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Man's 12 Years of Conning Public Servants Finally End with Arrest :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Man's 12 Years of Conning Public Servants Finally End with Arrest

So far, four suspected members of Mugarura’s group have been arrested. These are Moses Eletu, Demick Rwothomia, Patrick Mwebembezi and Arim. Senior Commissioner of Police, Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson said the five are being charged with 4 counts of personation contrary to section 381 of the Penal Code Act, counts of obtaining money by false pretense contrary to section 305 of the Penal Code Act and conspiracy to defraud contrary to section 309 of the Penal Code Act.
SCP Fred Enanga displaying Mike Mugarura picture

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Mike Mugarura, who is accused of ‘commanding’ a group of people who have been conning civil servants and other unsuspecting members of the public with job, promotion and overseas study opportunities for the last 12 years, has been arrested in clandestine joint security hunt.

About three weeks ago, Mugarura allegedly conned a number of civil servants with overseas study opportunities and security agencies decided to join hands in order to put an end to his scams in which an unspecified number of people have lost huge amounts of money.

The suspect, according to security would use landlines like 0414673797 or Mobile telephone lines like 0776-318856 to call his victims claiming to be working with ministries or a state house committee tasked to search for people to be promoted or get opportunities for further studies.

In other instances, Mugarura and his accomplices would masquerade as administrators in the offices of Commissioner General of Prisons, Vision Group, Bank of Uganda, Leader of Opposition or business companies owned by moguls like Patrick Bitature.

Before convincing people to send him money, Mugarura would sometimes ask the victims to present their documents. He would send his accomplices to collect such documents mostly outside and rarely inside the premises, something that could make their victims think they were dealing with genuine people.

Afterwards, the group would tell people that the available opportunities were very competitive and they needed to send some money in order to stand a better chance. That is how many people ended up becoming victims.

Building on the numerous outcries, cyber units from Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Internal Security Organisation, Crime Intelligence and Criminal Investigations Directorate decided to review all the phone calls that had been made to civil servants and other members of the public.

The cyber team collected all the spots where these calls were being made from. Days after a hunt for the group had been launched, Mugarura himself made calls to forensic and scene of crime officers with opportunities to study in UK, South Africa and US.

But since military and police cyber teams had already spotted areas where the phone calls were being made from, covert operatives were swiftly deployed and he was arrested. Security has not revealed the exact place where Mugarura was picked since they are still hunting for all his accomplices.

So far, four suspected members of Mugarura’s group have been arrested. These are Moses Eletu, Demick Rwothomia, Patrick Mwebembezi and Arim. Senior Commissioner of Police Fred Enanga, said the five are being charged with 4 counts of personation contrary to section 381 of the Penal Code Act, counts of obtaining money by false pretense contrary to section 305 of the Penal Code Act and conspiracy to defraud contrary to section 309 of the Penal Code Act.

“They would obtain personally identifiable information obtained from a number of sources including websites of MDAs, like immigration foreigners with deportation; URA for tax-related scams, NSSF for scams on benefits, UCC with threats of sim card de-registration and other mobile telephone networks, lawyers threatening legal action etc. As part of the scam victims were convinced to part with money,” Enanga explains.

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Mugarura’s activeness, according to security increased during the two Covid-19 lockdowns where people were operating from home. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) communication officer, Rebecca Mukite, explains that some of the vulnerabilities that have enabled the growth in fraud include personal weakness where someone has not been part of any competition but then go ahead to accept stories of ‘you have won this and that’.

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Mukite further highlighted the loopholes being explored like unverified numbers where active numbers are registered using wrong credentials. She encouraged the public to verify the numbers registered using their national ID credentials.

“Report to the police immediately when your phone is stolen,"  Mukite said. "This will enable you to get a police report that you can use to block the line. Unblocked sim cards from stolen phones increase vulnerability.”