The number of victims of an alleged pyramid-like scheme revealed by the South China Morning Post continues to rise, with losses now totalling HK$12 million. This comes as several victims are taking the case to court and a man who was sued by a former business partner denies he was involved in the scheme. According to a police spokesman, 291 people filed complaints from March 27 to December 6. The spokesman said two suspects, who were arrested in March, had been released on bail and have to report back in February. The pyramid-like scam, which reportedly ran from 2013 until early this year, affected dozens of domestic helpers, particularly those from Indonesia. Since the Post first reported the case on September 4 , losses increased from HK$8.4 million to HK$12 million and the number of victims almost doubled. Holly Allan, director of Helpers for Domestic Helpers, an organisation that has supported some of the victims, said two domestic workers had filed a claim against Mezzo Holdings Limited and Mezzo Holdings INC in the Small Claims Tribunal. “It is difficult for most of them to file a claim because they are employed and are unable to go out during the week to attend court. They are not allowed legal representation at the Small Claims Tribunal,” Allan said. She added that victims were also considering filing claims in the District Court. “Of course we hoped that the investigation could be speedier as some women took huge loans, which they have to pay back,” Allan said. “If perpetrators could be prosecuted that would help the victims’ civil cases,” she said. Dozens of victims were left in serious debt as many took out loans to invest in the companies. Some are also facing family and social conflict after introducing relatives and friends to the scheme, which reportedly involved a myriad of Hong Kong-registered companies with similar names, directors and addresses. In May this year, Mezzo Holdings and one of its directors, Shrestha Gokarna Prasad, sued two other groups, Mezzo Holdings INC and Needs Global Food and Beverage, as well as the groups’ head, Alam Maqsood. The two men shared businesses and offices, but the extent of their connection remains unclear. According to the notice of claim, Shrestha, who was detained in March, blamed Alam and accused him of “unlawfully misappropriating” money as well as breaching agreements. Shrestha said he and Mezzo Holdings suffered damage to the tune of HK$100 million, arguing that fraud rumours caused “great damage” to his reputation and businesses. In an interview with the Post, Alam denied responsibility and claimed he had been manipulated by his former business partner. Alam, 43, who returned to India, said that he met Shrestha back in 2011, when he first arrived to Hong Kong looking for a job. “Shrestha told me about a few websites or companies that had changed the fortune of people,” Alam said. “Shrestha arranged a Hong Kong frequent travel pass for me and started making companies in my name. I was assigned the work of software, websites and back-office activities,” he said. Alam, who claimed he was made to sign “blank papers”, insisted that “all the decisions of the company were taken by Shrestha and his two associates.” Alam said he noticed something was seriously wrong in July 2015. But he claimed he was “blackmailed” when he tried to distance himself from the companies. “I want to bring the facts to the public and clear the wrong perception about me ... and I don’t want others to be victimised like me,” Alam said. Shrestha denied Alam’s accusations. “We never manipulate anyone... We hope he can come to Hong Kong and face punishment by the authorities in Hong Kong,” the businessman said. Shrestha denied he or his companies were involved in a pyramid scheme. According to the Companies Registry, Alam is director of five different companies. Since the Post’s last report , in September, Shrestha’s involvement in several companies seems to have changed. He was director in at least 16 companies, whereas now he appears to hold the post in just three.