A joint team of security agencies have busted gang of fraudsters involved in scamming Ugandans through phone calls and among those arrested is a notorious criminal who has been at this game for 13 years.
Police on Monday announced that a joint security team from the Criminal Investigations Directorate, Crime Intelligence Directorate, Internal Security Organisation and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence had arrested Mike Mugarura, the mastermind of most phone scams in the country.
“He has been the prime suspect and mastermind behind the major phone scams in this country,” Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga told journalists on Monday.
The suspect used a network of phone contacts from official government websites and from telecom companies to be able to get vital information about his victims that by the time he called them, he knew so much information and the victims could easily give in.
“Together with his gang, they would obtain identifiable information by visiting a number of sources. They would visit websites for ministries, departments and agencies. They would get names, contacts and addresses from those websites that they would use to scam victims,” Enanga said.
According to investigations, the gang would target mostly the NSSF, immigration and police websites as well as social media and personal identifiable information from telephone subscriber networks like MTN, UTL and Airtel from where they would get vital information that they would use to call owners and scam them.
“They make calls using this information targeting government officials and other unsuspecting members of the public.”
The joint security investigation has indicated that Mugarura has been involved in a number of scams for 13 years since 2009 in which he would impersonate a number of top government officials without their knowledge.
Investigations have indicated that the suspect at one time impersonated President Museveni’s brother and coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation, Gen Salim Saleh, Internal Affairs Minister, Kahinda Otafiire, Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa, opposition strongman, Dr.Kizza Besigye, deceased BoU governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, NRM Vice chairperson Moses, Kigongo, former New Vision CEO, Robert Kabushenga, former Leader of Opposition, Prof. Ogenga Latigo and businessman, Patrick Bitature.
He also at one time also impersonated the son of deceased military officer and lawyer, Brig Noble Mayombo.
“He would call the victims by impersonating the named VIPs and telling them that he had jobs to offer. He would ask for money, air time or fuel from the victims so as to secure them jobs,” Enanga said.
Run out of luck
The police spokesperson said in the recent scam, the gang targeted police Forensics directorate officers who were promised offers for training abroad in the UK and South Africa.
“After going to the police website, he started calling a number of scenes of crime officers in the various districts and regions in the country and enticing them with opportunities for forensic courses in UK , US and South Africa,”Enanga.
In order to successfully carry out the scam, the group acquired a UTL line, number 0414673 797 and MTN line 0776318856 that they used to call the police officers.
However, lady luck was not on the gang’s side as this time round, police officers reported the matter; the group was tracked and later arrested.
Following the arrest, lists of past and potential victims were recovered from the group as well as several mobile phones used in the scam.
The group also had handwritten scripts that had elaborate details that they would rely on while talking to victims.
“Phone scamming is rampant and we want to warn the public that tactics used by scammers have been evolving with time. The public should be extremely cautious,” Enanga said.