…police accused of stealing $500, P1 000 from loot
…investigating officer ‘given $30 via EcoCash’
MASVINGO – A daring group of alleged fraudsters who duped dozens of desperate job seekers of their money in an elaborate scheme that involved registering many sim cards using inaccurate details and placing fake newspaper notices appeared in court on Monday facing fraud charges.
Patricia Magazini (34), Beauty Dzviti (29), Jairos Mupamhadzi (35), Respina Manjeru (45), Herbert Munyikwa (45) and Martha Nyapokoto (46) allegedly placed a fake advert in the Herald of September 19, 2017 with a list of names of applicants who had purportedly been accepted for a nurse training course at Masvingo General Hospital.
The advert was a culmination of a long-running fraud scheme going back into 2016; ripping off a total of US$60 000 from at least 55 unsuspecting victims.
Mupamhadzi, Manjeru, Munyikwa and Nyapokoto were granted free and unconditional bail as defined by Section 50 of the Constitution on condition that they were over-detained by the police.
Magazini and Dzviti, who is an EcoCash agent at Jerera growth point, were granted US$300 bail each and were ordered to report to Chikato Police Station and Zaka Police Station respectively. They were also ordered to surrender any travelling documents they might have.
December, 29 was set as the date for continuation of their trial.
It was in court, however, that Magazini made startling allegations against some police officers who arrested them, saying they took US$500 and P1 000 from her so that they could help lessen the criminal case. She also alleged that after her arrest, one investigating officer identified as Gwande asked for US$30 so that she could help her, and she sent him the money via EcoCash.
Led by prosecutor Fidelicy Nyamukondiwa the court heard that in January 2016, Magazini defrauded many job seekers by promising that she could organise for them nursing training opportunities at Masvingo General Hospital.
She used Econet sim cards which were registered in different names to receive money through EcoCash from more than 55 applicants around the country.
She later deactivated the sim cards before registering others with false addresses so that she could defraud more desperate job seekers.
At the beginning of 2017, Magazini expanded her empire of operations and recruited more job seekers. With the aid of Dzviti, she bought and registered more Buddie sim cards without any identity particulars.
The court also heard that the lines were used to receive money from Mupamhadzi who later on recruited Manjeru into the syndicate. Manjeru also fooled many job seekers; collecting thousands of dollars and promising them services he could not render.
Manjeru later on roped in Munyikwa and Nyapokoto into the scheme after introducing them to Magazini.
To placate their victims while extorting more money from them, the syndicate placed the fake newspaper notice that led many to believe the fraudsters were for real.
The court heard that the accused persons then advised the complaints to check their names in the Herald. Those with their names on the list were advised to seek police clearance and were given a list of uniforms to buy.
The alleged fraudsters then demanded payment ranging from US$500 to US$1 200 ‘to facilitate enrollment into the course’. The victims were told that they will be dropped if they failed to pay the money.local