Connect with us

Business

University student who bought planes, lived life in the fast lane

Published

on

As Loretta Wavinya and Lillian Nzongi, in distinctive orange jumpsuits, walked into prison to start their terms as convicted fraudsters, their relative Jeffrey Ndungi Sila was eyeing an opportunity to run the racket.

That Wavinya had been jailed for 14 years and her sister, Nzongi, for five years for defrauding the American government of Sh975 million, was not a deterrent enough for Ndungi.

Shortly after his cousins were jailed, Ndungi jumped into the fray. And the returns were so good that, in 2012, just two years after graduating, Ndungi had bought himself two Cessna planes with registration numbers 5Y-CCN and 5Y-CCO.

Ndungi was only 23 and pursuing an engineering degree at the University of Nairobi when he started leading a flamboyant lifestyle. A quiet and geeky person, according to those who know him, Ndungi’s personality in university was an exact opposite of who he was in primary and secondary school.

A Cessna plane belonging to Jeffrey Sila, parked at a city airport.

Pool

After sitting his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams at Unoa Primary School in Wote in 1999, Ndungi joined Alliance High School after posting excellent grades. His schoolmates say he was very religious and an official of the Christian Union. He couldn’t hurt a fly, they say, although that quietness did mask his other side.

A friend who bumped into him in 2005, just two years after high school, when Ndungi was a first year student at the University of Nairobi, was surprised to see him driving a brand new Subaru. As other students were cramming themselves in hostels after lectures, Ndungi drove himself to his own house in Nairobi’s South B, a middle-class neighbourhood.

He was wealthy when we were in campus

“He was wealthy when we were in campus and had several fuel guzzlers — a BMW, a Mercedes Benz and several Subarus,” a former classmate told the Nation.

With no known sources of income, Ndungi’s flamboyant lifestyle was definitely questionable, but his classmates had no clue where he was getting his money. It was assumed that his mother, who was based in Kansas, USA, was financing his lifestyle.

But Ndungi had possibly been introduced to the vice by his uncle Paul Kilungya Nyumu, the man who introduced his entire family to cybercrime before vanishing. Nyumu had also played a big role in laundering funds stolen by his two nieces, Wavinya and Nzongi.

It’s not known if some of this money was used to finance Ndungi’s flashy lifestyle while still in campus. What’s known, however, is that Ndungi had over a period of three years watched from the front row how the proceeds of cybercrime could finance someone’s lifestyle and he wanted in.

He was not alone. Also watching on the sidelines was Ndungi’s uncle, Robert Mutua Muli, who was by then based in Virginia, US.

A mugshot of Robert Muli.

Alexandria Sheriff’s Office

Muli is a cousin of Nyumu, the fugitive and original mastermind of the tax filing syndicate.

Another entrant was Nyumu’s daughter, Monica, who had relocated to the US after abandoning her teaching career in Kenya. Monica is Ndungi’s mother.

From the beginning, the family relied on Monica’s salary. But as the money started flowing – and everyone could notice – her husband, a former councillor in Wote, was forced to relocate to Mlolongo following frequent attacks by armed robbers who wanted a share of their new-found riches.

Ndungi was by this time engaged in cyber fraud in Kenya, Nigeria, North Africa and the United States. He started by hacking into Multichoice systems, which enabled him to mint cash from illegal distribution of DSTV signals.

Stealing identities

Then, he joined the tried-and-tested family business: stealing the identities of American citizens and using them to claim fake tax refunds. But since he had seen his two cousins get jailed for similar crimes, Ndungi opted to use Nairobi as his base. That way, he thought, he was safe.

Meanwhile, his uncle Muli decided to try his hand at an entirely new type of cyber fraud known as Business Email Compromise.

Muli’s gang, which comprised criminals based in Kenya, would hack into official emails of companies, identify their business partners and convince them to divert payments to their accounts.

But both schemes would fall apart spectacularly.

Criminal files and court proceedings from the US and Kenya reviewed by the Nation Investigations Desk indicate that while Ndungi was the head of a DSTV hacking cartel in Kenya, he was just an employee in the American tax fraud syndicate.

His uncle Muli, too, despite being integral in the BEC scheme, since he was based in the US, was taking instructions from people in Kenya. This is according to a transcription of Muli’s WhatsApp messages that were retrieved from his phone by the FBI and which we have obtained.

In Nairobi

The key architect of the scam, who is saved in the messages as a Frank MA, was based in Nairobi, and had the right connections in the banking system to enable the thousands of dollars they were stealing from the US to make it to Kenya.

It is Frank who was issuing instructions to Muli on almost everything, from registering his own company, Rogram Home Improvement, which was to be the recipient of the stolen funds, to who to send the money to once it hit the accounts.

In one of the messages, Frank informs Muli that the bank manager, whose name we have withheld, had written to him about the willingness of the bank, in Nairobi’s Westlands, to take the money.

This money was supposed to be wired to a law firm that had an account with the bank.

This is how the scam worked. Frank’s associates first hacked into Dell’s system and created clones of emails belonging to the computer firm’s finance department. Then they took note of the companies that had running contracts with Dell for the supply of computers.

Divert payments

Once identified, Frank would use the cloned emails to write letters to the victims and ask them to divert payments owed to Dell to different bank accounts. Some of the entities that were conned include Fairfax County, which lost $1.3 million (Sh130 million) in the scam and the University of California, which lost $749,158 (Sh75 million).

“A review of the emails from Co-conspirator 1 to Victim 1 shows the emails were sent from a single Internet Protocol (IP) address from Kenya — IP address 41.72.192.154. When Co-conspirator 1 sent these emails, travel records indicate that Muli was in the US,” says the investigation file on Muli’s gang.

The Nation has established that the said IP address that was used in the fraud is in Malindi.

This means that Frank, who has not been arrested, could have been in Malindi during the entire period of the fraud. His whereabouts or true identity still remains unknown.

Apart from Frank, other people who may have been part of the scam – since they received the thousands of dollars that were stolen – include a Francis Asanyo Mobisa, Beth Nyambura Gitau, Anthony Mureithi and Rachel Mathenge.

Beth, who is Muli’s wife and based in Naivasha, received over a million shillings on diverse dates between December 2018 and March 2019. Mobisa received Sh400,000 on February 26,2019, while Frank pocketed most of the money.

He never went anywhere without his large bible

Meanwhile, as Muli sent most of his proceeds from the fraud to Kenya, he continued to lead a simple life in the US. He maintained his job as a driver and posed as a very religious family man to his neighbours.

“He never went anywhere without his large bible, well-worn and with many bookmarks. He told me he had a prayer ministry for Kenyans, which he gave hours. His only day of refreshment and ease was Sunday,” his neighbour Linda Senter would later tell law enforcement agencies. To the FBI though, this was a façade.

While Muli managed to hide his criminal deeds by remaining humble, his nephew in Nairobi wasn’t. As if buying two planes wasn’t enough, Ndungi acquired two luxury cars: a Range Rover and an American Cadillac Escalade.

Multichoice, however, soon realised he was using his legally opened accounts to sell viewership packages to several individuals in Kenya and Nigeria. Consequently, Ndungi was arrested on March 31, 2015 after police raided his residence at Executive Suite Estate house number 15 in South B.

He was released on bail, but as the case progressed, he continued focussing all his energies on stealing the identities of American citizens and using them to claim fake tax refunds. To avoid detection, he filed the fake returns using a computer located at a cyber café at Vision Plaza along Mombasa Road.

Six years

After what was a successful six-year run in the American syndicate, Ndungi’s cookie started crumbling in 2014. He used the identity of a Cynthia H. Short, to file tax returns for the year. The returns indicated that Ms Short worked for Aureus Radiology LLC, a company based in Omaha, Nebraska and that she received wages of $116,740 (Sh11.6 million).

Short’s tax history indicated that she was liable for a refund of $76,592.86 (Sh7.6 million). In applying for the refund, “Ms Short” listed P.O. Box 925, Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi as her current mailing address.

When the US Internal Revenue Service called Aureus Radiology to confirm Short’s employment status, they discovered that the company had never even heard of her. The IRS then sent an undercover agent to pose as a client looking to buy treasury cheques.

Fake cheques

The agent contacted Ndungi in January 2016, saying he was looking for fake treasury cheques. He fell for the trap, boarded a plane and headed to the US hoping for a Sh7.6 million payday.

In his first meeting with the undercover agent, which took place on August 1, 2016, he received $48,000 (Sh4.8 million) in cash after arguing that there were several other players in the deal all looking to get paid. The meeting took place at Korean House, 2598 Royal Lane in Dallas, Texas.

In a taped conversation Ndungi offered to bring more fake cheques.

Convinced they had finally landed their man after a six-year search, the FBI arrested Ndungi two days later as an Emirates plane he had boarded to Dubai in order to connect to Nairobi was sitting on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport. He is serving a seven-year jail term.

And Muli was arrested while at an airport trying to catch a flight to escape to Kenya after stealing more than Sh200 million by tricking American government institutions to wire payments meant for computing company Dell. He was handed a five-year sentence at the end of last year.

By Nation.co.ke

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

What’s Happening at Victory Gardens – Kitengela

Published

on

Effectiveness of Gated Communities in Providing Safe Environments for Childrens’ Outdoor Convenience

Due to safety factors, children use of outdoor spaces can be limited.

Victory Gardens, a residential gated community with access control and guarded area has been deliberately developed to give parents peace of mind as they get about their daily business without worrying so much about the safety of their children.

The Children’ Play Park along Mwangaza Avenue was also designed with children that are brought up in this gated community in mind.

This project’s Care Taker, Mr. Ondiek and his team have a brief to make sure that the grass is well manicured to make this space as safe as possible for children.

Why not secure a site visit and invest in your children future?

Call us on: 0790300300 or 0723400500
Website: www.optiven.co.ke

 

~Experience the difference ~

 

Continue Reading

Business

The road less travelled

Published

on

According to a June 2020 study by Flone Initiative, women make up 10 per cent of the work force in the public transport industry in the country, 85 per cent of them being matatu conductors in Nairobi; it is no longer a male-dominated job. However,

“I used to ride the so-called nganyas to school every day, and being that I am a social and open-minded person, I would interact with the accomodating personnel and with time, I deeply fell in love with the unique culture that is the Kenyan matatu industry,” she tells PD Wikendi. A daughter of Italian parents who met and got married in Kenya, Lucia is thankful to have been born and bred in this country with an atypical public transport sector, which would become her biggest passion.

After completing high school, she joined Montessori College in Nairobi to pursue teaching, a course she did not complete, as what she desired was to work as a tout. However, she would again proceed to pursue a certificate in pharmacy, which is her mother’s profession. In 2015, Lucia ditched her pharmacy career and decided to follow her heart, becoming a full-time makanga in Kitengela, a route she says she felt comfortable in, being that she was serving people she grew up around.

Lucia recalls how at first, residents of Kitengela, seeing a mzungu on the matatu door calling on passengers to board, were certain it was a prank. “In my first days, people were dumbfounded, wondering if it was a stunt. They even became reluctant to board the vehicle, as they thought that maybe there was a hidden camera somewhere recording the ‘prank’. No one believed a mlami could take this job, but, eventually, they realised it was for real and got used to it,” she recounts.

The venture was fraught with challenges for her; not only was she a woman in a rough man’s world, but also a ‘foreigner’. “Some commuters felt they could get aggressive towards me, for example when disgruntled by what they found to be high fares. Dealing with a rude passenger who does not want to cooperate and respect my hustle is still among my worst moments while in the line of duty. Some passengers like to show that they are allknowing. Again, there were instances where people thought I don’t understand Swahili or sheng, which I speak fluently, so they would throw jabs at me, but I never let it get to me. If you are a strong woman who respects herself and you understand that this is a job like any other, there is no situation that would be too difficult to manoeuvre. Women are many in the industry these days, and people now take it as a normal thing,” adds Lucia, who currently works in Crisis of Wamasaa Sacco.

PANDEMIC STRUGGLE
At the moment, the Covid-19 pandemic, which has really hamstrung their work, is

it is still unusual to meet a woman nganya crewmember. It is even rarer to meet one from a different race. But, the well known Lucia Alessandra Murotto, a Caucasian woman conductor, never saw these as barriers to stop her from following her passion. Walking along Nairobi’s Railways bus terminus, where Kitengela matatus are stationed, you will likely meet the 29-year-old shouting herself hoarse calling for passengers, a job she has now served in for over five years.

Growing up in Kitengela, Kajiado county, Lucia, famously known as Mlami by the area residents owing to her Italian origin, never prayed for something bigger in her future than serving in the matatu industry. Her desire to join the sector grew while she was still in high school, when the single mother of one used to commute daily to school, boarding the renowned decorated matatus of the vibrant route 110 Kitee, and got to interact with the friendly crews.

FALLING IN LOVE

the biggest issue that, like others in the sector, she’s dealing with on the job. “We are only carrying 60 per cent of the bus capacity, so, hitting the profit target becomes an uphill task. To cope, investors have sadly been forced to send some crewmembers home, and we’ve also had to raise fares so as to at least remain afloat,” she explains.

Challenges aside, what Lucia loves the most about her job is how the crews she works with are humble and understanding. “We live like one big family, sticking by each other through thick and thin. We are always there for one another, be it during funerals, weddings, when one of our colleagues gets a child, even birthdays, we come together and offer support,” she beams.

When not filling matatus with passengers and collecting fares, the last-born in a family of two daughters helps her mum out at her pharmacy in Kisaju. Meanwhile, the nganya culture enthusiasm has rubbed of on her nine-year-old son, who she says knows almost all the Kitengela hot mats by name.

For now, it appears Lucia is in it for the long haul. “I have been dreaming of investing in the matatu industry since I was 16. I would love to take my matatu to Kitengela, Rongai or even Eastleigh, since I have worked on the three routes and I know their ins and outs, ” she concludes.

By PD.co.ke

Continue Reading

Business

Our Thrilling Two Hours Tour at Victory Gardens Phase 3, 4 & 5 on the 18th of September 2020

Published

on

It was a very electrifying afternoon as we mentored our social media followers on how to build positive and remarkable relationships.

We touched on various life issues including how to laugh with a confident and deliberate abandonment, how to build extraordinarily positive relationships in families, workplaces, with God and in our social lives.

We also spared a cool 30 minutes to point at plot beacons for our customers, showing them how trees at this gated community are flourishing plus showing customers how Optiven has done the drainages.

Oh! We even had great fun crawling through one of the drainage culvert, which easily accommodated Optiven Team Leader as he easily crept to the other end. You can catch up with the Facebook Live here: (https://web.facebook.com/watch/?v=776150606288508&extid=GOZRywQJbqSrzSDM)

You can also catch up with the entire episode on You Tube right here: https://youtu.be/apZ14dvBg_g

What’s more, we prayed and prophesied for more customers to start building their dream homes in this gated community; to live victorious, joyfully and peacefully, in this extraordinary project that is located at the heart on Kitengela in Nairobi Metropolis.

If you want to join this remarkable and amazing project or to refer someone, just get in touch with us today. (Every person who refers someone will be mentioned on our next show)

*Call us now on: 0790 300 300 or 0723 400 500
Visit our website:* www.optiven.co.ke

Continue Reading


poapay3

Like us on Facebook, stay informed

NEWS TRENDING RIGHT NOW

2020 Calendar

satellite-communication1.jpg

Trending

error: Content is protected !!