By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Turks are among the many foreign nationals being deceived by gold scamming syndicates in Kenya, the Turkish embassy in Nairobi said Friday.
The latest incident, involving a Turkish citizen losing close to $600,000, has been confirmed by the Kenyan government and resulted in numerous arrests.
In another case two months ago, a Turkish businessman living in South Africa applied to the embassy in Nairobi for verification before entering a business transaction with a man involving gold.
The embassy was able to establish that he was a con artist and advised him not to deal with him. He found the deal too appealing, however, and ended up incurring a huge loss.
More recently, authorities arrested Kenyan millionaire Jared Kiasa Otieno, who was detained by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and released on a cash bail of $15,000 after spending five days in jail with his and other suspects' passports seized.
Together with 15 others, Jared was accused of defrauding a foreigner of 300 million Kenyan shillings (US$3 million).
“We have linked many scamming cases to this individual. I am sure Turkish citizens were also victims, and we have some cases with us,” said a source with the Kenyan police who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.
Otieno is also facing another court case where he is accused of defrauding a foreigner of 23 million shillings (around $222,000) between May and June this year. This comes just after he was acquitted in May of defrauding two South Africans of $169,000 due to a lack of evidence.
Kenya’s leading Daily Nation newspaper also reported on the scamming of Muhammet Mertoglu, a Turkish citizen.
“Mertoglu, who has all but lost hope of ever getting justice for the loss of his money, told the Sunday Nation that the lack of a key witness appearing in court is part of a ploy to make sure the case fails,” it said.
The number of conned foreigners has risen sharply despite Kenya not being a significant gold exporting or producing country.
The DCI is urging embassies to caution their nationals against coming to Kenya for any gold related business.
The Turkish Embassy has advised its nationals to be careful about the scammers and has sent out messages informing Turkish citizens to be cautious about any “gold” business they may wish to conduct with unknown people in Kenya.
Embassy officials continuously urge Turks wishing to purchase gold to either go through Kenyan government authorities directly or the Turkish Embassy, Kenya’s Ministry of Mining, the Kenya Chamber of Mines or all three where possible.
According to local media, the gold a victim sees and the gold that is repacked by the scammers is different. The scammers are known to repackage fake gold and call the police on the victims. Dealing in fake gold is punishable under Kenyan law, so the victims are spooked and hurriedly leave the country.
Experience shows there is no chance of the victims getting their money back in such scams in a complex triangle spread out across Africa but mainly in Ghana and Sierra Leone.
- Business relations with Turkey growing
Despite this, Turkish Embassy officials consider the business environment in Kenya promising. Kenya and Turkey boast good business relations and Turkish businesses in Kenya are flourishing and growing in number.
In March this year, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly hosted a trade and investment forum in Nairobi to boost economic ties.
In a statement, KEPSA noted that the Turkish Embassy in Nairobi and KEPSA have continued to work together to grow trade and investment between the two countries.
Trade between Kenya and Turkey last year totaled around $220 million, according to statements from both countries. A higher trade volume is expected for 2019.