By Anthony Ngatia
Lydia Chesang received a call from the ‘class teacher’ of her daughter who is in form three in a prominent public secondary school in the Rift Valley province informing her that her daughter is among those students just about to be sent home over fees balance.
But instead of going all the way to the school, the teacher told her to “send the balance over the mobile phone" Because a teacher is a respected person, and no parent could ignore their advice.
So, she scoured her pockets, borrowed from friends and got Sh5,000 the fees balance, which she sent quickly to the ‘class teacher’ to keep her child at school.
Unbeknown to the poor mother, she had yet become the latest victim of the newest form of fraud pitting parents and school children on one hand, against some crooks aided by mobile technology.
Usually, they impersonate the class teacher of your child or the head teacher — the two people who matter most at school with regard to your child.
“It’s really awkward that this is happening using the name of the people who are supposed to be most trusted by society,” says Francis Mwangi, a teacher.
“It’s the concern that parents have for their children at school and the trust they have for their teachers that is making the silent fraud to thrive.”
A number of parents and teachers in another school in the Rift Valley confessed to have been conned by the fraudsters. One parent is said to have lost Sh20,000 after sending what he thought was ‘school fees’ to his daughter’s bonafide class teacher last term.
He only realised later that something was wrong when his child was sent home because she had not paid her fees. His shock and disbelief took him to school to raise the matter with the school authorities. But he was shocked when the school informed him that it would never ask parents to send money over mobile phones.
“Some con men seem to be working with some school’s insiders on this,” says Francis, whose name has been used severally by conmen to solicit for money from parents.