Recently, con men defrauding people by disguising themselves as faithful people are increasing. I will refer to them as religious confidence tricksters. As you know, the number of unemployed Ugandans is high. Every year, universities power on the job market thousands of graduates, yet the job creation rate is too slow.
Most of these university graduates don’t have survival skills. They are educated and intelligent. Because they don’t have jobs and lack survival skills, some of them have resorted to defrauding people. And if you are not careful, the chances of losing your hard-earned money and assets are high. It’s the reason why I have been prompted to share this useful information with you.
What Are Religious Confidence Tricksters?
Religious confidence tricksters are con men who defraud a person or a group of people by first gaining their confidence when they persuade you to believe that they are religious leaders. These conmen are so smart, and I think they’re well educated. They target mostly people in businesses, organisations and public offices. If you’re not careful or lucky, you can lose your money or assets.
Because of our secure online presence, fraudsters quickly get our contacts, and we have been tried several times in various ways. Luckily, we have been able to know, thanks to our experience and skill in identifying fraud.
Read This True Story of Religious Confidence Tricksters!
Recently, a ‘gentleman’ called me on the phone and introduced himself as Engineer Alex (Tel. No. +256-751-692 585). He had a three-storied building he had finished constructing for nuns at Namugongo Catholic Shrine. The nuns wanted some good company to put labels on the doors and asset tags on furniture. He told me that he got my contact on the internet and read through our business profile, he picked interest and wanted us to do the job.
He asked me to contact a nun by the name of Sr. Lillian (Tel: +256-787-658 161). I didn’t immediately contact this nun on the phone. It took me like 2 hours before I called her because I was busy with my customers’ work. But I had been convinced that it could be a good business for us.
After about 2 hours, I called ‘Sr. Lillian’, introduced myself to her and told her how I got her contacts through Eng. Alex. She welcomed me and told me that the building was ready, and what was remaining was putting labels and asset tags on the doors and furniture. She asked me to go to Namugongo the following day. I made an appointment to meet her at 3.00 pm.
The following day, before 3.00 pm, the so-called Sr. Lillian called me and asked me whether I was still on the programme as earlier agreed. I responded, yes. She then told me that she was supposed to come to Kampala to pick her drugs for high blood pressure from Mulago Hospital in the morning, but they had an abrupt meeting and she couldn’t. She asked me to help her to go to Dr Charles, pick the drugs and take them to her on my way to Namugongo. I agreed, and she gave me the doctor’s contact (Tel: +256-780-378 682).
What Happened Next?
Before 3.00 pm, I picked up my car, went to a petrol station to refill it. When I was at the petrol station, I called ‘Dr. Charles’ told me he was going to the theatre for an operation and I had to hurry. Before he hung up, he asked me whether Sr. Lillian had given me his balance for the drugs she had previously taken. I told him she didn’t tell me anything concerning money. All that she told me was to help her pick the medicine. The doctor then offered to speak to her first and get back to me shortly.
Before the doctor got back to me, the ‘nun’ called me and told me that there was a small balance that had remained, which the doctor wanted because he was travelling to Fort Portal in the evening. She asked me if I had money with me so that I could give it to the doctor and she refunds me when I go to Namugongo. When I asked her how much it was, she told me 300,000 Ugandan shillings. I told her that it wasn’t small money and I didn’t have it. I instead had 180,000 Ugandan shillings.
The ‘Reverend Sister’ spoke to the doctor to receive what I had, promising to send the balance later that same day. I went to Mulago with a friend of mine and parked the car at Mulago School of Public Health. I called the doctor who told me that he was in the theatre for an operation. He asked me to deposit the money on his mobile phone, and upon receiving it, he would send the drugs with a nurse to me.
What Did I Do Then?
I became hesitant and sceptical on hearing that suggestion. The friend with whom I was also told me not to do so. I asked the doctor to send the drugs to the nurse, and I give the money to her in exchange. The doctor hesitated, saying that they were not supposed to handle cash in a government hospital. Hmm! But do doctors speak on phones in the theatre while doing an operation?
When I called the nun, she also told me to look for a free money point and send the money to the doctor. I refused because something had come to my mind that they were probably religious confidence tricksters. “Why couldn’t the nun send that money to the doctor using mobile money since she seriously needed the drugs?”, I asked myself. Yes, she was in a meeting as she put it, but couldn’t she send someone to deposit the money on the doctor’s account?
While still contemplating, I did three things:
#1 – I asked some staff at Mulago hospital to find out whether they knew Dr Charles. They all didn’t know him.
#2 – I checked the registration of the phone numbers they were using. I discovered the following:
- The number ‘Sr. Lillian’ (Tel: +256-787-658 161) was using had the registration name of Shiphrah Asasiira, and I think Shiphrah is a Muslim name, not a Catholic.
- ‘Dr. Charles’ used the number with the registered name of Charles Kisembo (Tel: +256-780-378 682).
- ‘Eng. Alex’ used the mobile number with the registered name of Oscar Twebaze (Tel: 256-751-692 585)
#3 – I asked one of the nuns I knew at Namugongo Shrine to find out whether the so-called Sr. Lillian existed. I was shocked to hear that even the name Lillian is not in the Catholic Church. I didn’t know that.
On discovering all that information, I drove away with my friend, having wasted time with those useless people. Luckily, I didn’t fall prey to their trickery.
What Else Did I Discover?
First, they all spoke fluent English with a Kinyankole accent, meaning they had some reasonable level of education.
Secondly, they all had names from western Uganda, according to the registered names of the phones they were using.
Thirdly, they make you believe that each of them is in a different location while they are doing their fraud together in one place.
Fourthly, they’re so smart that each of them spoke professionally. The nun spoke like a grown-up Catholic Reverend Sister. The doctor and engineer spoke like a professional doctor and engineer, respectively.
Fifthly, they plan their game, and I think they could be having even had an office for that kind of work.
What Should You Do to Protect Yourself from Those Religious Confidence Tricksters?
Though it’s so hard to know the various tricks they use, there is something we can do to save ourselves from falling prey to such religious confidence tricksters. It is what I have in mind to share with you.
#1 – Always share with a friend about people claiming to bring business to you! Your friend can help you to smell out the fraud if you cannot.
#2 – Never go alone to meet people claiming to give business to you. Always move with someone because they can even kill you.
#3 – Do not rush into doing something. Give it time for you to get more useful clues and information.
Uganda is becoming a home to confidence tricksters. You have heard several young men spending significant sums of money in bars and driving posh cars. Most of them have conned people to get wealth. They con rich men abroad and locally. Be aware of them. They spend money they don’t earn through proper means.
If you’re concerned, please share this article with your friends and colleagues. Police, follow up on the three phone numbers of those people before it’s too late!