JawaEye, an online investment app in Pakistan, has reportedly scammed thousands of people out of their hard-earned money, with estimates putting the total figure at Rs. 25 billion. The app, which claimed to be based in Indonesia, operated as a Ponzi scheme, promising high profits to lure unsuspecting users into investing a minimum amount of Rs. 15,000. The app has since been removed from Google Play, but it was primarily operating through a website.
The app had a misleading description on its Google Play page, claiming to be a popular film and television platform used in 106 countries and regions, which likely helped to build customers’ trust. However, the app had nothing to do with films or television. A simple search on YouTube shows that many videos with millions of views promoted the app as a legitimate earning opportunity. Similarly, dozens of Facebook groups lured people to sign up.
Like all Ponzi schemes, the app required users to spend $50 to sign up and start earning. However, the earnings were so low that it took months for people to break even, and during that time, they were provided with a higher “profit” to lure other people to sign up. One video on YouTube claimed that people had earned thousands of dollars through the app after investing just $50.
Recently, the app announced policy changes and put profits on hold, causing customers to panic and look for answers. However, by that time, it was too late. Recent Google reviews on the app show how customers slowly realized that they had been scammed, with most warning others against investing in the app.
Jawa Eye’s login portal displays a fake notice claiming that the app has reached an agreement with the New York Stock Exchange on a listing plan. This is an obvious attempt to deceive users. Recently, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Faisalabad filed an FIR against individuals in District Sahiwal involved in illegal foreign currency trading through various investment-related apps installed on their phones. They transferred remittances using unauthorized local agents in different cities, indicating that unlicensed apps cannot provide financial services without registering with the relevant departments.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has taken up the issue with Google and requested that only registered apps with relevant regulators like the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) or SECP be available on the Play Store. However, the fact that the fraudulent Jawa Eye app operated in Pakistan for months without any action raises serious concerns about the performance of relevant departments.