Further fraud charges slapped on cult leader

The National Police Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) has named cult leader Dimas Kanjeng Taat Pribadi a suspect for allegedly defrauding people of Rp 25 billion (US$1.92 million) by claiming to be able to multiply banknotes belonging to the victims.

General crimes director Brig. Gen. Agus Andrianto confirmed on Monday that Taat had been declared a suspect, according to Antara news agency.

The National Police charged Taat with fraud after the East Java Police named him a suspect in the murders of Abdul Gani and Ismail Hidayah, who were is followers, and in a Rp 830 million fraud case.

Several investigators from Bareskrim have been deployed to assist the East Java Police in investigating two reports that Taat was involved in fraud causing another Rp 1.5 billion and Rp 200 billion in financial losses, respectively.

Taat, a mystical leader who owns a sprawling retreat in Probolinggo, East Java, was previously arrested in connection to the murders of followers of his, two of whom were apparently planning to expose the secret behind Taat’s so-called magical ability to multiply banknotes.

His “mystical ability” attracted more than 20,000 people to become his followers, including renowned Muslim intellectual Marwah Daud. Videos showing him sitting on a chair, dressed in white and pulling out Rp 50,000 and Rp 100,000 banknotes from his back previously went viral on social media. (evi)

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