The police have recorded 96 cases of pyramid schemes and online scam in four years between 2020 to May 2024 in the country. In Thimphu alone, 55 victims lost a total of Nu 6 million.

Thimphu police were able to return around Nu 2.7 million to the victims, said the Home Affairs Minister Tshering, during the fourth Meet-the-Press session held on May 30.

The lure of quick money is a major factor in these scams, with Ponzi schemes like Puth, QNet, Tallwin, and Enveer spreading rapidly through word of mouth.

A Kuensel article last year shared the story of a victim pressured by a childhood friend to invest in QNET. These scams typically begin with one person influencing another, promising high returns on their investment within a short period.

These pyramid schemes and online scams are typically operated from outside Bhutan, making investigation difficult. 

The minister shared an incident where a high school graduate seeking Australian visa received a scam call posing as a visa officer. Victim shared the OTP, mobile number, and CID, leading to an unauthorised deposit. The victim’s money, however, was recovered after three months with the involvement of the home ministry and police.

The minister said that scam funds often ended up abroad, with perpetrators using international phone numbers and transfers. “Even when we apprehend local facilitators, they often claim to be victims themselves, making prosecution difficult.”

The minister pointed out that the ministry is not able to process legal assessment and it has caused an issue while investigating scams and pyramid schemes.

The minister said their main focus is educating and advocating the people through Facebook page about the risks and through advocacy videos. 

The question remains how effective are their videos as many people do not know the existence of it?