Over 500 suspected fraudsters, among them prominent politicians and business people, are being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department’s serious fraud squad, it has been established. Police say the majority of the suspected criminals are using fake identity documents to dupe unsuspecting targets and often relocate, sometimes across the border, to avoid detection.
Deputy Officer Commanding Serious Fraud Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi told The Sunday Mail last week that police have set up crack teams operating at the Registrar-General’s offices to detect suspected fraudsters seeking to change their identity particulars and bring them to book.
“These fraudsters comprise of influential business people, politicians, managers, foreign nationals and petty habitual fraudsters,” said Chief Supt Magwenzi.
“We have over 500 suspected fraudsters on our wanted list dotted all over the country.
“We suspect that a number of them have fled the country as they operate differently from hard-core criminals such as armed robbers.
“We have since deployed police units at all the Registrar General’s offices countrywide to nab these fraudsters as they have a tendency of continuously changing their identity documents from time to time.”
He said the most common fraudsters were pouncing on desperate home seekers through bogus housing co-operatives and pocketing millions of dollars in the process.
“Some of the major cases that we are dealing with involve foreign nationals who use locals as fronts to secure mining claims, especially in gold.
“In some of the cases locals, who partner with these foreign nationals in bogus mining deals, are later elbowed out of the partnerships. We also have another group that pretends to be owners of a mining house in need of certain mining equipment such as rods.
“They then advertise in the Press that the mining equipment is found in South Africa and ask potential targets to deposit money into the equipment suppliers’ bank account. In most cases the purported supplier does not exist.
“We also understand that fraudsters operating in the housing sector usually monitor vacant homes mainly in the low-density areas before approaching the Deeds Office inquiring about the owner of the vacant home.
“After securing the information they then immediately place an advertisement in the Press saying the house is on sale.
“They later sell the house using fake title deeds and a power of attorney to several individuals within a period of one week before relocating to another town or city,” he added.
Chief Supt Magwenzi added that some of the fraudsters pounce on tobacco farmers by offering to transport their tobacco to the auction floors before disappearing with the tobacco.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing a surge in fraud ever since the introduction of the multi-currency system.
Last month, police arrested Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited company secretary Grace Nyaradzo Pfumbidzayi on six counts of fraud and one of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer for allegedly swindling the airline of more than €5 895 695 and US$1 298 827.
Police later on picked the airline’s chief executive, Innocent Mavhunga, and his predecessor, Peter Chikumba, after they were implicated by Pfumbidzayi.
Their case is still before the courts.
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