Zim diaspora investors lose millions to 23-year-old Ponzi Scheme conman Teemak

Zim diaspora investors lose millions to 23-year-old Ponzi Scheme conman  Teemak

HARARE – Dozens of Zimbabweans dotted around the globe are in the red after losing tens of thousands of US dollars to a Ponzi scheme operated by a 23-year-old suspected conman.

Taona Oswald Chipunza – known among socialites as Teemak – is now believed to be on the run after duping dozens of people into investing in a purported hedge-fund trading as Maximus Capital and its supposed subsidiary Max Harvest.

Victims in Germany, United States, Australia, Malaysia, China, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates told Kukurigo that Chipunza promised huge profits but had failed to deliver.

Chipunza’s victims include middleclass professionals and financially insecure illegal immigrants that hoped the sweet-talking entrepreneur could transform their lives.

Always dressed in complete white, Chipunza disputes accusations that his investment vehicles are a fraud despite the entities not being registered with regulators in any jurisdiction.

“This project has successfully paid out over US$50,000 since its inception, it is unfortunate that we ran into some challenges which have taken longer than we anticipated to resolve,” Chipunza told disgruntled investors who have formed a Telegram group to find a solution.

Payouts had been set for July 31 but Chipunza has failed to settle growing debt running into hundreds of thousands of US dollars.

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes and all I ask is your cooperation, so we make this work for all. Certainly, all will be paid,” he said in messages gleaned by Kukurigo.

His alleged accomplice, one Rumbidzai Mhizha who collected investments for the failed scheme, said it was not their intention to scam people.

“The organisation is not mine, its Teemak’s. The only difference between me and all the other investors is that I chose to help with everything I had and I’m still trying to do what I can to help pay back,” Mhizha told _Kukurigo_.

Participants believe the fund is now attempting to pay existing investors with funds collected from new victims.

Mhizha acknowledges the scheme collapsed in June but denies that it is still collecting investments.

She had earlier told investors that they had suffered significant trading losses.

“For now, our priority will be to try and payback the capital not all at once but gradually until we are presented with other opportunities to do more than that,” she said.

A United States based participant who identified themselves as TC said Chipunza had discouraged participants from cashing out by offering even higher returns for those who remained and invested more. Some took the bait and lost twice.

“The young man is clearly a fraud,” he said, adding that victims in the United States, Germany, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and China have begun lodging police reports.

Another participant who said she invested R200,000 told _Kukurigo_ she has been chasing Chipunza for months with no luck.

A German-based investor identified as Gamu said many of Chipunza’s victims were too ashamed to lodge police reports.

“Many high-profile figures have been duped but cannot bear the shame of people knowing they were scammed by a young boy,” she said.

“He says he is millionaire but is in hiding. He is a pretender.”

Chipunza told journalists in January that he was a prudent businessman who became a US dollar millionaire early in his life, starting off in sales for a UK investment company before leaving to start Maximus Capital.

Chipunza signed Zimdancehall artiste Enzo Ishall from Mbare-based Chillspot Records, promising world class management. It is unknown if anything became of the contract.

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Source: Kukurigo Updates

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