0

Video: Updated - Chaos As Hundreds Demand Refunds From Pineapple Express

Hundreds gather outside Pineapple Express on Friday morning. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff

Hundreds gather outside Pineapple Express on Friday morning. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune staff

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

Sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

CHAOS erupted at Pineapple Express Asue Holders office off Cowpen Road early Friday morning after hundreds of angry persons stormed the building in an attempt to collect money owed to them.

When The Tribune arrived on the scene shortly after 8am, scores of persons had already gathered outside the office, which was still closed.

Nearly a dozen Royal Bahamas Police Force Officers attached to the Central Detective Unit and the K-9 Unit attempted to organize the madness but their efforts were in vain.

On Wednesday, the Securities Commission warned the public that local “asue” business Pineapple Express Asue Holders should be viewed as “unsafe and very high risk” and advised members of the public to “exercise extreme caution when considering to engage with this entity or persons soliciting membership.”

The commission said the methods used by Pineapple Express is structured like a “pyramid or Ponzi scheme” where promoters claim they can turn a small investment into large profits within a short period of time.

The statement urged anyone with concerns about the company to contact police.

On Monday, the company, after being unable to pay out several “hands” or disbursements to customers was called into a meeting with the Securities Commission.

In order to join the “asue,” persons are required to pay a one-time fee of $200 and receive $1,050 or pay $100 and receive $540. Participants are also required to pay a $25 membership fee. Persons are also required to pay a $25 processing fee each time they rejoin for a payout. After signing up, persons receive a payout in “around 14 business days.”

On Monday, Pineapple Express executives met with members at the Breezes Resort to discuss the way forward.

Hours before the meeting, the company posted that they would be closed on Monday, August 21, and reopen for business on Tuesday, August 22.

However on Tuesday, they remained closed and asked anyone with questions or concerns to send them a message on Facebook.

Shortly before midnight, the company issued a statement saying government officials and authorities have “asked them not to open" and that they would issue refunds to customers between 10am and 1pm on Friday.

Several hundred people gathered at the headquarters only to be told by police, shorty after 10am, that no one was coming to issue refunds and the owner of the property wanted "the crowd" off his premises.

In fact, the owner began towing vehicles off the sidewalks and from parking spots in the plaza in order to free up space for customers in the surrounding shops.

Despite being asked to leave, the crowd refused to disperse. Shortly after 11am, officers told the group that a representative from the company was on the way but everyone had to get in one line.

Payouts began around 11.30am and several persons told The Tribune that they were fully reimbursed.

Raquel Bowe, 34, said she joined the "asue" because she is unemployed and needed money. Despite not being able to receive the "hand" she was promised, Ms Bowe said she would join a scheme like this again.

"I really thought this was going to work, the lady seemed sincere. After she couldn't pay she called a meeting and in the meeting she said she overwhelmed herself by collecting too much applicants each day and because of that she is going to have to restructure," Ms Bowe said.

"I believe this is ridiculous today, I didn't have to go through this to give them my money but I have to wait with all these people to get my money. People are hurting and we invested our money with plans to get the money they promised.

Ms Bowe said: "I am not employed and I need my funds. As a matter of fact I already purchased a plane ticket with the anticipation of getting this money to go away. I have a friend that has children that she wanted to get ready for school for Monday but now she can't do that, next time I will join sooner."

Shanika Longley, 42, said she received one "draw" several weeks ago and paid another $300 for another "draw" which she hasn't received. She also said she would join this type of "asue" again.

"I put $300 and I got $1590 and I reinvested $300 and they are telling me persons who reinvested won't get their money back. I don't think this was a scam, her intentions were very good she just got overwhelmed," Mrs Longley said.

"When it initially started it was a good process but everyone caught on to it and she kept taking and taking and it was hard to pay people back. I don't think these people will get their money back, she just doesn't have it and taking it to court don't make no sense.

"I would do this again," Mrs Longley said, "I benefitted. Persons gambling and losing money, everything in life you do is a gamble."

Many persons have described the business as a “pyramid scheme”, similar to the “loom” phenomenon, which became popular in the Bahamas several months ago.

In January, the Securities Commission announced that looms are fraudulent pyramid schemes.

In the loom scheme, persons were asked to join groups and contribute small sums of money to get a larger payout, for instance $100 with the promise of getting $800.

The Tribune attempted to contact Pineapple Express but calls were not returned up to press time.

Comments

CommonSense 2 years, 2 months ago

LOLOL 3am?! These people never learn. I'm sure another 'pineapple express' is going to open and they'll be right there waiting to join!

0

John 2 years, 2 months ago

We, as humans, will always say "I will know better for next time." But when 'next time' comes around you get deceived and buy into the scheme even before you know it. And even though the old adage, "if it sounds too good to be true, then it's too good to be true", is still true, many still find themselves kicking themselves when they fall for these type of money grabbing schemes. There are many scams running on the internet, some inviting you to pay in $1,500 and get double your money in a few days. So offering you computer repairs services, but they hack into your computer and steal your information. Of course if you are foolish enough to bite the bait, kiss your money goodbye. And then the light bill, rent, car note or school fees go unpaid.

0

TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrades! If you're going yell - then yell at the longest running "Pineapple Express Ponzi (VAT) Scheme" operated by the politicians at the top with direct access to the People's Public Treasury's vaults?
At least those gathered in front Ponzi schemers office this morning had an option not to hand over their hard-earned money..... But even this 'newest set red politicians' - leave the poor and the near poor - with no other alternative but to pay VAT on top the prices for "Breadbasket Items."

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

And because the regulators have once again failed these public school educated dumbed down gullible people, like the regulators did with CLICO and BOB, our new government may be inclined to step in and use our hard earned tax dollars to mitigate the losses that these people would and should otherwise incur. Can't wait to see if our new FNM government will try to buy the support of these people by throwing our hard earned tax dollars their way just like the corrupt Christie-led PLP government always did in an effort to 'buy' supporters of the voting kind. It certainly didn't pay-off for Christie and the PLP (they lost the last general election) and the same will be true for Minnis and the FNM down the road if they are so stupid as to use our tax dollars to bail-out these people. Already Minnis and the FNM seem to have betrayed their supporters by their apparent decision to adopt lock stock and barrel the failed Bahamas Resolve bail-out plan that Christie created for BOB; a failed plan which continues to use our tax dollars to keep both of BOB and Bahamas Resolve afloat notwithstanding their de facto insolvency with absolutely no possibility whatsoever of any recovery! And to think we, the people, accepted at face value Minnis's campaign promise repeated over and over again that he would put an end to Christie's foolish policy of using ongoing taxpayer support to subsidize future operating losses of BOB and Bahamas Resolve on an indefinite basis. Most of us are now left to truly wonder whether Minnis can be trusted. He and his new cabinet have also gone totally mumm on arranging for the repeal of all of the web shop legislation enacted by the corrupt Christie-led PLP government that is 'allowing' the racketeering numbers' bosses, like Sebas Bastian and Craig Flowers, to wreak havoc on our economy. Just how much money did Minnis and the FNM party take from the corrupt numbers' bosses to fund their last general election campaign, and what was the quid pro quo???!!!!!!

0

BahamasForBahamians 2 years, 2 months ago

This is a perfect opportunity to see how fair the Minnis Administration is.

The proprietor Tessah Munroe is an FNM general and once serving TYA executive.

If there are no charges or no significant effort to recover the sums then we know how serious this government is about corruption 'from the hill to the valley'.

2

Gotoutintime 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm sorry--Anyone who is gullible enough to fall for such an obvious scam deserves to have a problem---Nobody gets something for nothing unless you're a politician.

0

TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Getoutintime, I guess you also believe that anyone who is gullible enough to fall for such an obvious red shirts scam as No more VAT on the poor and near poor peoples "Breadbasket items" - should also deserve to have a problem buying only the very basic grocery items and necessities?
You must realise that government's have had their electoral mandates cut short for even less evil failures than that of Not delivering on their campaign's election promises?

0

Reality_Check 2 years, 2 months ago

We, the people, were certainly gullible enough to listen to the likes of Perry Christie, Michael Halkitis, Gowan Bowe, John Rolle and that crooked accountant, Ishmail Lightbourne, tell us that we had no choice but to accept paying VAT so that our national debt could be significantly reduced. And after paying the VAT they all wanted, we ended up with an even higher national debt! Yeah, we're all really stupid.

0

Gotoutintime 2 years, 2 months ago

Tal, with the greatest respect, there is a great deal of difference in being gullible and "living in hope" as I did when I joined the 60%? majority who voted for the present Government. I have been voting in Bahamian elections since 1962 so I consider myself immune to election promises. Maybe this time I am wrong but we will see. Have a safe weekend!

0

TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Gotoutintime, wasn't it the PLP's at top food line that "Regularised" the Numbers Rackets." Will it now be left to the Red Shirts to "Regularise" Scams? But likewise with all greatest respect, I am hearing street corner talk that a well connected Red Shirt is at the top food line of the Pyramid?
It also seems that the poor and the near poor regardless of colours t-shirts in power - still have line up for food handouts and clothing hand-me-downs... whilst those at the top the food line - looks down on them?

0

Gotoutintime 2 years, 2 months ago

No doubt about it Tal, no party is comprised only of angels. It is quite true that the poor will always bear the greatest of hardships and that has been so since time immemorial. Hopefully things will be different and I am sure we will both be watching the future with great interest.

0

rawbahamian 2 years, 2 months ago

Ah Lord, people still falling for "something for nothing" schemes, then they deserve what they DIDN'T get !!! Don't you all get it yet??? NOTHING IS FREE !!! That's like buying a can of corned beef and expecting to get Filet Mignon when you open it ! Come on people, THINK!!!

0

Socrates 2 years, 2 months ago

i only have two concerns.. will these folks who were fleeced, expect gov't to reimburse them like the failed insurance company of some years ago? was this activity legal? if not, where is the Attorney General's office to bring the villans to justice?

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Minnis needs to shut down the corrupt web shops owned by the racketeering numbers' bosses and establish a National Lottery to satisfy the gambling desires of our society. Profits from the National Lottery could then be exclusively used to help fund our public education system. This is the road that Minnis, KP and Jeffrey Lloyd should all be on, and the sooner the better.

0

Sign in to comment