By EDDIE MOSES
UNSUSPECTING mothers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been victims of a scam that swindled hundreds if not thousands of their hard-earned cash.
A woman, named, established an entity known as PNG Mama Heart to Heart Foundation early last year and under the pretext of helping underprivileged mothers, proceeded to collect fees and other payments from them.
The fees and payments were purportedly for passports, visas, airfares and accommodation costs for the mothers to work as fruit pickers on Australian farms.
Every meeting the mothers attended they were asked to pay an initial fee of K100, which was later reduced to K50. The mothers were told at these meetings that all the necessary requirements were being pursued and that their travel was imminent.
However, the travel date has been deferred so many times that a couple of mothers become suspicious and demanded their money back from the named woman.
Prominent women leaders who have heard of this scam are angry and have called on the woman concerned to account for her shameful conduct towards the unsuspecting mothers.
Ms. Katherine Eremas, a women's advocate and committee member of Port Moresby YWCA's Membership and Program Committee who has been instrumental in exposing this scam is adamant that regulations should be put in place to deter such unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of the ignorance and illiteracy of our mothers.
Schola Kakas, the President of the National Council of Women, has supported her stand.
Ms. Kakas said such regulations would protect the less well informed. She issued a warning to small people not to be gullible. Check with the council to see if such groups are registered. "This simple action wills safe guard your money," she said.
Another Woman leader, Susan Setae of Papua Hahine, condemned the scam and its perpetrators. She questioned how such people could live with themselves. It is criminal to steal from the small people, she said.
Ms Setae who is also a volunteer with the Port Moresby General Hospital's Family Support Centre said too many such mushroom groups are very dishonest in their dealings with the ignorant and illiterate small people of this country.
Meanwhile, Sunday Chronicle has been reliably informed that a complaint was laid by some mothers against the woman principal of the PNG Mama Heart to Heart Foundation on Thursday. The source said the mothers confronted the woman at the Waigani Police Station and demanded their money back.
She has reportedly told the angry mothers that she will refund their monies today.