- In one such instance, the DCI says, a Kiambu-based mobile money lending agent lost his working capital and entire savings worth over KSh1.5 million.
- The suspects were on Thursday morning arraigned at Kiambu Law Courts where they have been charged with obtaining money by false pretenses.
Special crimes detectives have busted a syndicate that has been allegedly defrauding unsuspecting businessmen of their hard-earned money, through suspicious get-rich-quick deals.
M-Pesa and mobile banking agents have reportedly lost millions of shillings to the suspected cons.
According to the DCI, the suspects initially pose as innocent customers before luring the agents to what initially appear as lucrative business deals. But by the time the traders realize that they have been conned, the tricksters who immediately disappear and prey for their next victim have milked them dry.
In one such instance, the DCI says, a Kiambu-based mobile money lending agent lost his working capital and entire savings worth over KSh1.5 million to the cons, after being introduced to a ‘fish food’ supplies business that later turned out to be a hoax.
The man identified as Onderi operates a shop and also offers M-Pesa services in Kiambu town. On July 23, 2020, a man who introduced himself as Momanyi came to his shop, bought a soft drink and snacks which he took as they exchanged pleasantries.
He came back a number of times on different days and the complainant developed a rapport with Momanyi who introduced himself as a fish pond manager working for foreign fish companies in Kenya. He also told Onderi that he supplies fish food and related materials, after which they exchanged contacts.
“After a few days, Onderi received a call from Momanyi who told him that he had rushed home in Kisii and he needed someone who would assist him in supplying fish food to his contacts. He told him that he would introduce him to the supplier who sells one tin of the product at Sh2,000 then he would deliver the same to the foreigner at Sh3,000 per tin. Onderi found the deal so mouthwatering to decline and fell for Momanyi’s trap hook, line, and sinker. He was asked to first deliver 100 tins,” reports the DCI.
After meeting the supplier identified as Lucky Kiplagat and buying the product, the DCI says that Onderi called the foreigner to deliver the same. The foreigner asked him to instead add an additional 150 tins, and deliver a total of 250 tins.
Onderi reportedly pleaded with him to first accept and pay for the 100 tins that he had then he would supply the rest but the foreigner curtly told him that if he was not in a position to supply 250 tins, then they had no deal.
The complainant halfheartedly bought and supplied the demanded number of tins. From this point, he was taken on a wild goose chase with all manner of excuses being given on why his payments had delayed including that the foreigner needed to convert his dollars into Kenya shillings, but the exchange rate was not favourable at the moment.
“Days later, he was asked to submit his Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN and a copy of his identification card for his money to be processed. Happy that his woes had come to an end, he hurriedly submitted the documents only to be told that he was not a registered fish food supplier and that he needed to pay Sh45,000 to become one. He was further told that KRA had sent them an alert to the effect that he had not filed returns for the past 10 years. He was therefore slapped with an Sh4,500 fine! That was not all.”
The investigative agency adds: “Onderi was introduced to a Mr Chandaria, said to be one of the top managers of the company, who would solve his payment problems with the stroke of a pen. How the said Chandaria defrauded him a further Sh642,000, Onderi could not explain.”
All he remembers, DCI says, is honouring all the requests for money made by Chandaria. His attempts to report Chandaria to police were met with warnings from his earlier contacts who told him that Chandaria was an untouchable big man ‘bazu’ who would ensure his life in Kiambu is miserable and send him back to the village in Bosongo.
In a report that had all the makings of a blockbuster movie, Onderi coughed more cash in the hope of recovering the money he had spent, until he had nothing more to give. He was even introduced to a Shylock identified as Marriana Wairimu, believed to be part of the syndicate. Wairimu asked him to pay KSh22,000 for her to advance him a KSh100,000 loan but after he sent her the money, she never returned his calls.
Dejected after losing his entire savings to the tricksters who also left him heavy in debt, Onderi walked to DCI headquarters and filed his report, at the Serious Crimes Unit.
Intensive investigations into the racket revealed that the suspects were using different names and phone numbers to conceal their true identity and that one suspect would pose as two or three different people.
On Wednesday evening, the main suspect, Kevin Ombogi, and his accomplice Allan Kiprono were arrested.
The suspects were on Thursday morning arraigned at Kiambu Law Courts where they have been charged with obtaining money by false pretenses.