- Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 0830 EAT on Friday 29 April 2022.
Thousands of unsuspecting Ugandans are counting losses after losing huge sums of money to online fraudsters masquerading as international business agents trading under chargeanytime.net purportedly from Malaysia.
The victims of the dubious business were lured into investing various sums of money through the various mobile money platform with the virtual company promising earnings up to about 35 per cent in daily interest rates running for 60 days.
The clients, who are mainly in urban centers across the country include; businessmen and women, security officers, teachers and mobile money agents among others who would invest between Shs 20,000 and Shs 20 million through mobile money platforms before customized accounts would be created for them.
According to the victims, when the business had just started in March this year, the clients would withdraw at most 80 per cent of their accumulated proceeds and earn a commission when they attract more clients onto the platform.
Franklin Jjingo, who lost Shs 3 million to the scam says that they woke up on Monday this week when the financial withdraws had been suspended before the online platform was completely closed down on Wednesday.
“We could directly communicate with the company directors through WhatsApp and Telegram channels. These would assure us that their business was not similar to other scams we have had before. But apparently, none of these people is accessible through any channels,” he said.
Besides one of the foreign directors only identified as Bart, Ddumba explains that the company also had recruited local business coordinators who would lure and recruit clients to invest on the platform.
“I also informed several colleagues about this business who also joined, after seeing me withdrawing the profits,” Jjingo adds.
Patrick Sseremba, another unsuspecting client, who operates an electronic shop in Masaka town, says that he invested Shs 5 million with promises that he would recoup the in the initial 10 days, and accordingly continue earning profits. He says, before the platform closed on Monday, he had only recovered Shs 640,000.
“The guidelines were that you withdraw once in a day, and money would directly come to our mobile money accounts,” he indicates.
Upon inquiring from the company’s foreign director, Sseremba says that he was informed that the ministry of Finance had ordered the company to suspend withdrawals until it studies its operations. According to the message the company sent out to the victims, at least 10,000 Ugandans had registered on its platform since March 29th this year and over a billion shillings had been collected from people’s financial recharges.
“…starting the initiative, we had a mission of giving financial growth to several individuals through online investment. Our efforts will go down in history as successful as we had so far gone 50% of our goals of empowering our clients. Bur for now, we apologize for the surprise suspension of our services from the country. We were informed by the government and summoned by the ministry of Finance to appear forth on matters concerning our operations, our legal team is working hand in hand with the government of Uganda to resolve the matter,” reads part of the message sent out to the victims from an apparently blocked WhatsApp contact using a Malaysian phone code +60.
Jim Mugunga, the senior public relations officer in the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Monitoring told URN on Thursday that he was ignorant about the company operations in Uganda and the alleged summons.
“We do not have any engagements with those people at the ministry, and I can’t tell how they are operating because the company name is so novel to me,” he said.
A police officer at Masaka central police station who preferred not to be named confessed that he also lost Shs 800,000 to that scam in anticipation that he would use it to raise school fees for his children.
He said they are now hunting for Samir Ajiga, the local company coordinator in the area, who introduced them to the business. He has since switched off his phone lines and his whereabouts remain unknown.
“Many people here had joined and they are now silently suffering not knowing what to do next, but when we get this man we shall task him to produce his bosses,” the officer noted.
Ugandans are not new to online scammers. The most recent happened in February this year when close to 15,000 in the greater northern region lost an estimated Shs 10 billion in dubious forex trade in three months.