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How How I lost Sh3.2 million to con artist

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A Brazilian pyramid scheme operating in Kenya has gone down with hundreds of millions of shillings belonging to local bitcoin investors.

The firm, founded by Brazilian con Ricardo Rocha, promised those who would be ranked among its biggest investors by April 18, 2018, a free five-day trip to the United Arab Emirates, where they would meet “top global business gurus”.

Ms Esther Muthoni, a businesswoman, is among the thousands of Kenyans who fell for the fraud and invested Sh3.2 million in the scheme.

She hoped to make a killing. Instead Ms Muthoni has lost her life savings. Now she is desperate, sick and confused.

She introduced her friend Lucy Kamatu, who invested Sh550,000 into the scheme. That, too, is gone.

The two illustrate the predicament of Kenyans who were lured into the world of cryptocurrency by Rocha and his agents at Velox 10 Global, a little-known company that claimed to trade in bitcoins.

The firm said it would help investors mint millions of shillings in profits.

It charged $100 (about Sh10,000) as membership fee, but members needed to upgrade by paying an additional $200, with the promise of earning up to $4,000 daily.

The Velox launch at Hotel Intercontinental, Nairobi on September 20, 2017 was colourful.

It promised ambitious Kenyans millions of shillings in returns if they let it invest their cash in bitcoins.

At the time, the then Central Bank of Kenya Governor Njuguna Ndung’u warned against investing in the cryptocurrency.

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At the time Velox began its operations in Kenya, it had not yet been registered as a company in the country.

It was registered on January 25, 2018, nearly four years after its operations began.

Media reports from the launch event indicated that Mr Rocha was accompanied by the local Velox representative, Mr Paul Mugo.

Other individuals that were used to market the venture were Ms Sarah Nyambura and Ms Jane Nyambura.

Neither Mr Mugo nor the Nyamburas have answered our calls nor replied text messages in the past two weeks.

Velox, however, is not the only vehicle fraudsters have used to take gullible Kenyans for a ride.

A source at Central Police Station in Nairobi told the Nation that complaints had been raised against another digital currency company.

“Most of those accused opt to settle the cases out of court,” the source

said.

When Velox premiered in Kenya, Ms Muthoni hoped for a stress-free investment to secure her future.

She was one of the hundreds of Kenyans who attended the launch, where they were taught how to wire money to the bank account of Velox agent Daniel Karobia Gichuki.

They were promised up to 50 per cent profits on their investments, a typical line used by pyramid schemes.

Promised more money

Ms Muthoni and the others were also promised more money if they introduced more people to the idea.

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On November 13 and 17, 2017, Ms Muthoni wired Sh3.2 million to Mr Gichuki’s Equity Bank account.

Mr Gichuki was aware that the bank would want to know why she was transferring more than Sh1 million as required by law.

He told her to indicate that the money was “payment for work done” in the transfer forms.

“I knew I would recover the money in months,” Ms Muthoni told the Nation.

Six months later, a desperate Ms Muthoni reported the matter to Central Police Station when Mr Gichuki refused to return her money.

She also said Mr Gichuki had even threatened to harm her and her daughter. Mr Gichuki was arrested and arraigned for fraud the Milimani chief magistrate’s court. The case is ongoing.

He, however, insists that he was a businessman who also lost his investment, and that he has been in contact with some people that traded through him, to talk them out of suing “since I am also a loser”.

He insists that Ms Muthoni and others who invested in Velox were adults who knew what they were doing.

“The fact that my account was used for the transactions is no reason to blame me,” he told the court.

accessible.
Velox10.com is up for sale, under auction by an IT firm called BGroup.

The second one, veloxglobal.com, reads: “This webpage is parked for free”. An IT expert contacted said the message means the website was a dummy page and likely never existed.

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In January last year, a group of seven filed a case at the High Court seeking to stop Velox from operating in Kenya.

Mr Bernard Mulwa, Mr Joshua Obebo, Ms Nancy Kamau, Mr George Itabari, Mr Barnabas Mwangi, Mr Bernard Makira and Mr Stanslaus Mutua said they invested money into Velox but were worried that the firm was operating against what it was allowed to do: handling non- financial assets.

They added that Velox had no registered local shareholders or partners as required by the law.

The group also wanted CBK, Capital Markets Authority and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations ordered to take action against Velox and its founder.

“CBK and the CMA have failed in their licensing and regulatory duties by allowing Velox to continue its illegal activities within Kenya. They ought to be compelled to take legal action against the company,” they told the court.

However, they did not say how much they had invested in Velox.

The Flying Squad wrote to the court requesting for the filed documents, which it wanted to use in an extortion investigation.

Shortly before the seven filed the case, police officers arrested Mr Rocha after an investors meeting at the Hotel Intercontinental.

However, he was released shortly after.

Flying Squad deputy head Jackson Owino on Friday told the Nation that investigations into the scheme are ongoing.

Source: Daily Nation

 

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Africa

Ethiopian Airlines to build $5 billion mega airport 

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By JUDITH GICOBI

Ethiopian Airlines has disclosed a project plan to put up a large airport at a cost amounting to USD5 billion (KSh500 billion).

The construction of the present-day airport will start in the year 2020 in Bishoftu, a town situated 39 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, according to Ethiopian chief executive officer Tewolde Gebremariam.

The airport will extend over to an area of 35 square km, and it will be built in a way it can serve over 100 million passengers a year.

“Bole Airport is not going to accommodate us; we have a beautiful expansion project. The airport looks very beautiful and very large, but with the way that we are growing, in about three or four years we are going to be full,” the state-run Ethiopian News Agency quoted Tewolde.

Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa handles approximately 19 million passengers in a year. The chief executive officer announced that the construction will commence in the coming six months, but he did not reveal how the project will be financed or who will construct the airport.

READ ALSO:   Woman remanded for threatening to beat up dad over love affair
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Africa

Akon gets the green light to build his own city in Senegal

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By JUDITH GICOBI

Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, alias Akon, an American-Senegalese singer, tweeted on the development of his own “Wakanda” city in Africa.

Akon gave an update on Monday via Twitter, that the deal for the city “Akon city” has been completed and “looking forward to hosting you there in the future.” 

“Just finalized the agreement for AKON CITY in Senegal. Looking forward to hosting you there in the future,” Akon tweeted.

Akon first shared the plans for “Crypto city” in 2018. The city would be built on a 2,000-acre land that he received as a gift from President of Senegal, Macky Sall. Business transactions in the city will be on its digital cash currency called AKoin.

In 2018, Akon said he believes Akoin could be the “savior of Africa.” “I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system. Cryptocurrency also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow the government to do those things that are keeping them down.”

 

 

READ ALSO:   Woman remanded for threatening to beat up dad over love affair
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Africa

Ethiopian-Airline Ethiopian passenger plane forced to divert after flying into swarm of locusts

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An Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane is reported to have diverted to the capital Addis Ababa instead of a scheduled landing in the chartered city of Dire Dawa after it ran into a swarm of grasshoppers.

The decision to divert to Addis Ababa was due to reduced visibility despite efforts by the pilots to clean the windscreens upon impact with the locusts.

According to the BBC, a spokesman for the airline confirmed that the plane was diverted by the swarm of insects but did not give further details of Thursday’s incident.

The incident comes at a time various regions of Kenya have been invaded by swarms of locust which have left a trail of devastation that is causing food security concerns in the country.

Former Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mwangi Kiunjuri, last week said the pest invasion and its potential for rapid spread to other countries poses an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the country.

The government is spraying pesticide in the affected areas to battle the insects.

Kiunjuri, who has since been sacked by President Uhuru Kenyatta, said the migratory nature of the locusts made it even more difficult to deal with.

“The fight against this invasion is not without challenges, first of all they are trans-boundary pests that need to be tackled through a regional strategy to ensure that they are attacked from their resting habitats,” Kiunjuri said back then.

READ ALSO:   Woman remanded for threatening to beat up dad over love affair

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