Top News Desk: An extensive inquiry conducted by Bangladeshi media Ekattor Television has revealed that a local and international gang has stolen crores of taka from around 40,000 people across 16 districts in the country via an app called E-Movie Plan. It is estimated that this group has made away with at least 400 crore takas in the course of a year. The individuals affected are mainly from rural areas, and many of them have become destitute due to their greed for a greater profit.
Taifur Rahman, who has been selling tea near the Rajshahi Agricultural Development Bank for 30 years, is one of the victims. Last December (2022), one of his customers told him about the E-Movie Plan app and its potential to generate large profits in dollars. Despite the low income he was earning, Rahman took a loan and invested Rs 1 lakh. Since then, there has been no trace of the app.
The Ekattor Television team then started their search to find out where this app was running in Rajshahi. They eventually compiled a list of 32 representatives of the app in 16 districts including Dhaka, Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, and Naogaon. They identified Rashidul Islam, who works for a non-governmental organization and was known as E-Movie’s Rajshahi City Partner, living in the Koerdara area of the Rajshahi metropolis.
Rashidul told the investigation team that he had been introduced to the app through Ajmal Huda Manik, whom he had met at his job. The app had spread to many parts of the city and its outskirts like an epidemic, from children to the elderly. The situation in the Narikelbaria area of Ward No. 30 of the City Corporation is particularly dire.
The same is true in the Prematali Union of Godagari Upazila. There, numerous victims have been found, with businessmen too ashamed to speak of their losses. Shihab, Taufiq, and Omar Farooq have been identified among them. The app was later shut down, and the three men have since gone into hiding.
The investigation team also discovered that hundreds of thousands of people in at least 15 villages of 3 upazilas of Naogaon district have lost crores of takas. It is believed that Farhan Ahmed and Taufiq Ahmed were in charge of this district. After speaking to around 2,000 victims from Rajshahi, Naogaon, Natore, Chapainawabganj, and Sirajganj, the team was unable to find the original owner of the app.
The investigation further revealed that a five-star event was held in a hotel on January 7, attended by city partners and major investors, including three men and one woman who identified themselves as E-Movie‘s Vice President, Asian Country Director, and Public Relations Officer. One of them was Michael, who had regularly gone on Facebook live to promote the app‘s various offerings.
The hotel authorities stated that the conference room had been rented out by an individual, not an organization and that the payment had been made in cash. Analyzing social media data, it was revealed that a number of people had earned more than crores of takas via the E-Movie Plan app, while thousands had lost lakhs of takas, mostly through loans or lending.
Brian John and Michael were named as the vice presidents of the company, and it was further promoted from a page called ‘All Events in’. IT experts believe that the masterminds behind this fraud are not from Bangladesh, and that law enforcement agencies must take active steps to identify them.
By: Habiba Sultana