Buganda Road Magistrates Court has remanded four suspects including a student at Kololo Secondary School on charges related to conspiracy to defraud unsuspecting security officers. The suspects are Derrick Rwothomio, a student at Kololo Secondary School, Mike Mugarura, a resident of Kyanja Kensington Nakawa Division, Kampala district, Patrick Mwebembezi, Rifad Arim, and Moses Eletu, all residents of Kyebando Kisalosalo in Kawempe Division, Kampala City.
The suspects appeared on Friday afternoon before Buganda Road Grade One Magistrate Asuman Muhumuza who charged them with conspiracy. The court also read six other offenses of impersonation against Mugarura.
Court heard that on July 31st, 2022, Mugarura who is the prime suspect in this matter disguised himself as Tom Magambo, the Director of Criminal Investigations in the Uganda Police Force, and informed Detective Corporal David Waidhuba and Assistant Inspector of Police-AIP Aidha Naigaga using a landline phone that they had been nominated to attend a two months training in the United States of America-USA and requested for their NIN number, card number, dates of birth and passport numbers.
It is alleged that on the same day, Mugarura also rang Assistant Superintendent of Police-ASP Teddy Atyeko and informed her that she had been selected for a Scene of Crimes Officer Training in the United Kingdom and requested her particulars as well.
Court further heard that Mugarura called Sergent Joshua Jagule on Aug 2, 2022, and requested the contact of the Officer in Charge CID Kireka. He also asked Detective Inspector of Police Nathan Balabyeki to inform Kira Divisional Scenes of Crime Officer to immediately get in touch with him (self-styled Magambo).
According to the prosecutors led by Patricia Cingtho, Mugarura did all this while impersonating Magambo to defraud his victims. He allegedly also falsely presented himself to be a Major of the UPDF attached to the fisheries department under the Ministry of Agriculture and defrauded Tom Odongo with promises of helping him to process a passport for travel to South Africa for a course in fish management courtesy of the Uganda Mission in South Africa.
Court jointly charged the accused with conspiring to defraud Waidhuba of Shillings 490,000 for renewing his passport ahead of the bogus training and Shillings 260,000 from Odongo. The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges and the court remanded them to Luzira prison until August 23rd, 2022 when State Attorney Patricia Cingtho informed court that investigations are still ongoing.
On August 15th, 2022, Uganda Police Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga told Uganda Radio Network that the arrests of Mugarura the prime suspect followed investigations into more than 54 incidents of fraud since 2009. Notably among them, Enanga said was his impersonation of Gen. Salim Saleh, Retired Major Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, Retired Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye, Professor Ogenga Latigo, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, Commissioner General of Prisons, the late BOU Governor Mutebile, former Minister Sam Kutesa, Business Mogul Patrick Bitature, Al Hajji Moses Kigongo, Robert Kabushenga(former CEO Vision Group), Brig. Mayombo’s son, and many other VIPs.
According to Enanga, in the most recent phone scam, the accused targeted forensic officers in districts and regions whom they duped that they had been selected for some training abroad whereas not. “As part of the scheme, the scammers utilized a network of call centers to call potential victims within the country. 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 among others,” said Enanga.