Thu, 04 Dec 2003

Tunisians quizzed over alleged fraud

The City Police questioned on Wednesday three Tunisian nationals who were allegedly involved in fraud.

Tipped off by Veronika Mulyasari, 53, a victim of the fraud, the police arrested on Tuesday the three suspects at a fast-food restaurant on Jl. Gajah Mada, West Jakarta.

One of the suspects has been identified as Benali Hause.

An investigator said Veronika had given the three men more than US$16,000 in a bogus deal. The men told her that the money would be "magically" multiplied and used to develop an entertainment spot in Hawaii, the United States.

Veronika told reporters on Wednesday that she was introduced by a friend, Marini, to the three in 2000 at the same restaurant where they were arrested.

The three talked her into investing capital to build a pub abroad, saying it was a good business. She thought the profit reaped from the establishment could be used to send her daughter to study in the U.S.

"They even demonstrated before my eyes how they could iron a blank piece of paper and turn it into a U.S. dollar," she said.

Veronika claimed she had sold her house for Rp 200 million ($23,529), from which she gave the men $11,500 on Dec. 7, 2000, and $5,120 on Dec. 22, 2000. She said the men had asked for another $30,000, but she had no savings left.

The three disappeared soon after, until Veronika's daughter Filia spotted them at the very restaurant where Veronika had first met them. They have denied Veronika's accusations. -- JP