CRIMINALS based in Harare are allegedly swindling established insurance service providers through promising lucrative business partnerships only to defraud them later, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
A syndicate led by Anderson Ncube using mobile number 0714591211 is targeting reputable players in the insurance sector by disguising himself as the owner of Ncube Gold Mine situated in Silobela, an agricultural village 60 km west of Kwekwe.
A quick investigation showed that no such mine exists in Kwekwe.
Ncube and his alleged accomplice using mobile number 0778259023 (the number not registered on the Econet Ecocash platform) contact unsuspecting insurance service providers requesting a meeting to facilitate business deals which also entail registering medical and funeral cover for their mine workers (Ncube Gold Mine).
The duo will then advise officials from the targeted companies to pay accommodation fees at a lodge called Silobela Lodge and Transporters arguing that the meeting will likely take longer because of the distance from Silobela to Kwekwe, thus it will be advisable for them to put up at the lodge before leaving for Harare.
However, the payment had to be paid in advance since it was a busy lodge. But it has since been established that Silobela Lodge and Transporters is non-existent.
The lodge does not have a company bank account as expected but uses a personal NMB Bank account registered in the name of Edwin Takudzwa Dana, account number 0000231870897.
A quotation sent to another reputable insurance company seen by the Independent had a total of ZW$30 000 (US$97 on the current auction rate) covering accommodation, dinner, and breakfast.
Two officials from ZimSelector, the first internet-based distribution platform for financial services products in Zimbabwe helped expose this criminality.
On Tuesday this week, ZimSelector left for Kwekwe in the hope of meeting Ncube and his manager to discuss insurance packages for the mine workers.
“Upon arriving in Kwekwe, Ncube advised us to quickly pay accommodation fees to an NMB account to avoid last-minute headaches but we ignored him.
“He further requested us to send his manager US$90 via Mukuru, a money transfer platform, as the latter wanted to make a payment somewhere. We were to get our reimbursement upon arriving at the mine where Ncube was,” an official said.
Ncube also advised the officials that the road to his mine was bad so they had to park their vehicles at a certain location and then meet up with his manager who would take them to the mine.
They again refused.
“Upon hearing our story, one of my colleague’s Kwekwe-based relatives told us that these criminals have conned companies using the same modus operandi.”
The ZimSelector officials immediately made a police report.
The Independent tracked down one Tangai Mavhera, a construction company owner, who got almost duped by the same people.
Mavhera was lured by Ncube from Wedza under the guise that the latter wanted to build 40 staff quarters for his mine workers.
“I was told to send US$65 via Mukuru to Ncube’s manager and I was to get my reimbursement from Ncube at his mine. I refused. These people are criminals and the police should help us,” Mavhera said.
Investigations have shown that the duo has been conning several people every day, which is why they are charging seemingly small amounts that companies can pay but making a lump sum in the process.
ZimSelector business development manager Zelina Francis said such cases should be reported immediately so that the sector is not affected.
“We have come to know that a number of people have been hoodwinked by these people but as ZimSelector we are saying such things should not be left unreported, that is why we are proud to have exposed this treachery so that it does not continue unabated,” Francis said.
Contacted for comment, Inspector Norest Gwenyambira from Kwekwe’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) confirmed that a number of people almost fell victim to the fraudsters.
Another detective who spoke on condition of anonymity also confirmed this scam.
“Companies are being double-crossed via this method and law enforcement is on the ground trying to locate the suspects. We have tracked the numbers being used and we have established that the suspects are actually in Harare and not Kwekwe. We will do all we can to ensure that they are brought to book,” the detective said.
The Independent tried calling Ncube and his accomplice but their phones went unanswered.