Duo entangled in alleged fruit-picking scam

Two Lae residents came under fire on social media in the last two days when the Member for Maprik, John Simon, posted on Facebook that he met them stranded in Manila and purchased their return tickets to PNG.

Norbeth Petol and Darusila Henry arrived in Port Moresby on Tuesday and told their story.

A story of big dreams that got shattered by empty promises from an alleged scam.

Even more worrying is that, both aren’t the only ones scammed, three others have come forward, confirming the story and how all of them have spent hundreds of kina with hopes of earning more money from fruit picking in Australia.

With so much negative publicity from Facebook, Petol and Henry, together with three other victims of the alleged scam, met with the Member for Maprik, John Simon, to set the record straight.

Serah Mandukara and Mark Kitopa were also victims in this so-called fruit picking scam by a consultant called Kamu Study Abroad.

Each had their own reasons for pursuing this interest, but one thing was for certain, they dreamt of a better life with more money than what they were getting, working in a shop.

After hearing some successful stories of Papua New Guineans fruit picking in Australia, this was an opportunity of a lifetime. 

Mandukara, Kitopa and Petol all worked at a shop in Lae City. They were told by the consultant that if they are serious about fruit picking, they have to resign from their jobs and pay a registration fee of K350 and a security fee of more than K1,000.

The consultant was able to purchase their tickets to Port Moresby but later abandoned most of them and arranged only for Petol and Henry to travel.

She told them at the last minute that they were travelling to Japan instead of Australia – Japan because they had to undergo training before fruit picking in Australia.

Both had to transit from Manila to Japan. The consultant told them, when in Manila, she will arrange for tickets to Japan, but after three weeks, the tickets never came.

It was pure luck that the Member of Parliament, John Simon, bumped into them.

The duo have indicated that they will be laying a formal police complaint against Kamu Study Abroad Consultancy.

(Picture by Imelda Wavik)

Charmaine Poriambep