Exposed! How Over 1,500 Ugandans lost UGX 10b In 3 Months To Online Scammers Dealing In Cryptocurrencies

Exposed! How Over 1,500 Ugandans lost UGX 10b In 3 Months To Online Scammers Dealing In Cryptocurrencies

By Uganda Online Media

Kampala: Close to 1,500 Ugandans across the country have lost about Shs10 billion over the past three months to online fraudsters masquerading as associates to Bridge Water Stocks, a United States-based virtual company dealing in cryptocurrencies.

According to an investigation carried out by Daily Monitor, the scammers allegedly led by one Bryan Musheruzi, targeted top civil servants, senior army and police officers, businessmen, and students from various universities, whom they promised huge interests on their investments.

According to investigations, the fraudsters are said to have hosted meetings in top hotels in Mbale, Tororo, Gulu, Kabale, Mbarara, and Kampala, where they lured their unsuspecting victims after treating them to sumptuous meals and drinks.

The group reportedly told the victims that they were attached to the Bridge Waterstocks and encouraged them to make investments while being promised huge daily interests of $1.2 percent (Shs4450) for each deposit they made.

Dr. Ayebare Kule, who works at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, at the weekend, said he was last September encouraged to join the online business by a friend in Tororo Town and invested $12000 (about Shs39m) in the venture after selling some of his property.

Dr. Ayebare added that he deposited the money on an Airtel number provided by the fraudsters, but shortly after, the system was switched off before he would make any profits and that is when it dawned on him that he had been fleeced.

According to Jerry Onomo, another victim of the scam, after the scammers had closed Bridge Waters, they created Meta Connect, where they claimed to be associates of Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of the Meta (formerly Facebook) which they later closed and created Green Monday Investments and Global Innovations as they covered up their online tracks.

“The business and profits they were promising were so attractive that we all accepted to be a part of this venture and that is why many of us had to sell our houses and land to get the money to invest,” Orono said.

Victims have lost millions of shillings in the scam with victims losing sums ranging from Shs3 million to Shs720 million.

A jinja-based victim said she lost Shs 18 million, her husband lost Shs 17m, four of her friends collectively lost Shs 73m, while one of her victims, who claims to be a student of Kyambogo University, said lost her tuition accounting to Shs 2m.

Police in Tororo has arrested Daniel Oppio Akanga and Hillary Mukisa, who are alleged accomplices to Musheruzi. The duo was at the weekend picked up at one of the fuel stations as they tried to get Shs45m from some members of the public.

The suspects were later paraded before Tororo chief magistrate Doreen Ajuna who granted them bail after they each provided the sureties.

As the victims sought justice, plain-clothed men with army uniforms fastened to the car seat of a black Volkswagen kept taking pictures of the complainants.

As proceedings went on, the scammers told the court that some people were trailing them.

Mr Asuman Basalirwa, who is representing the victims, said: “My clients are not interested in keeping people in jail; what they want is their money back. We can also enter a plea bargaining and have the suspects free; short of that, we shall pursue this matter to the very end.”

It has also been established that several cases relating the online fraud have been opened at police stations in Kabale, Jinja, Kampala, Mbarara, Gulu, and Mbale.

According to Charles Twine, the police CID spokesperson, cases of online fraud in the country were on the increase and urged Ugandans to be on the lookout for the scammers.

“We are beginning to record more of these cases – where people are fleeced of their hard-earned money in the name of providing highly-paying jobs overseas or promised very high profits on investments,” Twine said.

According to Twine, many victims fail to report such cases to police because some of them are civil servants, while others earned that money illicitly and believe they will be investigated for the source of such money. He added that once the fraudsters are arrested, recovering the victims’ money is hard because shortly after receiving the money, the scammers quickly share it among their many networks.

Additional reporting by Daily Monitor

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