Four people believed to be the brains behind a cartel that has been swindling unsuspecting teachers millions of shillings on the pretext of securing job opportunities for them have been arrested.
The cartel which the DCI says has infiltrated the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) database has been conning teachers out of their money, promising to offer them employment opportunities, promotions, and preferable transfers to renowned schools.
According to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the criminals have been working in cahoots with staff in crucial departments at the TSC headquarters.
For instance, TSC’s internal investigations department had received numerous complaints from teachers who had been defrauded colossal sums of money in the scam.
“In a letter written by the Commission’s CEO Dr Nancy Macharia on May 21, 2021, inviting DCI to conduct detailed investigations into the syndicate, Dr Macharia revealed how fraudsters had opened several fake Facebook accounts in her name, and defrauded unsuspecting teachers millions of shillings, on the promise that she would offer them employment opportunities at a fee,” says the DCI.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the syndicate involves a current and a former employee at the commission.
“In a well-choreographed syndicate, detectives established that the mastermind of the scheme Japheth Kyalo Kioko is a former records management employee at the commission, who graduated from the University of Nairobi with a degree in Human Resources. Kyalo was dismissed from the commission in 2014 on grounds of questionable integrity.
“However, he successfully recruited the commission’s principal accountant Jeremiah Musyoka Talu in his network. Musyoka has been accessing teachers’ personal information discreetly, before sharing it with the cons.”
How the fraud is executed
Kioko allegedly accesses the database and fishes out details of prospective teachers who have made applications to join the noble profession.
He [Kioko] then shares the information with Musyoka who uses the CEO’s fake accounts to lure unsuspecting applicants. In order to convince the applicants that they are actually communicating with the CEO, they share with the applicant their personal information as captured in the database such as the schools where they had applied to teach and the subjects they have applied to cover.
Confronted with all these facts, the applicants fall for the trap hook, line, and sinker. They are asked to part with hundreds of thousands of shillings to secure the scarce opportunities, lest they are offered to other ‘deserving’ applicants.
“In one such case, a primary school teacher reported to the county director of education in Bomet armed with a letter of posting. The director went further and posted the teacher to a school within the county, where a vacancy existed. However, it was later discovered that her employment letter was fake after she had rendered teaching services for almost one term.
“A similar case was also reported at a secondary school in Thika, where a teacher from Kisii travelled all the way and took up a teaching position at the school. Later, it was discovered that he had not been hired procedurally after covering lessons for a whole month.”
Syndicate also target retiring teachers
The fraudsters working with rogue officials from the pensions department also target teachers due to retire and cajole them with promises of fast-tracking their pension at a fee.
In the end, the teachers lose their entire pension and savings to the marauding phonies.
“One such teacher who had retired in Webuye, lost Sh 700,000 in the intricate network that involved the cons, a shylock and crooked officials based at Treasury’s pension department. The teacher was approached by one of the conmen and was enticed into taking a loan from the Nairobi-based shylock.”
The DCI adds that: “Unbeknownst to the retiree, the scammers took his personal details and used them to open an account bearing his name at a bank in Webuye. The details were then shared with the crooked officials at the pension department who processed his pension and wired it to the account. However, the money was immediately reverted to an account operated from Nairobi, where it was withdrawn. The retiree died shortly thereafter. Detectives are currently investigating 14 such cases, involving retirees who have lost their entire savings.”