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Brian Mwenda. Waiganjo and others who almost got away with it

News
 A collage of Brian Mwenda, Joshua Waiganjo and Mugo wa Wairimu.

Last week, the internet was awash with stories of one Brian Mwenda who allegedly impersonated a bonafide city advocate and used his credentials to practise law.

Mwenda is said to have accessed the advocate's account, changed the profile picture, and applied for a practising certificate, ultimately becoming a registered advocate under the name Brian N Mwenda.

Videos of him confidently arguing cases circulated online, sparking various reactions from viewers. Notably, Mwenda represented an accused person during Mungiki leader Maina Njenga's hearing in Makadara.

However, Ntwiga's attempt to access his own account revealed discrepancies, leading to an investigation. Mwenda is currently facing identity theft charges, with the Law Society of Kenya President, Eric Theuri, identifying the fraud as a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scheme.

Mwenda is not the only one to practice a profession without proper credentials. In 2014, James Mugo Ndichu, known as "Dr. Mugo Wairimu," operated as a fake doctor without any medical training. He opened an illegal clinic in Githurai, but he was eventually arrested for rape and operating an unregistered drug shop.

After being released on bond, Mugo resurfaced in 2018 under a new identity, operating another illegal clinic in Kayole, Nairobi. He faced multiple charges and was sentenced to 11 years in prison, along with a substantial fine for unlawful medical practice.

 Mugo wa Wairimu. [File, Standard]

Elsewhere, Joshua Waiganjo impersonated a police officer for about a decade, even promoting himself to an assistant commissioner of police. His activities included hiring and recruiting officers in Rift Valley.

Waiganjo's masquerade ended when he was caught flying in a police helicopter while investigating a massacre. He faced charges of impersonation, wearing a police uniform, and possessing government property but was acquitted in 2020 due to insufficient evidence.

 Joshua Waiganjo [File, Standard]

Impersonation is not limited to Kenya; it happens worldwide.

Sarah Edmonds, born in 1841 in New Brunswick, Canada, made a courageous escape from her home as a teenager to avoid a forced marriage. She found refuge in the United States and assumed the identity of a man named Franklin Thompson to secure employment.

Edmonds worked as a travelling book salesman in Michigan when the Civil War erupted, prompting her decision to enlist in the military. Her disguise was further cemented by the baggy uniforms provided to soldiers, and the fact that troops typically slept in their uniforms, making it difficult to discern her true gender.

She actively participated in multiple battles, including First Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg, serving both as a field nurse and a mail carrier. Unfortunately, Edmonds contracted malaria and, to avoid the risk of being exposed, she left her brigade and sought treatment at a military hospital.

Prior to her passing in 1898, Sarah Edmonds achieved the historic distinction of becoming the first woman admitted to the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization for Civil War veterans.

 Sarah Edmonds

Still in the US, one Fred Brito defied all odds in a bid to satisfy his fantasies, phoney names, fake resumes, and fake titles, Brito fooled everyone in his way.

In previous interviews, Brito narrated how he desired to get rich quickly and how interacting with Hollywood stars made him live life on the fast lane.

He later got into debt and after stints in jail, he decided to get his life back on track. He applied for jobs but his felony history made it difficult for him to secure employment.

This, according to him, made him create multiple aliases as he applied for top jobs. Surprisingly, he got calls for interviews and bagged some prestigious roles.

He said his technique was RSVP - Research, Study, Visualise and Practice. He practised as a lawyer, catholic priest, NGO coordinator and child psychologist.

At one point he even worked as a music conductor, having spent 14 days mastering the art. The performance was near-perfect and he was even praised by those in attendance.

Brito's joy was, however, short-lived after one of his colleagues in an organisation he worked for reported him and he was arrested.

After serving jail time, he was released in 2004 and started working as a consultant, teaching companies how to spot fake papers.

 Fred Brito

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