Firms Lose $1,5m, Us$36k to Fraudsters

A syndicate defrauding businesspeople purporting to have off-shore free-funds and could pay for imports has been busted.

Director of Sedcom (Pvt) Ltd Munyaradzi Paraiwa, who is believed to be part of the syndicate, was arrested and taken to court after he and his company allegedly swindled Groupview Technologies (Pvt) Lt of US$36 000, Flowshawn Investment of $114 000 and Sitaz Health Care and Light Flame Investment of $1 363 538 in fake payment scams.

Paraiwa appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court jointly charged with his company, Sedcom Marketing (Pvt) Ltd, on three counts of fraud.

The 41-year-old and his company were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before magistrate Richard Ramaboa who remanded Paraiwa to June 9 on $1 000 bail.

Detailing the charges, all arising from last year, the State said on February 7, 2019, Malvern Mick Mackenzie wanted to pay his South African suppliers for till rolls and bond paper.

Paraiwa, who got wind of the transaction, called Mackenzie and introduced himself as Munyaradzi Mpofu and said he could make payments in South Africa in return for a local currency payment into his Zimbabwean account.

The State alleges that Paraiwa forwarded a fake proof of payment to Mackenzie purporting to have paid money to the South African suppliers and asking for a deposit into his CABS account.

On the same day, Mackenzie deposited US$36 000 into Sedcom Marketing (Pvt) Ltd account, but on February 11 he was told by his suppliers that no payment was made.

The same month, Flowshawn Investments, which provides catering services, wanted to buy groceries from South Africa and was referred to Paraiwa who said he could pay the required sums in South Africa and be reimbursed in Zimbabwe.

They agreed that Paraiwa, who again passed himself as Munyaradzi Mpofu, would pay R518 181 and on February 19 Paraiwa gave the director of Flowshawn Investment details of Sedcom Marketing’s Cabs account.

The court heard that Flowshawn deposited $114 000 and then Paraiwa forwarded an allegedly fake proof of payment purporting that he had paid R276 577 to NGL Attorneys in South Africa.

Upon enquiry, NGL Attorneys denied ever receiving payment from Paraiwa and his company.

The next sting, on November 26 last year, allegedly had Paraiwa approaching Zvakataurwa Makoto saying he could purchase a JCB TLB tractor on his behalf from South Africa.

Makoto is the director of Sitaz Health CARE and Light Flame Investment.

The court heard that Paraiwa gave Makoto contacts of his South African friend George Lebese, who also said he could make a payment on his behalf.

On November 28, Makoto received a fake proof of payment from Lebese saying he had paid R953 925 and on the following day he received an email from JCB suppliers confirming that they had received R923 925.

The court heard that Makoto then transferred $1 363 538,61 into Dr Hammington and Associates’ local account, which had been given to him by Lebese.

On December 2, 2019 Makoto received a WhatsApp message from the tractor supplier saying the payment had been reversed since Lebese had deposited a fake cheque.

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