October 1, 2022

A suspected rolling stone operative is in custody helping the police in their investigation.
The suspected criminal, name withheld, is an agent representing a Nigerian fraudster residing in South Africa. The detailed agent runs a counterfeit financial institution called Rolling Point Network Ltd., which is situated at 36 Lamina Sankoh Street in Freetown.
Another parallel institution, known as Wealthy Gate Solution Company, is also operated by an unknown gang of fraudsters. The office is located at 18 ECOWAS Street. These unlawful financial institutions have been up and running for two months. Members of the public have been brainwashed into depositing their hard earned cash into these shadow financial institutions with bogus assurances of fabulous interest.
As the two financial institutions operate in the dark, personnel of the Anti Fraud Unit in Sierra Leone, acting on a tip-off, went into action. Their action yield dividends as the main official is in Police net and Le96,000,000 (ninety-six million leones) has been recovered. This is stolen money.
Head of Police Media, Superintendent Brima Kamara, told the nightwatch that the two financial institutions: Rolling Point Network Ltd. and Wealth Gate Solution Company, have never made their presence known to the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), which is the only regulator for all financial institutions, including Commercial Banks, in the country. This illegal existence implies that the two financial institutions did not go through legally accepted procedures to operate in the country.
As the other fraudsters are on the run, the police spokesman is quite confident that they would be brought to justice. “We are working hard to bring them to book,” the police media head emphasised.
The BSC seriously frowns at the actions of the foreign fraudsters who had nurtured an intention to stash dirty cash abroad. In this vein, senior BSL officials, in conjunction with police high command, hosted a press briefing at Police Headquarters last week. During the briefing, the country’s financial institutions regulator dissociated from the fraudulent activities or these criminal gangs. BSL issued a press release dated 10/4/19 condemning the unlawful financial institutions.
In the opening paragraph of the press release, BSL informs the public that it has never issued a licence to the two financial institutions, meaning they should not operate in the country. It therefore warns the public not to do business with them by way of depositing their moneys into the institutions’ accounts for the purpose of investing or trade with them in the form of crypto assets – an on-line business. BSL makes specific reference to another illegal financial institution known as Bit Coin, which is also operating in Sierra Leone as it warns the said institutions to halt their existence.
As the country’s finance regulator, BSL works the relevant laws on which it relies to adopt punitive measures against them should they continue their illegal activities.
“The Banking Act 201 provides that no person shall engage in banking business, take deposits or issue financial products to the general public unless that person holds a valid licence issued by the Bank of Sierra Leone,” the press release reads in part.
The document further specifies that any person who contravenes the provisions of the said Acts commits an offence, and is liable upon conviction to a fine and/or imprisonment.
In spite of the existence of these laws, that prohibit such fraudulent activities in Sierra Leone, foreign fraudsters still view the country as a convenient landing place. Their methods (modus operandi) are extreme and their message is compelling.
Few years back, another fraudulent business institution, known as “WEALTH BUILDERS,” was in Sierra Leone conducting illegal financial transactions with Sierra Leoneans. The entity offered the public lofty interest rates on a quarterly basis.
Initially, they delivered what they promised. The message of their success stories of wealth creation spread wide like a whirlwind. Thousands of Sierra Leoneans joined the wealth syndicate. Others emptied their accounts held in various commercial banks across the country and deposited their money with WEALTH BUILDERS. The agency was hailed as trailblazer in the world of banking.
Many Sierra Leoneans hoped for prosperity at the inception of the wealth builders business. But this hope was dashed as the fabulous interest rate was discovered to be a ‘Trojan Horse’. The interest rate was a big trap that many Sierra Leoneans, interested in the fraudsters, stashed away billions of leones from the country.
The illegal business venture left many Sierra Leoneans in a state of abject poverty. Some were plugged into perpetual debtors. Women lost their marital homes as they fled to hideouts escaping police raids as the money they deposited with the “WEALTH BUILDERS” was not theirs. Even civil servants, especially teachers, fell prey to this organized crime syndicate. Businesses stalled and closed permanently. Livelihoods across the country became a serious problem. This situation became a terrible blow to the economy. Out of rage, the Sierra Leonean victims pointed accusing fingers at the government as they suspected a syndicate between the then government and the foreign fraudsters.
As if to clear its name, the past government sued the head of Wealth Builders.
The trial went on but ended prematurely. No one was convicted and no one was compensated. The victims wept and wailed as they swallowed the bitter pill.
Similar to the WEALTH Builders’ fraudulent act was a fake Ghanaian investor. He was at Monghere Town, the chiefdom headquarter town of Valunia chiefdom in Bo district.
It is approximately 27 kilometers north of Bo. The fake fraudster, few years back, visited the said town with a thrilling paper project. He identified himself as a Ghanaian traditional ruler, a chief precisely. He was clad in a ‘kente’ cloth and convinced the local residents to register with his project. Each local resident should pay the sum of Le5,000 (five thousand leones), a valuable sum at that time. The people turned up in their hundreds and registered as directed.
The project was meant to supply the cash-strapped formers with bags of imported pepper seeds and bags of fertilizer for cultivation. Both pepper seeds and fertilizers would be their seed money, which would also be provided for the rigorous agricultural activities. During harvesting, Ghanaian companies would buy the harvested pepper from them in large sums of money. These farmers, according to the assurance of the fake Ghana chief, would be removed from a background of abject poverty to decent living. This is good news for the poor farmers who fall prey to another ‘Trojan horse’.
As these organized crime syndicates continue, many rogues have worn the regalia of local and international non-governmental workers and extorted moneys from Sierra Leoneans, especially those in the rural areas. These occurrences constitute an appalling imagery.
THE NEED TO STRENGTHEN THE INTELLIGENCE NETWORK
The Sierra Leone Police, by all indications, can take pride in very fine investigators in the face of resource constraint. They have proved effective in discovering clandestine and organized criminal activities. However, a strong intelligence network must be established or improved upon. The Bank of Sierra Leone, commercial banks and other financial institutions must be brought on board. Security operatives at the border communities must be reoriented towards these syndicates. The local Policing Partnership Board members must be trained on these crimes. Sensitization of the masses, using conventional, social and traditional media channels could be utilized. This methodology hopefully would create a turn around.
Isatu Kamara, one of the victims of the crime syndicates, says she would not forgive the fraudsters as her life has been made disastrous by the fraudsters.