“I tell he I want her back. He tell me to pay $35,000 and he will do a puja and she will come back in three days. I tell he to do the puja, get her back and I will pay him $100,000.”
From all indications, the Indian nationals decided to flee on Saturday after Kaieteur News went back to the David Street operations and took a number of pictures, including a few of the ‘pandit’ there.
That same evening, a businessman who had rented a property at Ruimzeight, located right next door to a prominent Ashram, received a call from the ‘pandit’ there who said he had to leave immediately for India as a relative was dreadfully sick.
Another ‘pandit’ who rented an upper flat above a Chinese restaurant at Vreed-en-Hoop, also left hurriedly Saturday, the same day he moved in.
To date, there are no signs of the one at Bagotstown and the other at Mon Repos.
From all indications, the men came prepared for a hurried exit as their operations were small.
At David Street, a small self-contained apartment told the tale too clearly of the men’s sparse belongings and their intentions.
A notice on the fence which listed the ‘pandit’ services, including palm reading, solving domestic problems and healing the sick, had been torn down. A garland that once hanged over the doorway had also been removed.
Speaking with this newspaper earlier this week, Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, said that the police have been actively pursuing the fraudsters who he confirmed were not granted work permits.
“We have an exercise to round them up because they are in breach of our laws. We have been tracking them down based on the addresses they advertise,” the minister told Kaieteur News.
According to Rohee, there is a widespread view that the activities of these persons are merely economical.
“It’s a sham. If these people could tell the future then they do not need to work. They could get enrichment by seeing what is in store for themselves. Let them read their own palms and predict what they need to do to enrich themselves,” the Home Affairs Minister stated.
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