Kenya: DCI Arrests 8 for Defrauding Hundreds in Kuwait Job Scam

18 September 2019

Detectives in Nairobi on Tuesday arrested eight people for allegedly defrauding more than 300 people with the promise of greener pastures in Kuwait, the Middle East.

The suspects were arrested at 680 and Clarion hotels by detectives from Central Police Station.

The suspects - Franline Otieno, Kevin Olondi, Stella Cheruto, Joseph Gikonyo, Catherine Ngendoi, Habiba Shafi, Aisha Mohamed and Mary Ogola - are believed to have taken millions of shillings from unsuspecting job seekers.

"Over 300 victims who have allegedly been defrauded of up to Sh130,000 each to cater for logistics, training and transport to Kuwait were waiting in vain for their journey to mature," the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) tweeted.

NYS STAFF INVOLVED

A woman police believe has been receiving the money and is based at the National Youth Services (NYS) headquarters is at large.

"A suspect at large, allegedly from NYS HQs has been receiving the money ... with the promise that the group would be transported to NYS HQs before exit to JKIA [sic]," the DCI said.

Some detectives interrogated the eight suspects as others hunted down the NYS staff.

FRAUDULENT JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Every year, hundreds of Kenyans are lured with the promise of lucrative jobs and a chance to escape unemployment.

Thousands are said to be working in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon and other Middle East countries.

However, there are no official records because most recruiting agencies operate underground, with some jobseekers ending up with working conditions that border slavery.

In 2018, families of more than 70 Kenyans from Mombasa were stranded in Qatar for lack of travel documents and air tickets to return home after falling out with their employers.

They were forced to seek help from the government yet they had paid Sh120,000 to different recruiting agencies in Kenya to secure jobs in Qatar.

What many did not know was that the agencies were not recruiting firms but travel companies 'owned' by Nigerians in Mombasa.

BAN ON FOREIGN EMPLOYMENT

In September 2014, the Kenyan government banned its citizens from seeking domestic work in the Middle East and revoked the licences of 930 recruitment agencies after reports of abuses increased.

In March 2016, however, the same government lifted the blanket ban on the exportation of labour to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

The government, through the Labour ministry, said Kenyans with professional qualifications, for accounting, hotel management and secretarial duties, can freely work in the Gulf States, provided they apply through properly vetted recruitment agencies.

In January, the government allowed Saudi Arabia to start recruiting Kenyan domestic workers again.

Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said the decision followed the signing of a bilateral agreement in 2017, paving the way for structured recruitment.

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