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Is Nairobi safe haven for fake gold dealers?

Nairobi is fast becoming the best conduit for conmen and conwomen dealing in fake gold.

At the weekend, detectives seized fake gold bars from a strong room belonging to Swissport transit freight station, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The fake gold bars concealed in 31 boxes received from Uganda had been stored at the Swissport transit freight station to avoid detection by authorities.

According to sleuths, traders behind the consignment have been luring unsuspecting investors to view the fake gold bars on the pretext that they are genuine at the customs offices at JKIA.

“Once at the airport, a prospective buyer is lured to Swissport’s strong room, where what appears to be genuine gold bars are displayed. The client is advised that once the transaction is completed, the gold will be shipped to any destination of his choice across the globe,” DCI said in a statement on Sunday.

The cons however disappear immediately the buyer is convinced that the transaction is legitimate and makes payments, including customs and shipping costs.

One such businessman is said to have lost overKsh.34 million to the tricksters, who then allegedly used the funds to acquire posh premises in high end estates guarded by police officers.

“It is in these upmarket establishments, where they perfected the art of international organized gold scam fraud, by luring unsuspecting genuine investors from across the world to part with millions of money in exchange of fake gold,” said the DCI.

According to DCI, in a well-coordinated and orchestrated scheme the fraudsters began by acquiring posh premises in high-end estates, guarded round the clock by police officers.

“It is in these upmarket establishments, where they perfected the art of international organized gold scam fraud, by luring unsuspecting genuine investors from across the world to part with millions of money in exchange for fake gold,” DCI said.

Adding, “Detectives stormed many such premises and spoilt their party. The creative criminals thought they were smarter than detectives and acquired bank safe deposit boxes as their next safe haven.”

They exploited the services of custody of private memorabilia and treasure banking and started depositing fake gold in banks.

The detectives say they have discovered that the multi-million-shilling crime ring is executed with the assistance of various agencies, including some government institutions.

The DCI has since cautioned anyone intending to venture in the gold business to be on the lookout for fraudsters, urging them to confirm the authenticity of the gold deposits with relevant government agencies first.

Cases of fake gold have been reported in Kenya, in recent time.

In February Police in Nairobi arrested a Nigerian man for allegedly defrauding a US national Ksh17.6 million.

According to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Yussuf Daniel Masara had convinced the victim that he would sell him 50Kgs of gold valued at Ksh17.6 million but failed to keep his end of the bargain after receiving the money.

In 2019 detectives from the Flying Squad unit arrested four Rwandese nationals and two Kenyans after they were found with 50 kilograms of fake gold in Kilimani.