Saturday 22 July 2023


A freedom bid by founder and suspected mastermind of an online Ponzi scheme E-Creator, Zhao Jiaotong and his two other accomplices Justin Kuchekenya and Trymore Tapfumaneyi flopped again yesterday after their bail application was dismissed by a Harare magistrate.

In her ruling, Mrs Marehwanazvo Gofa, concurred with the investigating officer, Detective Brighton Samaneka, that the suspects were a flight risk and therefore, not proper candidates for bail.

Investigations established that the trio defrauded unsuspecting people across the country of around US$1 million. The magistrate said the suspects were facing a serious offence which might induce them to flee the country.

In opposing bail, Detective Samaneka said when they arrested Jiaotong on July 12, he was on the verge of skipping the jurisdiction of this country.

He said his aim was to place himself in a country beyond the jurisdiction of the Zimbabwean courts.

He added that Jiaotong was sitting on loads of fraudulently obtained money which gave him reason to abscond.

Detective Samaneka said Kuchekenya was likely to abscond as he is facing a very serious offence involving large sums of money.

Kuchekenya was the one working in the E-Creator offices at Joina City and he could be positively identified by hundreds of witnesses.

The court heard that sometime in January 2023, Jiaotong hatched a plan to defraud unsuspecting Zimbabwean nationals through an online investment Ponzi scheme.

It is alleged that on February 7, 2021 the trio acting in connivance with Bily Thomas Syedou, Abraham Mutambu and others who are still at large, registered a company with the Zimbabwean Registrar of Companies styled E-Creator Electronic Commence Private Limited under company registration number 2853/23.

Its registered office was room 15 and 16 10th Floor Joina City Building, Harare.

The court heard that Jiaotong went on to launch the company as a global online e-commerce operator.

Between February and July 2023, the accused misrepresented to unsuspecting Zimbabwean nationals that if they invested with the company, they would enjoy huge monthly profits depending on the amount invested.

Many Zimbabweans across the country flocked to the company and collectively invested up to US$1 million through various Ecocash numbers supplied on the platform by the accused.

To make the company more attractive and appealing to unsuspecting Zimbabweans, the accused used the media including the national broadcaster ZTV, social media and powerful Zimbabwean socialites namely including Tarisai Cleopatra Munetsiwa also known as Madam Boss and Admire Mushambi also known as Mama Vee to advertise the company business on their social media platforms.

They also employed various agents in major towns and cites throughout the country to market the business.

On July 3, 2023 some of the complaints encountered challenges in accessing their funds and approached the company for clarification.

One of the accused, Abraham Mutambu assured the complainants that it was system upgrade that was preventing them from accessing the funds.

He further advised them that the situation would normalise in due course. However, on July 5, 2023, the complainants were shocked to realise that E-Creator Electronic Commerce Private) Limited had actually posted a notice on their website that they were no-longer operating and they posted the passport photo of accused Zhao Jiatong saying he was the one who taken their money and absconded to China.

The complainants also visited accused’s known offices and got the shock of their lives when they had been permanently closed and there were no signs of business operations.

Furthermore, they got information that the accused person had actually withdrawn the money and fled.

As a result of accused’s actions complainants suffered an actual prejudice of US$1 million and nothing was recovered. Herald


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