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How Merali lost Sh10 million to conmen who mimicked Uhuru's voice

Tuesday February 26 2019

Suspects who conned Naushad Merali

Three of the seven suspects alleged to have conned Sameer Africa chairman Naushad Merali out of Sh10 million by mimicking President Uhuru Kenyatta's voice and pretending to sell land. PHOTO | RICHARD MUNGUTI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RICHARD MUNGUTI
By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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Police are seeking to detain for 10 days, seven men who allegedly conned a Sameer Africa boss out of Sh10 million by pretending to be President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The seven taken to court on Monday were Joseph Waswa, Duncan Muchai, Isaac Wajekeche, William Simiyu, David Luganya, Gilbert Kirunja and Anthony Wafula.

It is alleged that they used mobile number 0722 208842 to call Sameer Africa chairman Naushad Merali, asking him to facilitate the release of the money for the purchase of land, while mimicking the voice of the President.

They pretended the call was from State House in Nairobi.

WHAT HAPPENED

According to police, Mr Merali was outside the country on a business trip when the fraudsters called him.

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He therefore gave complainant Akif Hamid Butt, the Finance Director of Sameer Africa, the go-ahead to process the payment, believing he had spoken to the head of State.

Mr Butt was told that the money was for the purchase of land in Milimani, Nairobi, and the fraudsters gave him the number of an account at Equity Bank, into which he deposited it.

A supporting affidavit by Corporal James Mwangi, who is based at the DCI Headquarters, says police are looking investigating forgery, conspiracy to commit to commit fraud and obtaining money by false pretences.

“The complainant was contacted by fraudsters using several telephone numbers purportedly from President Uhuru Kenyatta. The complainant realised he had been dealing with fraudsters after he had lost his Sh10 million," the court heard.

THE PROBE

Police want the seven suspects held at Muthaiga Police Station for 10 days so they finish the probe.

While applying for their detention, the prosecution noted that this period would be reasonable.

The affidavit stated that "the nature of investigations is complex since it requires communication data from several service providers, which requires time. [Time is required] to establish the details of the bank account ... and the signatories."

“Due to the complexity of the investigations and the number of suspects involved, including some who are still at large, it is expected that the investigation will involve going through voluminous documents including bank documents and call data records analysis,” it stated.

THE ARRESTS

Police arrested the suspects on February 22 and 23 and will probe a crime believed to involved fraudulent misrepresentation, millions of shillings and senior State House officials.

During the operation, police seized four vehicles including a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Toyota Mark X , a Toyota Axio and a Toyota Crown.

The investigation will establish whether the vehicles are linked to the crime.

The court was told it was likely the suspects would carry on with their criminal activities if released and interfere with potential witnesses and documentary evidence yet to be obtained.

Senior Principal Magistrate Peter Ooko remanded the seven to Muthaiga until Tuesday, when the ruling on their detention period will be made.