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‘Good Samaritan’ hospital fraudsters steal millions from parents

Saturday March 25 2017
KNHAENew

The Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By STELLA CHERONO

Authorities have sounded the alarm over fraudsters robbing the public of millions of shillings by pretending that they are good Samaritans rushing their targeted victim’s child to hospital from a road accident scene.

Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), the largest referral facility in the region, said it had been receiving more than five cases of parents falling for the fraudsters every week since July last year.

“It has come to the attention of KNH management that conmen are using the guise that their children have been brought to the hospital in critical condition and require money for payment of medical procedures – X-ray, MRI, CT scan or theatre,” said KNH Corporate Affairs manager Simon Ithai in a statement.

“Apparently, on some occasions, the conmen know the names of their victims’ children, the school they attend and even the class teacher. Many innocent parents/guardians have sent money to the conmen before they visit or confirm from KNH. Although we have placed posters within the hospital warning the public on the same, the incidents are not reducing,” Mr Ithai said.

“It is important for the public to note that any patient brought to KNH as an emergency case is not required to pay for the medical services before treatment,” he added.

In all the cases, the script is similar – the fraudster calls the parent to inform them that their son or daughter has been involved in an accident and that he has rushed him to KNH and money is needed to facilitate treatment.

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HIT BY A CAR

One victim recounted to the Nation how she lost Sh28,000 to the fraudsters on Monday last week.

“A man called me at around 1 pm and told me that my child had been hit by a car. My child goes to Milimani Primary School and I live in Ayany, Kibera, so I assumed my child may have fallen sick in school and wanted to go home before the classes were over,” she said.

The “good Samaritan” kept calling to tell Mrs Mole that he was on his way to KNH with three other children who had been knocked down together with her son.

“The conmen called me using different numbers. Through the numbers, all of those who called told me that my child was bleeding profusely. I asked them if they could give the phone to my child so that I could talk to him, but they said his condition was getting worse,” he says.

“At some point, one of the callers told me that the child had fainted and I was shaken. By that time, I was at work and a taxi would take time. So when the conmen suggested that they should take the child to a nearby hospital, I thought it was a better option,” Mrs Mole said.

WANTED SH20,000

She said the conmen finally told her that they had taken him to KNH but there were no doctors and so they had to take him to a private doctor based at the KNH.

“They told me to find my way to Kenyatta but offered to help my child until I arrived. They said the doctor wanted Sh20,000 to stabilise my child. I withdrew money through mobile banking and sent the cash to the number they had given me,” she said.

The number – 0718005890 – was registered in the name of one Charles Muturi, who the conmen claimed was the doctor.

“I had tried severally to call the school but I think the conmen engaged my phone too much. I later realised that they were engaging my phone so that I could not get the chance to do my investigations,” she said, adding that she later sent another Sh6,000 to the same number, as she was on her way to the KNH.

When she arrived at the hospital, she called the “good Samaritan” who told her that the child was still at the accident/ emergency section.

She immediately rushed there, only for the receptionist to tell her that there had been several other similar cases. On trying to call the numbers that had engaged her phone for almost one-and-a-half hours, they were all off.

“The hospital staff even told me that there had been another parent earlier in the day who had been conned using similar tactics,” she said.

SON WAS FINE

She added: “When I relaxed, I called the school and they confirmed to me that my son was fine and in class. I asked the teacher to give him the phone and I spoke to him and he told me that he was fine.”

Mrs Mole reported the matter at KNH police station. Other parents who reported the same complaints at the same station include Susan Mbaru, Grace Limo and Patience Murithi among others.

Police officers investigating the matter told the Nation that the telephone numbers in question had been used severally over the past one month to con members of the public.

An officer attached to Kilimani’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations said some of the numbers had been registered with fake national identity cards and those belonging to people who had reported that their IDs had been lost.

“It becomes very hard to trace these people because they withdraw the money physically before discarding the sim cards,” Police Spokesman George Kinoti said.

He urged parents not to do things in haste when they are confronted by news that their children are in an accident or have fallen sick.

He said police were investigating how these conmen get the contacts of some of the parents, adding that they could be colluding with school staff or watchmen.

“It is safe to call the school, the police or any other person who can confirm the whereabouts of your child,” Mr Kinoti said.

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