27 January 2013

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Swindlers Gang Up to Steal From Bank Customers

A syndicate of thieves stalking customers who withdraw their money at ATMs and those making payment transactions at banks is rearing its ugly head in Dar es Salaam, the 'Sunday News' can report.

Relying on a tip-off provided by one of the victims, the 'Sunday News' went undercover and stumbled into the gang of two men and a woman, one aged about 27 years and another, in his late 40 or early fifties. The duo are driving a tinted Toyota Spacio.

After a lengthy conversation, this reporter established beyond doubt that the two men speak Kiswahili with an accent from Kagera Region. In order to lay a trap on their target, the swindlers send a bait, which is either a woman or a young boy, depending on the The bait is a dare- devil, well trained to act with confidence and caution.

In more than a month of following up on how the gang makes it moves, the 'Sunday News' established that while the duo may have swindled several people, in just one 'sting', they succeeded in pocketing 500,000/- from a retired civil servant, one Cyprian Gregory (real name withheld).

"It was the gravest mistake of my life. It's an experience I don't even want to explain. I'm hoping that God will revenge for me," said Cyprian. Unaware of a ploy to swindle him, the retired civil servant from Moshi in Kilimanjaro Region, had offered to help a young boy from Singida, who was looking for a mineral dealer, outside a bank at Shauri Moyo area.

He had just settled some bills inside the bank when the stranger approached him. "The boy posed as a bornagain Christian who was afraid of being conned by crooks in Dar. The only person he would trust was an elderly," said Cyprian. However, as their conversation gathered momentum, and in a mysterious circumstance, the young boy was joined by a young man aged about 27 years.

The latter offered to take both of them to a renowned geologist who also deals in minerals at Magomeni Mapipa. "While at Magomeni, a middle- aged gentleman driving a tinted car welcomed us into his vehicle, saying he would test first the gemstone to establish its authenticity. Some 300,000/- cash was needed for a laboratory chemical.

I was the only one with an ATM card, so I went straight to a nearby teller machine and withdrew that amount. In no time, the 'geologist' requested another 200,000/- for some tax that would enable us sell the 200 grammes of gold the boy was holding, at a colossal sum of 32m/-!" said Cyprian.

The conmen were not in a hurry, they engaged Cyprian in a lengthy conversation, asking him what business he was interested in and whether he was ready for a partnership. They even exchanged telephone numbers and in the end, he accepted the 200gm of 'gold.'

However, when he consulted with a goldsmith, he sadly learnt that he had been conned. He tried to phone the 'geologist' but his number and that of his accomplice were not reachable. "I have been approached by conmen in Dar, but not of this type. They are professionals.

Many people will fall into their trap," he said. In a similar but rather complicated attempt for a rip-off, the 'Sunday News' reporter was accosted by a middle-aged lady at Tabata CRDB Bank early Saturday morning.

The lady pretended to be looking for Barrick Gold offices, saying she was from Muheza District in Tanga Region and had been told that the giant mining firm was buying the gemstone and could be located in Tabata area, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. Like the boy from Singida, the woman, too, had 200 grammes of gold.

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