Rwanda National Police (RNP) spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera said that several people have fallen victims through such scams orchestrated by specific groups of people, who lure especially small income earners into believing that they are joining a registered association or cooperative backed by local authorities as a community development project.
In the latest case, more than 200 women joined a savings scheme dubbed “Turemerane” in Rusizi District. It later came to light that the illegal scheme was formed by a group with “individual interests.”
The pyramid scheme required each member to pay between Frw100, 000 and Frw1 million. This was under the promise that the contribution would be multiplied depending on the number of other women a member has recruited and subscribed to the same scheme.
Those who paid Rwf100, 000, for example, were promised to get Rwf800, 000 after recruiting other eight women while those who paid Rwf500, 000 expected to be given Rwf4 million in return.
More than Rwf64 million had been contributed by members, according to sources.
CP Kabera said that some of those connected to this scheme have been identified and arrested.
“Following the intervention of the Police and local leaders, some people behind this illegal savings scheme have since returned the money extorted from residents, but we are still searching for one Nadine Rugwiro, who was the accountant. Rugwiro’s husband identified as Elie Bigirimana, who is suspected to be part of the ring, was however arrested,” said the spokesperson.
He observed that deception and fraud appear in varied forms and that some groups of people use different means to scam unsuspecting members of the public.
“We have received many cases of fraud orchestrated in various forms, where many people have become victims of money or property fraud, and those involved in these criminal practices arrested. We urge the public to be vigilant of such criminal minded groups and share information on those suspected to be engaged in such deceptive practices.
What the law says
Clause One of article 174 of the law determining offences and penalties in general in Rwanda, defines fraud as deception, obtaining another person’s property, whole or part of his/her finance by use of false names or qualifications, or offering positive promises or threats of future misfortunes.
Clause Two of the same article provides a term of imprisonment of between two and three years, and a fine of not less than Rwf3 million but not more than Rwf5 million, upon conviction.
In clause Three, if the offence is committed by a person, who intends to issue shares, shareholders’ bills, securities, bonds, vouchers, or any other cash value, either for a business, trading company or industry, the applicable penalty is an imprisonment for a term of not less than three years and not more than five years with a fine of Rwf5 million to Rwf7 million.