Revealed: Top State officers in dirty, fake money racket
SEE ALSO :New team to review law on dirty money“After seducing their victims, they send consignments and even have clearing agents call you to inform you a gift has arrived. This is where the game begins, for after being shown the consignment, the prey is informed that they need to pay the insurance,” Mr Odero says. Once the insurance is paid, the real extortion starts, as a fake United Nations ‘technician’ is sent to inspect the consignment and sample whether the currency notes are intact. In the course of sampling, the technician will douse a small bunch of notes with chemicals “to remove UN rubber stamps on the notes,” and later offer the dollars to the unsuspecting beneficiary of the ‘windfall.’ Unknown to the prey, the fake technician will go to a bank and purchase genuine dollar notes and then pretend that they came from the consignment. Having convinced the victim, the fraudsters then say they need SSD chemical gas so that they can erase the stamp. According to www.quora.com, an SSD solution chemical is a special type of homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances, which is mostly used for an extraction process. According to the website, the price for a litre of US standard “A” grade SSD solution chemical is approximately $15,000 (Sh1.5 million) and can clean up to 4,000 pieces of $100 notes or $400,000 (Sh40 million). In Kenya’s black market, the racketeers tell their victims that a cylinder of SSD chemical costs about Sh2.5 million. Once the victim produces the amount, the cons will just go to a store and buy a three-kilo fire extinguisher cylinder, which ordinarily costs Sh3,000. Fake chemical Investigations show that once they buy the fire extinguisher, they then erase its inscriptions and paste stickers to present them as SSD solution chemical. For effect, there is even a picture of a machine cleaning money on the sticker and instructions on how this valuable substance is supposed to be applied. So, to clean a consignment of $600 million (Sh60 billion), the racketeers tell their victim to purchase 10 cylinders of the disguised fire extinguisher at a cost of Sh25 million. “The moment you pay, they deliver the gas, which they purport has been obtained from the UN and then summon experts from the US or South Africa to come and clean the money,” says Odero. We have established that there are printers in Luthuli, Khoja and Kirinyaga roads, whose specialty is bulk printing of counterfeit currency. Sources privy to the ongoing investigations say the cartel uses rented houses to print the money. The houses are equipped with the printers, and have supplies of vitamin C, iodine liquid, paper cutting machines and rims of white papers. “They get international investors in the name of starting a project in areas such as Turkana. The moment an investor lands on a tourist visa, they are invited for a meeting at a bank, where one of the cons has an account and safe deposit box,” revealed a source. In the privacy of the bank’s secluded safety deposit box rooms, the investor feels secure after the “business partner” gets a box from the safe containing money and gold allegedly paid by some of the investors in the deal. Some of the deals are done in five-star hotels. The investor is told how his money will multiply within a short period of time and given samples to go and change in a forex bureau of his choice or within the bank, after making a small payment. Our sources say the scammers charge Sh60,000 to make counterfeits of Sh20 million, while printing fake $100 million attracts a fee of between Sh500,000 and Sh1 million. This is the money the racketeers have to invest before they approach gullible “investors” to con. Meanwhile, the scammers who deal in gold target clients mostly outside Kenya, who are fleeced millions in the form of insurance and bank charges, and are then directed to deposit millions into accounts which are mostly in Turkey. Cheap Chinese padlocks The international clients are fleeced as much as Sh50 million for documentation and other related charges for consignments they are told is worth $150 million, which later turn out to be gold-coated, cheap Chinese padlocks that have been crashed. While the big boys are dealing at the international and national arena, minting millions for two chief inspectors of police who are the godfathers of counterfeit syndicate, the small-timers have migrated from their base in downtown Nairobi to residential estates. A few weeks ago, a woman lost Sh15 million after she was lured into the trade by con men who baited her with Sh1 million they had allegedly washed for her. The woman who declined to be named, says she had to sell her lorry and take a bank loan to raise the Sh15 million demanded by the cons. At Ngara estate in Nairobi, there is an unwritten rule among shopkeepers at Ministry of Housing estate to never accept big denomination notes from customers from the neighbourinmg Railway quarters, which is infamous counterfeit money. In Buruburu, all matatus have special flourescent lights which are meant to detect fake currency by crew who say they have in the past lost a lot of money. The counterfeiters - Kenyans who team up with West Africans, especially Nigerians - have pitched camp in Parklands, Kilimani, Lavington and Eastleigh. Some of the money printed by the cartels is smuggled to refugee camps, South Sudan and Somalia, where people trade in US dollars. Police say some of the counterfeit currency is used to finance criminal activities, such as money laundering businesses and terrorism.