Cases of money fraudsters are on the increase in Tharaka Nithi county, even as the police continue with investigations after the recent nabbing one of the key suspects in the intricate syndicate.
Another suspect was cornered by the police Saturday, while in the final stages of printing some Sh2 million counterfeit notes. The suspect was also found with Sh50,000 in cash that he had apparently swindled from unsuspecting members of the public.
Josphat Njeru Mwenda, from Materi village in Tunyai location Tharaka South Sub-county was arrested and held at Chuka police station before arraignment in court.
Meanwhile, Meru South Sub-County Police Commander David Ngondi has for the second time cautioned the residents to be wary of looming fraudsters in the area, including fake money dealers commonly referred to as “wash wash” in which several people have lost their hard earned cash.
Addressing the press outside Chuka police station Saturday, Ngondi said Mwenda was arrested at his hideout in a Chuka town hotel after a tip off from members of the public.
He added that the suspect and his accomplices have been practicing the fake money game in the neighbouring areas including Tharaka and Embu.
Only five days ago, Lawrence Mugendi Kiragu who hails from Ikuu area in Tharaka Nithi county was nabbed by the police as he tried to print millions of counterfeit notes in one thousand shillings’ denomination for a friend he had allegedly met on facebook.
Ngondi disclosed that the victim met Mugendi on facebook way back in 2018 and continued communicating to the extent of exchanging telephone numbers until December last year, when Kiragu called to inform his online friend of his wish to visit him.
And in the same week, five other suspected fraudsters claiming to be selling cancer-cure seeds were arrested at Kanyakine market in Meru County.
The suspects, among them two Arabs are being held at Chogoria police station waiting to be arraigned in a Chuka court Monday. The four men and a woman were enticed into a trap by a police informer from Chogoria area in Maara Sub county posing as a customer.
Addressing journalists at Chogoria police station on Friday, Maara sub county Police commander Mohamed Jarso said the suspects were arrested with several seeds that they were selling to the informer.
He said according to the initial police investigations, the fake seeds that they purport sell at Sh5000 each can easily found inside the neighbouring Mount Kenya Forest.
Jarso said according to the information given by the victims, the fraudsters approach unsuspecting members of the public and present themselves as business people dealing with the ‘cancer curing seeds,’ adding that sometimes they target cancer patients or their relatives.
At the same time, police in the area have also cautioned parents over extortionist children after investigations revealed that a secondary school student had recently faked kidnapping to get money from his parents and relatives.
Tharaka Nithi County Criminal Investigation Officer (CCIO) Betty Chepng’eno has called on parents and relatives of any child who claims to have been kidnapped to immediately report to the police for investigations to avoid losing their money to mischievous pupils.
Chepng’eno made these appeals after elaborately revealing how concerted efforts by detectives from Marimanti, Nkubu, Tharaka Nithi County headquarters and additional gadget handling experts from the regional office in Embu ‘rescued’ and took a Meru School student back to class, where he is expected to undergo counseling and continue with his education.
She revealed how the detectives used the mobile money transfer app in the ‘victims’ mobile telephone to locate his whereabouts, after which the youth gave them a detailed report of his faked kidnap, citing his lust for fancy clothes that tempted him into crime.
By Faith Njoroge/David Mutwiri