© Facebook/First Travel
The number of customers, agents and partners' losses keeps on rising.Tunggul Kumoro 24 August 2017 11:25
The government is urged to take responsibility for First Travel umrah scam victims as some see the scam is a result of Religious Affairs Ministry's weak supervision as the regulator of the implementation of hajj and umrah.
"Religious Affairs Ministry should have known that Rp 14 million is not a rational number [for an umrah package], moreover, [First Travel operates] with ponzi scheme, yet they were allowed [to operate] for up to seven years," said Tulus Abadi, Chief Executive of Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) at Hotel Borobudur, Central Jakarta, Tuesday.
Ponzi scheme itself is a false investment scam that generates profits to investors from their own fund or the next investors, not from the money earned by individual or company that runs the scheme.
Tulus suggested the government to reach out to and discuss with the House of Representatives for the possibility to compensate the fraud victims.
"Even if replacing losyt money couldn't be done because it concerns the state budget, at least the Religious Affairs Ministry should apologize to people who have fallen victim," continued Tulus.
It's a no from the government
On the other side, Vice President Jusuf Kalla insisted that the refund would only be charged to the travel agency The government, according to him is unable to perform bail out to compensate the loss due to certain condition.
"The refund should be done by the one who got the money, isn't it? You did not receive any money and you're asked to repay. So, who's actually accept the money?," said Kalla at the vice presidential office, Central Jakarta, Tuesday.
He also regretted the potential pilgrims for not being selective in choosing the umrah travel agency.
"That is the consequence of each of them for trusting the low-cost one. Therefore, the government couldn't [be responsible]," said Kalla.
Due to the case, the government reportedly is about to review and set a new limit on umrah package.
"But even if there's a minimum limit, as long as the travel agencies apply the ponzi scheme, it'll be just the same," said Kalla.
"Eventually, everything is regulated. Travel agencies for umrah must be registered and checked. Not every of them could organize umrah because they should have a link [of local organizers] registered in Saudi Arabia," added Kalla.
To date, the police has arrested and named First Travel owner Andika Surachman along with his wife designer Anniesa Hasibuan and her brother Kiki Hasibuan suspects.
Around 58,000 people nationwide have reportedly fallen victim to the fraud scheme perpetrated by the agency, which according to the police now earned Rp 848 billion from the scam.