By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA-SHIFTMEDIA- Desperate times call for desperate measures, so they say. When Covid 19 pandemic struck in 2020, many things changed, scores of Ugandans became jobless, prompting them to seek desperate means of survival.
The “sharp” ones took advantage of the desperate and jobless souls to fleece whatever remained out of them. The desperate souls also sought desperate measures to try to earn an extra shilling from whatever remained in their pockets or bank accounts.
Others went for quick loans from either the banks or SACCOs to try to catch up with lost cash. These are the unlucky ones who landed on the teeth of sharp sharks that sent them to the gutters of extreme poverty.
One such victim is Kato Misaki an office administrator at International Hospital in Kampala (IHK). Kato who reached out to us to help expose the mafias had sought endless help from police, Parliament of Uganda, Office of the Inspectorate of Government and Minister for Education, and First Lady Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni.
Kato was fleeced by the ‘mafias’ into joining the Cryptocurrencies.
In 2018 he was lured into joining the Onecoin crypto currency network. After he was promised huge earnings within a short time, Kato went to his bank and secured a loan. He parted with shs9m after purchasing 3,000 OneCoin coins.
A quick search indicated that the OneCoin Uganda agent, operating a Pio Crypto Center, is a one Fred Ntabazi. The receipts signed by Ntabazi indicated that Kato had paid over shs5m in a spate of just three months.
OneCoin we confirmed had offices at Padre Pio House on plot 38 Lumumba Avenue in Kampala. Though the receipts had these telephone contacts, 0776711952/0754503015, the numbers were often switched off, and once on, nobody would pick when we tried to call for comment.
They later changed their offices to Mukwano Courts along Buganda Road.
Using our inner security details, we managed to track the man behind this racket, Fred Ntabazi. We later found that accessing him was a hard nut to crack since he had soldiers guarding him 24/7. He has since opened up the One Light International Ministries Uganda where he acts as Bishop and pastor.
Fred Ntabazi is not new to scandals. The observer also reported how the self-styled con pastor fleeced Ugandans of billions.
We later established that Ntabazi has the backing of top NRM Cabinet Ministers (Names withheld). “Whenever clients report to police, Ntabazi calls these wealthy and powerful ministers who call top police bosses to have the case closed,” said one fleeced client.
Kato and scores of other Ugandans are crying foul after losing millions of shillings to this crypto currency scum.
BOU Warned Ugandans
In 2017 the Central Bank issued stern warnings to Ugandans to desist from joining digital currency such as Onecoin.
The East African reported how the central bank also warned against the use of other digital currencies including Bitcoin, Ripple, Namecoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Bytecoin, Primecoin, and Blackcoin.
OneCoin Founder Vanishes
We dug deeper and ascertained that the OneCoin founder and Crypto Queen, Ruja Ignatova is wanted by the FBI for one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency frauds. (wsj.com/articles/)
The story of OneCoin stands out even among the outlandish capers of the cryptocurrency era. The Justice Department said OneCoin accounts show it took in some $4 billion from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2016, sucking in investors from Africa to the U.S., Venezuela to China.
Today, Ms. Ignatova is nowhere to be found. Her OneCoin co-founder, Sebastian Greenwood, is in a U.S. jail awaiting trial on fraud charges, and Mark Scott, a lawyer who worked for OneCoin, has been convicted in federal court of laundering $400 million. Her brother, Konstantin Ignatov, who became OneCoin’s public face after she vanished, is in U.S. custody after striking a deal to plead guilty to fraud and other charges. He’s awaiting sentencing this fall.
OneCoin’s original website has shut down and its leaders couldn’t be reached for comment, but some sellers continue to market coins, including Ntabazi who now operates underground.
Ruja Ignatova, a 40-year-old Bulgarian, started OneCoin in 2014 with Mr. Greenwood. Unlike more established cryptocurrencies, OneCoin wasn’t actively traded. The coins couldn’t be used to buy anything. Their price was determined solely by Ms. Ignatova, who promised big financial rewards.
After realizing things weren’t working out with OneCoin. Kato didn’t give up, he was again lured into joining another fake crypto currency CenturyTrade by a Gulu University Lecture, Prof. Olwoch Owich Celsius.
Kato went to Housing Finance Bank and secured another shs9m loan in 2019. “I was promised huge profits by Prof Olwoch. I went to Housing Finance Bank withdrew shs3.8 (USD1,000) as an initial deposit and paid him cash during Covid 19 lockdown,” said Kato who is now debt-ridden.
He said as time went, he kept on topping up cash, that was in dollars. “I paid all these monies totaling to over shs9m to Prof. Olwoch in cash. He didn’t give me any receipts. I realized I was fleeced after their website was shut down and all their phones were off,” said Kato.
The CenturyTrading.co.uk website is apparently switched off. But the brochures that Kato and other clients titled Century Trade Investment Plans had two contact numbers (+256 772517488 & +256772681753).
We established from MTN that those two numbers are registered under the names of Christine Olwoch Lakop (wife to Prof Olwoch) and Olwoch Owich Celsius.
Prof Olwoch responds
When we called Christine Lakop, she declined to pick. Prof Olwoch who was busy teaching at Gulu University said he was aware of Century Trade. “Yes, I am aware. I know Mr. Kato, he works with IHK. It is true he paid me over shs8m. he was introduced into the scheme by a doctor at IHK,” said the Don.
He said that he like other clients of Century Trade was also fleeced millions of shillings. “We all lost money. In fact Mr. Kato might have lost just shs9m, I lost more. The company shut down its website that we were using to trade. Kato bought some shares from my stock,”. “It is a shine, just like how any digital currency works. Kato was due to start earning after some period, but it is unfortunate the company closed before he begun earning,” said the don who works at the Gulu University Academic Registrars Department.
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