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 From the African press

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Mr. Green
419Eater is my life

Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 332
Location: is everything

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:28 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I’m in Malawi this week on business and read the following article in the local paper while having breakfast at my hotel.

Although it’s not a major revelation to say that prisons are becoming a recruitment center for big-time criminals, I still thought this showed an interesting dimension to how the scams operate and was a good reminder that it is not just people from "rich" countries who are being conned.

Prisons Becoming Con Centers
By Emmanuel Muwamba, Kisumu Kenya (published in the Malawi Nation July 28, 2008)

Have you ever imagined winning a competition you never entered? In Kenya, it is part of life.

People receive short messages (SMS) on their mobile phones advising them that they have won prices in competitions they never entered.

Thanks to Kenyan vice president, Kalonzo Musyoka who raised a red flag with prison authorities that citizens were being conned, others threatened by inmates from that country’s prisons.

The question that beckons for an answer is “How do prisoners con and threaten people when they do not communicate with the outside world?”

Musyoka’s concern led to a massive search in maximum security prisons and hundreds of SIM cards, scratch cards and mobile phones were impounded.

So how do people fall prey to prisoners?

Since my arrival in Kenya in March this year, I have “won” two competitions.

Read the first SMS I got on May 19, 2008 (barely two months after my arrival in that country): “Congratulations! You have been awarded 200,000 shillings (US$ 2,800) and other household items. Please call the number below for more details.”

Then on July 4, 2008, I received another one saying I had won a pick-up vehicle in an ongoing promotion by one of the mobile phone service providers.

Both messages were sent to me through Tanzanian telephone numbers and I got the SMS at very odd hours (which made me believe what one of my colleagues told me that they were bogus messages from conmen, but she did not know the SMS were from prisoners).

What bothered me most was that I “won” promotions I never enrolled. I waited for a reminder, but it never came.

To many, such messages brought joy, only to discover later that they were sent by conmen.

The media recently made some stunning revelations that thousands of Kenyans receive such messages on a daily basis.

In fact, what was more fascinating was that such messages were coming from prisoners, locked up in maximum security reformatory centres.

This is how some criminals in Kenya are able to make millions of shillings even though they are behind bars.

TV footage of a haul of phones impounded in the prisons illustrated this quite starkly.

But what is worrying most people is that instead of being correctional centres, prisons are fast degenerating into institutions where some of the biggest crimes ever recorded are being plotted and executed.

Prison officials, in a special operation of Naivasha and Kamiti Maximum Security Prisons, found 200 and 270 mobile phones respectively. They also found many used and unused SIM cards believed to have been used in the racket.

Soon after the operation, prison authorities told the nation that they had confiscated gadgets that were being used in conning people.

Officer-in-charge of Kamiti Prison, Joseph Mutevesi said the July 12 operation was launched after investigations revealed that the messages were sent from the two prisons.

“They have been calling and sending short messages (SMS) to unsuspecting people threatening them with death. Some have been sending promotional messages, demanding ransom before one gets the prize”, he said.

He added that Criminal Investigations Department (CID) officers informed them that anonymous callers from Kamiti Prison were demanding money and threatening the public.

Officer-in-charge of Naivasha Prison, Patrick Mwenda said they have established that most of these items are sneaked into the institutions by relatives and friends who come to visit the inmates.

According to the officer-in charge, his officers discovered a register from one of the inmates where personal details of those fleeced were recorded. Mwenda termed some of the inmates as smart as they could even con traders in Dubai, Pakistan, and Egypt.

The operation has so far unearthed SIM cards from Tanzania and Uganda phone companies, but can still be used by local subscribers in Kenya.

But how do these phones and SIM cards find their way in to the prisons?

Mwenda said relatives use bread and bars of soap to pass on the phones and SIM cards to the inmates.

Police spokesperson, Erick Kiraithe told the media that the police are receiving hundred of threat complaints and orders to deposit money from unknown people in Kamiti and other prisons.

Several people have testified of having been conned through SMS.

“Winners” are advised to call certain numbers and give out their personal details, including bank accounts to facilitate hand over of prize.

They are also asked to send some cash ranging from Ksh 5,000 to 10,000 (US$ 70-140) to speed the process.

But it later dawns on them that they have fallen prey to the tricksters. Some even borrow huge sums of money from banks with the hope of paying back the money when the prizes are redeemed.

Probably the most touching story was that of Richard Gitau, who on March 10 this year got the SMS advising that he had won Ksh 1 million (US$14,000) in a promotion by one of the leading companies in Kenya. He was told to deposit Ksh 5,000 (US$140) in a bank account.

He built his castles in the air, hoping he would buy a second hand pick-up vehicle and parted with another Ksh15,000 (US$210) as tax.

Today, Gitau cannot trace the men to took his money. The phone the conmen used remains switched off to date.

Just like Gitau, I also “won” twice in promotions that never existed, but the difference is that I am telling a story of how the racket has been uncovered from maximum prisons while Gitau, a farmer, has been conned.

The world is becoming a global village. Next time it may be you falling prey to tricksters condemned to prison cells, places that are fast becoming recruitment zones for big time criminals. Beware.

Mortar x3
Sand Timer 25 months, <a href="">Mr. Scot</a> "Skipper has never communicated to us since the campaign event took place last year. we did'nt get a cent from that event either."
Sand Timer 24 months, <a href="">Mr. Uche-uka</a> "There is no way that I would have put in this enermous amount of time, work and money without being serious with this huge task ahead of building and running an orphanage."
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Kabuto Sama
Master of Master Baiters

Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 577
Location: In Pula pe Bega

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 7:22 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

This type of scam exist in my country too.
"Bla, bla, You won several thousand euros!" or "Bla bla You won a brand new [insert automobile brand here]"

Ghana x3 Hong Kong Portugal United States x4 China Nigeria South Africa United Kingdom x5 Malaysia x4

your father is a pig and your mother is a are a bastad and you will die shold ask your father where you bastad came from.South Africa is not for white.someday we will kill you all whites in africa and in south africa.up Zulu. -- the angry Zulu lad

you are a foolish Man that is why people like you dont achive good things in Life forget it if do not want to jelp this young Man
Asshole! - angry ghanaian "barrister"
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Not quite a Newb

Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Posts: 39
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 7:51 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Reading this is quite infuriating. More so the fact that things aren't going to change but most likely get worse.
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