Wednesday, 22 April 2020

FIRST LADY'S NAME USED IN EMPOWERMENT FUND SCAM


A CHEEKY Harare man allegedly duped several elderly people of amounts ranging between $400 and $600 whom he made to believe had qualified to access $10 500 from First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s empowerment fund.

The 50-year-old man collected the money as “administration fees”, which he said was a prerequisite to unlock funds from the non-existent fund.

Charles Muchineripi’s victims were mostly elderly women whom he made to deposit the money into an EcoCash account he supplied.
Investigations showed that the account was registered in the name of Kenneth Mark, who was not in any way linked to the criminal activities.

According to police investigations, Muchineripi reportedly asked for Mark’s identity document on the pretext he had secured a job for him at NSSA where his national registration card was required.

He then used the document to fraudulently register an Econet line before opening an EcoCash account.

Muchineripi appeared in court on Monday before magistrate Mrs Judith Taruvinga charged with fraud and the matter was rolled over to yesterday for bail ruling after prosecutor Mr Lawrence Gangarahwe strongly opposed it. 

His lawyer, Mr Dumisani Mthombeni, submitted that his client was of fixed abode hence was a suitable candidate for bail. He said Muchineripi was a farmer in Mazowe.

However, after hearing submissions from both parties, the court ruled in favour of the State and remanded Muchineripi in custody to May 5.

The court said it was not in the interest of justice to grant him bail.

“Courts will not grant bail when the release of an accused person will jeopardise the interests of justice. According to the State, the accused person provided three addresses and occupants at the first address said they did not know him. Investigations are still ongoing and it is premature to consider bail at this stage until all is verified,” she said.

The State alleged that between March and April 18 this year, Muchineripi fraudulently opened an EcoCash account in the name of Kenneth Mark.

He then manufactured a fake message and sent it to several victims after randomly picking phone numbers. 

The message suggested that the selected recipients had been nominated to receive $10 500 empowerment project funds from the First Family.

He then instructed the complainants to deposit varying amounts ranging between $400 to $600 which he said was an administration fee for processing the money.

Because of the misrepresentation, some of the victims complied and sent the said amounts of money to Muchineripi.

Muchineripi allegedly converted the money to his personal use and the police are still working with the mobile money service provider so that they get a print-out of the EcoCash transactions to establish the amounts and number of people duped. Herald

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