City on alert after arrest of conman

The police has warned the public against a suspected racket of fraudsters, urging for more vigilance.
Police Spokesman Sup.Theos Badege examines the recovered laptops.  The New Times / J. Mbanda
Police Spokesman Sup.Theos Badege examines the recovered laptops. The New Times / J. Mbanda

The police has warned the public against a suspected racket of fraudsters, urging for more vigilance.

The call came after they arrested a suspected serial fraudster yesterday, with 11 laptops worth Rwf9.7m, stolen from an Indian businessman using a forged cheque.

Three of the laptops had already been sold by the time of arrest.

According to Police Spokesperson, Supt. Theos Badege, they acted on a tip-off that a certain man in Remera-Giporoso area, residing in a guesthouse, had many computers which he was selling at a giveaway price.

“After getting the information, we swung into action to verify and indeed we went to the hotel and found 11 laptops with the suspect, Jean Remy Shema.

“After questioning him, he said he had bought the laptops for re-sell but we later discovered that we had another case involving the same person, so we had to arrest him,” Badege said.

He added that after arresting the suspect, Remera police consulted with their Nyarugenge counterparts and found that an Indian businessman, Chetan Dodia, had reported the case to the police after the cheque he was given had been found to be forged.

It turned out that the same suspect had issued a forged cheque to another Indian businessman dealing in car tires, defrauding him of 52 car tyres worth Rwf 12 million.

“What these people do is they get normal cheques and reprint new account numbers and then fill them properly and, thereafter, put two stamps, one from the bank certifying the account and the other from the company,” said Badege.

“The cheques look original that any business will not suspect any wrongdoing”.

The New Times saw the Bank of Kigali (BK) cheque which Shema and his accomplices, who are still at large, had reprinted and certified..

Badege said the fraudsters who are suspected to be part of a big racket, operate in sophisticated ways to evade arrest, and once they secure the goods, they move swiftly that by the time the business owner cashes in the cheque, they have already vanished.

“Once they finish the deal, they discard the sim cards used in the process and disappear. Sometimes they go out of the country to avoid arrest. They go to Uganda and Burundi in most cases,”

“This time he said he was not going to be involved in fraud again. He said he wanted to go to China and he indeed has several visas in his passport, including one to China,” Badege said of the conman he described as “young, smart and decent looking.”

Shema is also suspected to have been part of the racket that defrauded Sonatube, a local company, of Rwf 19 million worth of spare parts as well as fuel from Kobil Petrol worth Rwf15m.

Some members of the group have since been arrested, while some cases are still pending.

They are organised. They travel a lot. Once you arrest one, he/she tips off the others and ensures that they don’t get arrested. After sometime, they come back to resume their acts,” the police spokesman said.

“They are very dangerous and difficult to detect, they can’t reveal who manufacturers stamps or reprints cheques,” Badege said.

“He came to me on Friday 23 after we had agreed on the phone. He brought the Proforma invoice the next day and then gave me the certified cheque which, to me, looked genuine and took the laptops,” Chetan Dodia, owner of Maruti Computers and General Supply Limited, told The New Times.

“Since it was around Christmas time, I decided to wait until Tuesday to go to the bank, and that’s when it dawned on me that the cheque was a fake. They had played around with the account numbers and duplicated the stamps”.

The businessman commended the Police for acting swiftly to recover the stolen property as well as BK for helping him through the process.

“We are very thankful to the Rwandan Police, they did their best and whatever was possible to recover my computers,” Dodia said.

edmund.kagire@newtimes.corw

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