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Conmen from heritage oil PDF Print E-mail

By Esther Nakkazi

From the I-Network Mailing list

One fine morning, a gentleman who was well acquainted with him and all his particulars called Mr. Richard Okuti.

The caller, allegedly a medical doctor, on mobile number 0712174443 with an office on plot 8, Kibira road wanted Okuti to buy ring turbos for Heritage Oil and Gas, a Canadian company, which is prospecting for oil in the Albertine Graben in mid-western Uganda.

Information available to-date indicates Uganda has commercial quantities of oil (600 millions of barrels of oil) an estimated potential of 1 billion barrels.  Although the conmen (bafele) referred to them as ‘ring turbos’, they could either be rings that are attached to the turbo on drilling rigs or turbo rings.

The turbo is a mud-powered cylindrical turbine used for down hole drilling and the rings are attached to the turbo. Why are they expensive? They are made from tough stainless steel, have superior resistance to heat and are durable.

But they could also have been referring to turbo rings, which are used to increase system reliability or enablers of smooth operation of redundant Ethernet networks.     

“Dr. Kivumbi” wanted Okuti, the director Asili Richards, an international marketing and IT company to procure 80 units of rings at $3,000 each.

The ring specifications were PK 208, FKP207 and were to be used in pairs. The potential supplier was Simon Nsubuga on 0754935297 of Yurt International, a company that supplies ring turbos based in Nalukolongo.  To make the deal look authentic, Okuti was put through to the boss who was to travel to Kajjansi and purchase the ring turbos with cash from him at a higher price, yet to be negotiated, making him an instant millionaire.

This was one of the subjects under discussion by members on the I-network mailing list This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .   In most cases, the conmen get the names of their victims from business cards; sometimes they use a name of your best friend from school or an old boy/girl. They at times get sophisticated by suggesting a meeting at the airport under the pretext that the overall boss will be coming through Nairobi to Entebbe by Kenya Airways.

Okuti got curious and ready to nab the conmen. So he got ready to go to Nalukolongo but he alerted a friend, a security personnel, just in case. On his way to Nalukolongo, a call came through asking him to deal with Isaac, one of the people at Yurt International but he had to first call him on 0756286929.

On calling Isaac, he was told that the company was infact called ‘Damy Damy’ or ‘Dummy’ headed by an Engineer Patrick Kivumbi and that it stocks the rings in Uganda. To pick the clue in this, some people look out for company names like Dummy, which means imitation and ‘Kivumbi’ which in Kiswahili means trick. “It is such a consuming and alluring engagement they talk you into it and you cannot easily discover that you are being taken for a ride. I later laughed at the clues in the words they use,” said Mathias Mayombwe of ANEJ-Uganda.       

Other members told a similar story on the I-Network mailing list. Sometimes, unsuspecting members were told the rings were to be used in a cobalt mining company.

“I was contacted by the same conmen but I was like why the hell are they contacting someone like me who works in IT to buy ring turbos,” Simon Vass technical manager, E-Tech Uganda Ltd wondered.

 

Johnson Nkuuhe who works with the UN Millennium villages project said this type of conmen are common and some of his friends have been conned, while others just tell the conmen to go hang.  

He tried several times to catch the conmen with the help of the Police but they were smart and fast.

“In other schemes, the conmen advertise for jobs in the UN and if you go along they give you a telephone interview and later ask for your bank account,” said Nkuuhe.

“Young people should be warned. Money does not grow on trees. Most of these schemes are variations of Nigerian schemes.”   “I knew they were conmen; my challenge was what their motive was. At every step I got excited at the prospect of nabbing this racket,” said Okuti.

 

On reaching Nalukolongo, Okuti was informed that Simon was at Roofing’s and Isaac's phone was off. Meanwhile the boss who was supposed to have landed at Kajjansi airfield was nowhere to be seen.

Okuti wanted to see what the conmen would do if he showed up but unfortunately the deal did not come through; they were too slippery and suspicious.

“How can we get these conmen into check?” asked Okuti. 

 

How can the conmen be tracked using IT or other means?

“My story is similar to Okuti’s with the exact mobile numbers. Can’t we track these goons as they talk and we crack their network? Surely the technology exists and can be used to nab them,” said a member from the I-Network mailing list. The possibility of tracking the fraudsters may be much more impossible than we may think given the fact that the Ministry of Defence has a hard time tracking terrorists on the different communications avenues, said Sematimba

 

Although some I-Network members thought that mobile companies could help track these guys’ locations, others were doubtful saying it had many challenges and limitations. Mobile calls can be tracked through call data records for each call that is initiated. The type of data captured depends on the configuration of the mobile switch.

 

Amelo Ejalu explained that this data could for instance include the regulatory or legal data requirements and other data elements the mobile operator deems useful for his consumption for operations like billing, marketing, for backups, archives and other details.   With either a mobile number, a top up or airtime card serial number of its activation pin or mobile handset number, this information can be obtained and analysed for any call. The limitations to this though include length and mode of storage, cooperation of mobile operators (national and regional players) so that if any one of these people changes SIM card and hops onto another provider, the tracking continues.

 

Another point of consideration could be the need for a national Identity Card, said Derek Sejjuko. “If all that information was collected, the picture would almost be complete to nail the conmen.”  

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