Public frauds involving cheating the masses are widespread in our society. NAB accords high priority to cases of cheating public at large which is also a serious offence under National Accountability Ordinance. Since its inception, NAB has tackled many major scams involving bogus housing/real estate companies, illegal financial companies and fraudulent individuals and groups etc. Mega scams related to the infamous Cooperative Finance Companies, Forex Companies and most recently the Double Shah fraud case, wrecked havoc in our society. Thousands of people became victims of groups of fraudsters who trusted them with their savings. Sponsors of dubious Housing Societies and Financial Schemes lured the innocent into investing their hard-earned incomes and savings with promises of attractive returns and profits. The economic, social and psychological ramifications of such public frauds on the helpless victims are tremendous and have seriously affected their lives and those of their families. In the Cooperative Finance Companies (CFCs) scam involving 102 companies, 266000 depositors were deprived of almost Rs 13 billion in the 80s, duly enticed by promises of annual profit up to 40 percent. Since 2000, when NAB was tasked to resolve the cooperative crisis, about Rs 3.0 billion was recovered in cash from the corrupt management of CFCs alongwith an income of Rs 10.6 billion from the sale of over 100 properties. A colossal Rs 8.37 billion has been returned to over 235000/- claimants as principal amount and profit from 15 percent to 70 percent has been paid to the affectees. After completion of 69 investigations, 46 references were filed in Accountability Courts which resulted in 31 convictions, one acquittal and 14 cases are under trial. The Forex companies scam of 2003 involved 57 companies wherein about 10,000 affectees lost Rs 7.3 billion on the promise of profit up to 4 percent per month or 48 percent per annum. About 2 dozen leading stalwarts of forex companies are in jail. Our Financial Crime Investigation Wing (FCIW) has recovered about Rs.1.7 billion in cash/assets and more cash recoveries from a number of forex companies are in the pipeline through Plea Bargain. Rs. 75 million has been disbursed to 1500 effectees since December 2007. Punjab was rocked by the worst ever-private financial scam in 2006/2007, the Double Shah Fraud case. Syed Sibt-ul Hassan Gillani, alias Double Shah, his family members, three other independent groups and hundreds of agents and subagents operating in Wazirabad, Gujarat, Sialkot and Sahiwal in 2006, lured about 40,000 persons into depositing about Rs 10.0 billion with promise to double the deposits initially in 15 days. After building public confidence, large cash inflow from new depositors was used to double the money of the earlier ones, hence the game was sustained for over a year. In the process almost Rs 3 billion were siphoned off to Dubai for purchase of real estate. Double Shah and many other key accused are in jail facing References in Accountability Courts. About Rs 1.5 billion have been recovered. Since March 2008, Rs 530 million have been returned to almost 10,000 direct investors with verified claims as a first instalment. Never before in the history of Pakistan has money looted from the general public been recovered from the plunderers and returned to the rightful claimants. Never before has the state prosecuted the masterminds and perpetrators of public frauds to secure the rights of the robbed. In addition to our Enforcement operations against public frauds, NAB has also focused on creating mass awareness against this menace. We believe that an alert and vigilant society will be less vulnerable to frauds. Our awareness campaign includes periodic anti-fraud advertisements in the print media, programmes on FM channels and poster campaigns. We acknowledge the media's contribution in this respect and look forward to their continued support in future as well. During a recent seminar on Public Frauds organised by NAB Punjab in Lahore, esteemed speakers from media and civil society including luminaries like Mr Arif Nizami, Editor The Nation and Mr Amjad Islam Amjad, deliberated on various facets of public frauds. At the outset, Maj Shahnawaz Badar (retd) DG NAB Punjab, raised a few pertinent questions. Why do mega public scams surface frequently in Punjab only? Why do such scams occur particularly in areas between Jhelum and Lahore? Some of the salient conclusions of the seminar were:     Accountability in Pakistan must be across the board and even-handed     The Big Fish behind all national level frauds must also be brought to justice     Punjab in general and areas along GT road from Jhelum to Lahore in particular including Gujrat, Wazirabad and Sialkot are most vulnerable to public frauds     Foreign remittances pouring into this GT road economy enabling opportunist fraudsters to exploit the rich in their greed to become richer and the poor to satisfy their needs     Media has always been in the forefront in exposing corruption and public frauds. It must continue to play this role and increase mass awareness against this evil     Regulatory Authorities including SECP, PMDC, Registrar Cooperatives etc must act proactively to preempt public scams and amend their laws if required to ensure legal steps against fake set-ups     Local administration including law enforcement agencies must act sternly and swiftly against fraudulent steps in their areas     All stakeholders including media, civil society, the masses, administration and NAB must work in harmony to combat corruption and public frauds in particular The role of NAB in tackling public frauds and providing effective relief to victims was acknowledged. NAB at is its end remains committed to ensure that all kinds of frauds affecting the public at large are proceeded against in Accountability Courts as per the National Accountability Ordinance, so as to deter future scams. If the local administration including the law enforcement agencies and the Regulatory Authorities perform their prescribed roles as per the book, there is no reason why pubic frauds cannot be preempted. But perhaps more important is the role and cooperation of the masses and the media at large to remain alert, discourage and report all fraudulent activities to the authorities including NAB at the earliest, so that the evil is nipped in the bud at the outset. It remains our national, social and moral responsibility to prevent public frauds and safeguard the interests of innumerable potential victims. Let us make Pakistan the land of pure and not the land of frauds. The writer is a retired brigadier and director investigation NAB (Punjab)