Detectives seize fake gold from Uganda at Jomo Kenyatta airport

Fake gold bars in 31 boxes were seized from Swissport transit freight station strong room at JKIA, Nairobi at the weekend. PHOTO/NMG

What you need to know:

  • The Directorate of Criminal Investigations says, the fraudsters are now changing tactic and have devised “a seemingly smart way of luring investors to airports to be shown the gold”.

Detectives have seized a consignment of fake gold bars which had been stored in a strong room belonging to Swissport transit freight station at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the Kenyan Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has said.

The fake gold had been concealed in 31 boxes, the DCI said yesterday morning.

The DCI revealed that the fake bars had been delivered from Uganda by shadowy businessmen dealing in the lucrative gold business and stored at the airport on the pretext that it was cargo awaiting transit to different destinations across the world.

According to the DCI, the bogus traders settled on Swissport freight since it provides ground and cargo handling services in major airports across the world. They also sought to avoid detection by detectives.

Businessmen from across the world have been losing a lot of money to fraudsters pretending to sell gold.

The DCI said the swindlers have been luring unsuspecting investors to view the gold at the customs offices at JKIA.

“Once at the airport, a prospective buyer is lured to Swissport’s strong room, where what appears to be genuine gold bars are displayed. The client is advised that once the transaction is completed, the gold will be shipped to any destination of his choice across the globe,” said the DCI.

“However, immediately the buyer is convinced that the transaction is above board and makes payments, including customs and shipping costs, that marks the beginning of his tribulations.”

In May 2019, detectives raided a house in Kileleshwa where fake gold bars were suspected to have been stored and arrested 15 people, among them three women.

Also seized during that raid were eight cars which included a Subaru, Mercedes Benz and a Toyota Land Cruiser. And in January last year, a Japanese businessman sued a Kenyan lawyer, accusing him of working with local dealers to defraud him of Sh79.2m in a fake gold scheme.

Asano Tatsunori, a resident of Tokyo, accused lawyer Joel Kimutai Bosek, whom he retained in the gold trade, of professional negligence.

Tatsunori and his World Gateway Japan Company Limited had agreed to buy gold from a Kenyan firm — Customs Cargo Handlers in 2017.

The Japanese businessman accuses Mr Bosek of colluding with the local gold dealers whom he was also acting for “to defraud him $722,080 (KSh72.08m) in the fake gold racket.”

In March 2019, police stumbled on what appeared to be an international syndicate that duped people into buying fake gold and currency. 

The officers were investigating KSh2b worth of counterfeit dollars which had been found at a branch belonging to Barclays Bank of Kenya.

While doing the investigations, the officers discovered fake gold thought to belong to the main suspect in the matter.

After storming the bank, the discovered dozens of fake gold deposits which had been shown to many unsuspecting traders who had fallen victim to the scheme.

Warning 

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations says, the fraudsters are now changing tactic and have devised “a seemingly smart way of luring investors to airports to be shown the gold”.

“The Directorate of Criminal Investigations is cautioning anyone within or outside the country intending to venture in gold business, to be on the lookout not to fall prey to these amoebic fraudsters who keep changing tactics and mode of operation. When the deal looks too good, think twice and where necessary, kindly confirm the authenticity of the gold deposits with relevant government agencies and more so the DCI, [which] has come to the aid of so many victims,” the DCI tweeted Sunday.

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