Mzuzu Police have arrested two teenage boys for allegedly producing fake documents which they used to swindle people out of their money amounting to K132, 700 by pretending to be orphans in need of secondary school fees.
One of the teenagers (names withheld for legal reasons) even managed to swindle Mzuzu Court’s Principal Resident Magistrate Gladys Gondwe out of her K5, 000.
Three months later, the 17-year-old boy approached Gondwe again begging for more. Apparently, he did not recognizing her. But Gondwe recognized him and became suspicious. She then tactfully arranged for his arrest.
Mzuzu Police deputy publicist Sergeant Patrick Saulosi confirmed on Friday that they arrested the boy on Tuesday.
“The suspect initially approached the magistrate on 15 October, 2014 at Mzuzu Shoprite and presented to her two signed documents to the effect that he was soliciting money to pay school fees at Likuni Private Secondary School in Lilongwe,” Sergeant Saulosi said.
The documents were letters allegedly from the school and Lilongwe District Council.
Saulosi said the boy told Gondwe that school fees was K70, 000 but had a shortfall of K5, 000.
“The magistrate gave him the K5, 000 and he promised her that he would go back to school immediately.”
He added that on 26 January, 2015, Gondwe was at Mzuzu Shoprite again and she saw the boy approaching her with some signed documents.
“This time around, he claimed that he had a shortfall of K60, 000. She recognized him and became suspicious. She advised him to meet her the following day. When he called the following day, she went with a police officer who arrested him,” Saulosi said.
He added that a day later, the boy was visited at the police custody by a colleague, 16, who carried a bag and looked suspicious.
“When we searched the bag, we found similar forged letters. We arrested him, too,” Saulosi said.
Attached to the forged letters were tabulated sheets of paper with people’s names, date and amount of money donated plus the donors’ signatures.
According to Saulosi, the 17-year-old collected money amounting to K84, 700 while the 16-year-old accumulated K48, 000 between 15 October, 2014 and 27 January, 2015.
He said the two have been charged with making false documents contrary to section 353 (d) of the Penal Code.
Likuni Private Secondary School Principal Director Huxley Kamkwamba confirmed in an interview that the letters were forged.
Kamkwamba bemoaned that a syndicate of conmen was using the name of his school to defraud people. He disclosed that on several occasions visitors came to pay fees or give pocket money to students that did not exist at the school.
“One man came from Mzuzu Carlsberg and left K3, 000 as pocket money for a student whom we later discovered did not exist. We called the person to come back and get his money,” he said.
Gondwe said during her first encounter with the boy, she was in a hurry in that she could hardly scrutinize the documents before giving him the K5, 000.
She explained that apart from the letters, the boy also showed her a school report with “flowery grades indicating that he was bright; he also produced the school’s student Identity Card bearing his name and photograph”.
“It is last Monday, 26 January, that I became suspicious. He didn’t recognize me so I asked him questions, scrutinized the documents and realized that he wasn’t honest,” she said.
Gondwe then said it is unfortunate that while there are many orphans in Malawi in need of assistance, some people pretend to be orphans to defraud unsuspecting well-wishers. She said this could discourage those who have a heart to help the genuine needy orphans.
“We all know there are so many orphaned children in the country who need assistance. Sometimes you just get moved to assist. But with this incident, I don’t think I can be willing to assist if approached…,” Gondwe said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :