Some of the clients of Gentrac at the Ho Police Station
Some Residents in Ho and its immediate environs have been swindled by a financial institution operating under the name, Gentrac Microfinance Limited.
The company, which made away with thousands of Ghana cedis, started its operations slightly over a year ago and was located on the top floor of the Melcom Building in Ho, along the Ho Stadium road.
The offices of the company had been locked for some weeks now which had its clients wondering how to retrieve their hard earned moneys. Some of them had reported the case to the Police while others sent threatening text messages and cursed the operators.
Fortunately for them, the over 200 clients, most of whom had been saving with Gentrac for a year now, were called and sent messages to assemble at the company’s office on Sunday 25th August, 2013 at 2:00pm to collect their moneys.
Anxious clients lined up in front of the office, wait till night with no signs of the company’s officials. They then gave up and left to their various homes and villages. They returned yesterday morning hoping to see their service providers for their money only to realize that the office had still been locked.
Many of them started wailing while others were dumbfounded. Some trooped to the Police Station to make a report. A group of them who DAILY GUIDE met at the Police station could not hide their frustrations, pouring out their hearts to passers-by, friends and relatives.
One of them, Victor Bedzra, a 56-year-old Drinking Spot Operator said he had for the past five months been traveling to and from the company in an attempt to withdraw his GH₵5,000.00 but to no avail. Peter Doe Awudi, a bookshop owner, also had GH₵1,900.00 while Comfort Keleve had GH₵220.00 with the company. Others who refused to disclose their identities due to personal reasons, had also lost GH₵10,000.00, GH₵8,000 and GH₵6,700 among others.
The microfinance company, which had one Frank Akotia as its Area Manager, lured its unassuming clients to save with them under the pretext of providing them with loans and other benefits, only to rip them off.
The clients of the bank, numbering over 200, were told by the company and its roaming agents that, all they had to do was to save with them on a daily basis for a minimum of six months to qualify for benefits. The company operated like an improved version of the traditional daily ‘susu’ system.
Thus apart from agents going round to collect money from clients and depositing for them, clients were given accounts and issued receipt books and check books like the service rendered in a bank.
The process had been going on smoothly until about five months ago when some clients were finding it difficult to access their savings. Attempts to withdraw money or take a loan became a hassle, as clients were tossed and asked to return on later dates until they became frustrated or fortunate to receive in most cases part of the amount they requested.
One of the clients who had closed his accounts told DAILY GUIDE that he had to cause the arrest of the Manager, Frank Akotia before his request to withdraw money was granted. He explained that “I started saving in November last year and decided to withdraw money last July, 2013.
They were tossing me here and there and I reported the matter to the Police and the Manager, was arrested and put in cells before I was paid and I closed my account immediately.”
The dejected clients pleaded with the police to help apprehend the fraudsters and retrieve their moneys since the livelihood of their families depended on it.
Credit: Fred Duodu, Daily Guide, Ho