THE Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Mohamed Muya, has distanced himself from conmen who have been using his name and office to steal money from other officers in the ministry.
Of late, he said, his name has been mentioned by unknown fraudsters in four cases linking him with deceitful dealings in which it was fraudulently portrayed that some regional and district officials had sent him money through mobile phones.
"The trick should have been easy to unravel. But, unfortunately, some people I do not know made phone calls on various occasions pretending to be me (Mr Muya). Taking my position, they took turns to cheat that I am on an official tour somewhere and that I am in a desperate need for money to facilitate the tour.
"The impersonator has on a number of occasions called certain people (pretending to be me) and explained that the car I was travelling in got an accident and I, therefore, needed money for urgent repairs," Mr Muya said.
"Some of the officers who have found themselves in the conmen's trap include Arusha and Makambako National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) managers; the Longido District Executive Director and the Pangani District Agricultural and Livestock Development Officer (DALDO).
Most attempts to get money through this trick failed except for the Pangani District Agricultural and Livestock Development Officer who sent 300,000/- to the fraudster. According to the PS, these conmen also succeeded in obtaining 800,000/- from government officials through the same tricks, beside the 300,000/- obtained from the Pangani DALDO.
The conmen also stole 500,000/- from officials in Uvinza District in Kigoma Region. The mobile phone number used in his dirty racket is 0757813317, which after preliminary investigations by the Ministry's Legal Officer, Mr Ernesto Doriye, was found to be owned by Saidi Mkumba.
According to Mr Muya, the conmen have been instructing their 'prey' to carry out the transaction through phone number 0766487181, misleadingly naming the owner of the number as Mr George Lubeleje, the former MP for Mpwapwa.
Mr Muya said that when investigators contacted Mr Lubeleje, the former legislator denied making the calls, saying that he had never been a Vodacom customer and had never possessed the phone number.
In most cases, the fraudster introduced himself as the ministry's Permanent Secretary and demanded money to finance the tour of a parliamentary committee to agricultural projects. What he (fraudster) failed to give were more details on the tour.
Mr Muya said that he was astounded to receive phone calls from people, some of whom sympathized with him over the inconveniences he had been subjected to. He said that the ministry's legal officer had already notified relevant authorities for further action.
The PS advised entire public and government officials to be more careful, especially when they are requested to send money for some cause via numbers they are not familiar with. "I wonder how a government official like me would ask for money in such inappropriate manner. There are appropriate channels to follow if such emergencies would occur -- not mobile money transactions," Mr Muya said.