The Founder and Leader of the Gateway Chapel International at Teshie, Reverend Prince Adeblorh Dugah, was last Friday arrested by the police for operating an illegal financial institution akin to Pyram and also for allegedly duping several people who registered with the institution. More than 8,000 people, including members of his church, many of whom complained to the police that they had fallen victim to the alleged money doubling swindle of Rev Dugah, gathered at the Headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service on hearing of his arrest.
He is alleged to have collected more than ¢2 billion from members of the scheme.
The victims paid a registration fee of ¢100,000 each to be a member of the “Help Your Neighbour Welfare Scheme”. Additionally, they contributed between ¢1 million and ¢15 million to the man of God to have their money doubled for them.
Rev Dugah had been arrested earlier on February 23, 2006, but he was granted bail and ordered to stop operating his “Help your Neighbour Welfare Scheme” business but he found the scheme too attractive to abandon.
When the police followed up on more complaints from victims, they realised that those complaints involved the same person.
The Deputy Director-General of the CID, Mr Patrick Kwabena Ampewuah, told the Daily Graphic that Rev Dugah registered a company, “Help Your Neighbour Mission”, which operated a welfare scheme, dubbed, “Help Your Neighbour Welfare Scheme”, in October 2005. The actual operations of the scheme took off in January this year.
He said the suspect told members of his congregation that some foreigners were bringing huge sums of money to the church to support members through a welfare scheme.
Mr Ampewuah said Rev Dugah requested members of the congregation who wanted to be part of the scheme to pay a registration fee of ¢100,000 each.
Rev Dugah, he explained, asked the members to deposit any amount of their choice and it would be doubled in two weeks' time.
Mr Ampewuah said after the money had been doubled, members could withdraw the entire amount.
He said Rev Dugah told the congregation that even after withdrawing the entire amount, they would have the same amount doubled after another fortnight.
He said as part of the rules of participation in the welfare scheme, each member was also to introduce at least three more people into the scheme, with the promise that any member who introduced 36 people would be entitled to $2,000 or ¢25 million.
Mr Ampewuah said that attracted not only members of the congregation but non-members as well.
According to him, although Rev Dugah was able to meet the initial demands of some members, pressure came to bear on him as the numbers increased.
Mr Ampewuah said that made Rev Dugah to begin to tell a cock and bull story to those who showed up to collect the returns on their money.
There were some, he said, who could not even collect the initial deposits they made to Rev Dugah.
He said following initial complaints, Rev Dugah was arrested on February 23, 2006 and granted bail and ordered to stop operations.
Mr Ampewuah said the police kept on receiving more complaints, which led to his arrest last Friday.