A St Michael woman is living in fear over thousands of dollars she says people are now refusing to pay in a “meeting turn” leaving her exposed and at the mercy of angry participants in the savings scheme.
After several people who got their “turns” refuse to continue to pay, 39-year-old Alicia Francis said she was now struggling to find the money she owes to disgruntled participants who are demanding their funds.
In tears, during an interview at Barbados TODAY’s office this morning, a terrified Francis said she felt as though she was living a nightmare since for the past four weeks her name has been plastered over social media, and she and her family have been threatened.
“I want people to stop threatening me. I want people to stop threatening my family. The meeting is at least three weeks backed up and I am trying my utmost best to get everything rectified but I can’t do it without you all. Please, I don’t want nobody cursing me or threatening me,” she said.
“I want to apologise to the people that I owe turns to. I want to also apologise to the people that already have turns. But in order for me to go forward with the meeting turn like I did for 19 years, I would like the people – you all know who you all are – that get turns, that are not willing to pay back, I am begging you all to please pay the meeting money so the meeting could go back on track. If when the meeting done that you all are in, and you all choose not go back in, then I have no problem with that,” Francis added.
The aggrieved woman who said she was still mourning the death of her nephew 17-year-old Kyrique Boyce who died after falling into a 100 feet well at Pine, St Michael, last month, noted that the meeting runs for different time periods.
To shed some light on the amounts people are owed, Francis explained that there were turns which run for 25, 30, 50 or 51 weeks. She said some people throw $800 per week and collect $40 000, or $50 per week and collect $1 500.
“They got people that does throw $2000 a week in different meetings. It is different meeting turns so some people have to get like $5000, some people, $10 000. Some people waiting for $2 500, some people waiting for $6000,” she said.
Francis said that while there are people saying she is dishonest, she wants it to be known that she has never stolen anyone’s money in the 19 years she has been managing the meeting.
When asked if she did not relate to participants at an early stage, the difficulties she was facing Francis said she did not have a mobile phone for a while to be able to communicate with people. “But I was trying to drive around reassuring people that the meeting is still up and running.”
She said it was just last week she got a new phone but in the meantime, she has been verbally abused.
“I know how you all feel. I feel bad. I went in a shell. I didn’t steal anybody’s money. I didn’t give any money to anybody. The meeting run into difficulty. But when I should have taken charge of it, I went in a shell when the first social media came out talking about I live this place and I live that place. They even put up my cell number and my landline number,” she said.
Francis added: “I just want ya’ll to know that I have never dipped my hand in ya’ll money, or touch it. I ain’t change from no swift to no jeep out of nobody money. I never once for 19 years touch this meeting money to do my own thing. My money is involved in this meeting too.
“I am begging you all to please help me through this situation because some of you all was in here all 19 years. Nineteen years ain’t 19 days. As people are saying, they did not have a problem before.”
Noting that she made a formal complaint to the Black Rock Police Station regarding the matter, Francis pleaded with those responsible for trying to “demolish” her family, to stop it.
“My son is frustrated, he saying people targeting he. But if I had the money I would pay it. If I had the money I would have just pay out the meeting and done with it. This killing me. I move from 140 pounds to 100 pounds, this killing me. I ain’t eating, sleeping, nothing,” she said. [email protected]