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Makerere University ‘fresher’ loses Sh2m to conman


One of the Makerere university ceilings, where one of the thugs was found hiding after breaking in to steal laptops. PHOTO URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Police at Makerere University are hunting for a fraudster who disappeared with Sh2 million belonging to a new student (fresher), who gave it to him after he offered to miraculously double it. It was the student’s tuition fees.

Campus police have also revealed that are registering at least two cases a week involving unscrupulous persons operating within the university premises who are targeting new students, fleeceing them of their money.

Reports from the University police indicate that fraudsters operating within the university, being very conversant with the university systems and processes, have been targeting new students whom they defraud since the resumption of studies.

A police officer  who preferred  anonymity said the university police have registered more than five incidents of the nature, mostly from fresh students being conned by unknown people either by claiming to be helping them in banking issues or by befriending them and later defrauding  through job offer scams and other tricks.
When they see you that you’re new here trying to get around in the university, they immediately approach you and befriend you trying to help or even offering some job and later they take your money,” said an officer. “They have virtually one script they are using and we have been receiving such complaints at least twice a week.”

According to the officer, some students who have fallen prey decide not to report for fear of being exposed.

“Recently one student was conned by the a scammer of about 2 million with a promise of doubling the tuition money and now the fraudster has disappeared, and we’re still hunting him, but other are not reporting to us,” said the officer.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said they are still trying to  have such criminals arrested because they know all the university systems and processes around.

He cautions students to be aware of such people who include former students who have remained hiding in and around hostels when their main job is conning.

But apart from alleged fraudsters, students said there also cases of burglaries within their residences and many students have lost properties including money to the burglars.

Ezra Byakutangaza, the acting guild speaker of Makerere University said it is unfortunate that the con men and thugs have increased within the university during this period when new students have just reported to the campus.

He said apart from people conning freshers, there are also burglars who break into some hostels within the university campus and yet the security within the University seems not to be able to curb the criminality.

“I am calling upon new students to use their unit leadership, college leadership and class representatives, as students leadership we have started mobilizing students to be aware of scammers and we have informed the university administration, hopefully some measures will be put in place,” said Byakutangaza.

The latest incident happened on Friday when a man was arrested for vandalism and stealing seven laptops.

Police said the suspect, Dembe Dumba, was caught red-handed in the ceiling board of the School of Forestry where he was hiding after stealing laptops and other gadgets.
Onyango said the arrest happened following a search conducted after complaints of missing laptops and other gadgets by students.

Onyango explains that police has since decided to beef-up security within the University premises, and some residence hostels where cases of burglary have been reported.



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