With a light touch: Police expose Ponzi scheme that has been running for 60 years
Monday, June 7th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Detectives have uncovered what they say is the biggest and longest running Ponzi scheme in the country.
The scam, which has seen millions of Kenyans lose trillions of shillings, is so widespread and deep-seated that it may take decades or even a century to eradicate.
An impeachable source said the fraudsters were planning one of the biggest con jobs next year and Kenyans will once again be left high and dry – and whining.
According to the Directorate of Civic Investigations (DCI), the con game started six decades ago and has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since.
Every five years, the detectives say, the scammers pull off the biggest job and laugh all the way to the bank while the victims cry foul and vow to be smarter next time only to fall for the same tricks again and again.
“It is a well-organised scheme that has ensnared even some of the best educated and enlightened people.
It remains a mystery why these people keep falling for the same tricks. For them, once bitten, twice willing,” said senior detective, Petero Kiwanja.
Kiwanja said the swindlers take advantage of their victims’ weaknesses, vulnerabilities and fears to win their trust then rob them blind.
Most of them use drugs and other substances to send their would-be victims to sleep or confused and then take advantage of them.
“The most common drug they use is called tribalism. Ni mchele mbaya sana. It has been proven to be effective and sells like hot cakes during the scamming season,” said the detective.
Kiwanja also said besides being very effective, the drug is highly addictive and takes years or even a lifetime for the effects to wear off.
The addiction, he said, makes it easy for the tricksters to steal from their victims repeatedly without having to administer new doses of the drug.
Another detective, Hema Wanyora, said the fraudsters are equally good at playing with their victims’ minds using persuasive language, heady slogans and songs. They also promise to deliver heaven.
“Because most of the victims are living in hell, which ironically was created by the same characters, they are ready to clutch at any straws that promise to deliver them out of their suffering,” said Wanyora.
She said the scammers’ intention is to ensure their victims remain in hell forever, because that would make it easier to manipulate them.
Detective said the fraudsters also use fear and threats to force their victims to play ball.
“They appeal to the people’s fears. They know what they fear most and use that to make them do their bidding. In some cases, they use real threats,” said Wanyora.
And like all good pyramid schemes, the scammers initially bait their victims with some little money and a handful of goodies.
“They throw some crumbs at the people to convince them that there is more of it where the little came from and as soon as they get into to the trap, they close it,” said Wanyora.
Wanyora further said that the pyramid scheme artists only let a few chosen individuals to make good money and then use them to persuade the masses to fall for the scam.
And just like other fraudsters, the big scammers know that religion works like magic in convincing their would-be victims that they are genuine in their pledges to deliver heaven.
Kwenda Upange, who has been investigating the activities of the fraudsters for years, said they often masquerade as preachers or prophets and claim they talk directly to God.
“Often, they peddle tales of miracles, promising to turn sand into water, make smooth roads suddenly appear in vast wildernesses or banish darkness forever,” said Upange. – [email protected]