Scammers Use Ministers’ Names to Steal Money

POLICE have warned members of the public to be wary of scammers using ministers’ names to steal from unsuspecting and gullible people.

According to police spokesperson deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, they are investigating a number of cases where conmen posing as ministers, asked members of the public to transfer money into the ministers’ bank accounts as an emergency loan.

After the deposit is made, the victims will not hear from the ‘ministers’ again.

Among ministers whose names have been used are those of finance minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.

The Namibian’s coastal reporter Adam Hartman almost fell for the scam on Friday when a caller who introduced herself as Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s secretary asked him to hold the line for the ‘minister’.

When the person claiming to be the ‘minister’ (albeit with a masculine voice) took over the phone, ‘she’ told the reporter that her daughter had been robbed of cash and other belongings while travelling from Oshikango to Rosh Pinah.

The ‘minister’ then asked the reporter to transfer N$500 into her stranded daughter’s account because she could not do it since she had to leave for Angola in 15 minutes for a funeral.

The ‘minister’ assured Hartman that she would meet him at the Nama music awards (held in Swakopmund) on Saturday where she would repay him.

When the reporter became too inquisitive, the caller said: “You know what this has been a misunderstanding, neh. I’m so sorry, but I have to go now, my lift is here to the airport. Goodbye.”

A call to the minister’s office quickly unveiled the facts when the minister’s acting PA, Irja Stefanus, said such scams have been going on for some time.

“There are people using the minister’s identity to dupe people of cash. The police have been informed,” said Stefanus.

Kanguatjivi encouraged victims of such scams to take bank accounts and cellphone number of the scammers for the police to use in investigations.

“These culprits are specialists and know what they are doing. We are investigating,” said Kanguatjivi.

The Namibian spoke to a victim of the same scam, a general manager of a big hotel in Windhoek, who said he received a similar call from ‘home affairs minister’ telling him that the minister’s son had been detained by police at the border and asked him to pay N$2 000 for his release.

“They sounded so professional such that I fell for it. I paid the money. They tried to get more out of me but then I smelt a rat. I called the ministry and was told it was a scam,” he said.

Source : The Namibian