Suave, moneyed and flamboyant life of the modern day fraud suspect
It appears to be the script followed by most people arrested on suspicion of obtaining millions of shillings by false pretences: Amass and display wealth, project yourself as close to those in power, harbour political ambitions, and give generously to charity.
Some of the suspects, the Sunday Nation and Nairobi News have also established, usually have past criminal cases.
An example is a man at the centre of a plot to secure the release two Iranian terror suspects from custody and smuggle them out of the country.
Wesley Kiptanui Kipkemoi was last week arrested alongside Ghanaian Shemgrant Agyei for allegedly attempting to defraud Iranian ambassador Hadi Farajvand of an unknown amount of money to secure the release of Sayed Mansour Mousavi and Ahamed Abolfathi Mohammed. The two are alleged to have introduced themselves to the envoy as senior Interior ministry officials in a position to secure the release of the suspects. The matter is in court.
It turns out Mr Kipkemoi is no stranger to controversy. In June 2017, Mr Kipkemoi was charged in a Mombasa court for impersonating an officer from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Mr Kipkemoi had been arrested at Maasai Hotel in Nyali for threatening and intimidating public officers with arrest before extorting money from them.
John Ngiro, an EACC officer, said during the arrest, the suspect was found in possession of several ATM cards whose transactions were the subject of investigations.
It later emerged Mr Kipkemoi had tricked several people both in Kenya and abroad by posing as a top EACC official.
Sources within security circles revealed Mr Kipkemoi is a well-connected former intelligence officer and has many questions hanging about his career.
Then there is Joseph Henry Waswa, one of the seven men recently arrested on suspicion of conning Sameer Africa chairman Naushad Merali of Sh10 million by imitating President Uhuru Kenyatta’s voice in calls made to their victim.
Mr Waswa has been living the life. When he headed to Kitui County in December 2018 to pay dowry, he did it in the grandest of ways; with choppers forming part of the entourage. There were also four MPs at the function, among them Embakasi East lawmaker Babu Owino and the area MP Charles Nguna.
This echoed the grand ruracio (traditional engagement party) of August 2015 by Mr Jared Otieno, another man currently facing trial for obtaining millions of shillings through what prosecutors say was lying to various foreigners that he could sell and deliver gold.
Mr Otieno caused a stir with his motorcade of top-of-range cars when he went to pay dowry at the home of his fiancée in Meru, an event attended by the then governor Peter Munya among other celebrated personalities.
During Mr Otieno’s pre-wedding at his home in Homa Bay County, a number of top Nyanza politicians attended, much like in Mr Waswa’s event.
At the December function, Mr Waswa took photos with Mr Owino and others.
As the story spread about the Mr Waswa’s alleged role in the scheme that involved impersonating President Kenyatta, the Embakasi East MP last week said he was at the function on the invitation of the area MP.
But it was not the first time Mr Waswa was in the news. In 2014, university student Mitch Kibiti was shot dead at Club Etonia, an establishment Mr Waswa owned.
Mr Waswa was later charged with murdering Mitch, in a case that saw presiding judge Abida Ali-Aroni recuse herself in November 2016 on grounds of “interference”. A year before the judge quit the case, 11 people were arrested at the Bumgoma Law Courts after creating a scene. They had arrived in three vehicles and were attempting to storm the court in support on Mr Waswa, who was attending a hearing at that time.
That aside, Mr Waswa has also shown his charitable side. In July 2016, he forked out Sh300,000 to secure the bail of Saleh Wanjala — the Bungoma man who shocked many by hanging on a helicopter as it took off.
Mr Waswa was among the people who funded a proper flight to Nairobi for “James Bond” and his family, where a luncheon was organised for them.
“We have an allocation of between Sh300,000 and Sh500,000, which we are willing to give him to run his business. He only needs to convince us that he knows what he wants to do,” Mr Waswa told the Nation then.
Also present at that luncheon was William Simiyu, one of Mr Waswa’s co-accused. He introduced himself to journalists as the CEO of the Joseph Leondrix Foundation.
Another of their co-accused is Isaac Wanjekeche, a journalist who has in the past years been contributing to a local publication in Bungoma.
A journalist in Bungoma told the Sunday Nation that Mr Wanjekeche has been introducing himself as the private secretary of Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.
“He often calls press conferences on behalf of Mr Wamalwa and when we reach there, we always find the CS,” said the journalist.
Indeed, on a Facebook page associated with Mr Wanjekeche, there is one photo of him posing with Mr Wamalwa. The biggest photo on his profile, called a cover photo in Facebook lingo , depicts him talking with President Kenyatta.
It is not yet clear Mr Wanjekeche used his closeness with the Cabinet Secretary to further the plan that led to their arrest, but closeness to the powers-that-be is a common thread in the stories of those who have been accused of fraudulently obtaining money.
One of the most jaw-dropping examples is that of Fredrick Muhanji Mangala, the man who police accuse of taking part in a scheme that saw many people conned of their money through fake tenders.
To make the scheme convincing, investigators told a court in Kiambu the would-be victims were called to meetings at offices at Deputy President William Ruto’s Harambee House Annexe and even at State House. They were later conned of millions by delivering goods that were later diverted elsewhere.
There is also the case of four individuals who supposedly forged President Kenyatta’s signature to allegedly con Ms Shailesh Kanani of Hot Point Appliances.
Mr Reuben Wasike Situma, Mr Ismail Ibrahim, Mr Keith Lee Henney Bockle and Mr Stephen Kimani were charged in a Nairobi court in January 2016.
Prosecutors said they presented the letter to Mr Kanani claiming the President’s private secretary Jomo Gecaga, had written it inviting him to State House to offer his company a tender.
The four then demanded a Sh15 million bribe before the said State House appointment.
Speaking of tenders, 31-year-old Allan Chesang is one of the individuals being sought for masterminding a deal though the Deputy President’s office.
Mr Chesang has been walking a free man despite a warrant of arrest being issued against him two weeks ago for skipping court proceedings.
The warrant was addressed to the OCS Parliament Police Station where a directive to produce him in court was issued.
Mr Chesang, a politician and businessman associated with a club on Nairobi’s Mombasa Road, is a suspect in a scandal detectives allege was planned and executed at the heart of the office of the Deputy President.
In the deal, Mr Stephen Ngei Musyoka, the manager Makindu Motors, was tricked into delivering 2,800 laptops to the office of the DP after being issued with a fake purchase order document referenced as ODP/SUPLS/0451-404/2018-2019.
Mr Musyoka said the deal saw him lose Sh181 million and that a loan he took from a local bank goes on accumulating.
According to him, three months before he was handed the deal, he was a visitor at Harambee House where he was well received and a deal struck in office number B3-005.
“You could not tell they were in any way tricking me as they ushered me into a VIP lift and finally in a well maintained office with a red carpet,” he told the Sunday Nation.
According to documents filed in court, it is inside that office that he met Ms Joy Wangari Kamau who introduced herself as the head of procurement at the office of the Deputy President.
“They even handed me documents that appeared to be original and had the official logo of the DP’s office. This made me believe that I was dealing with genuine people,” he said.
What convinced him even further was when he could receive an e-mail from DP’s office that was sent through the email, firstname.lastname@example.org, that gave him a go ahead to deliver the laptops.
The first slot of 145 laptops was delivered and received at Treasury Building and were received by one Christian Mwendwa.
The other three slots of 500, 597 and 823 laptops were received by Mr Chesang from three different locations on diverse dates in July 2018.
He also collected the last batch of 735 laptops on August 2, 2018.
A raid in search of the laptops was conducted by the police on August 13 at his Loresho home.
The police found more than 600 laptops in his house.
The police also found high-end cars parked in his residence fitted with stickers from the office of the DP and stickers reserved for MPs. In 2017 Mr Chesang ran for the Kwanza parliamentary seat but lost.
He runs a well-designed website where he identifies himself as a “prolific and a savvy businessman who values Strategic Investment and diversification of business portfolio.”
Well, describing oneself as “businessman” appears to be the biggest thread linking the people, the State accuses of conning others.