Malawi is facing social-economic hardships and some have found a loophole to exploit unsuspecting people in dire need.
This is the case of 34 year old Charles Kadzombe who has been sentenced to two and half years imprisonment with hard labour for impersonating National Economic Empowerment Fund Limited staff.
The Domasi Magistrate Court in Zomba convicted Kadzombe for masquerading as NEEF staff and soliciting money to help people get loans.
Kadzombe had been parading himself as a NEEF Loan officer recruiting clients to receive loans from the Fund and duping unsuspecting masses in the process in Machinga, Balaka, Ntcheu, and some districts in the Eastern region.
The conman was exposed after a stakeholders engagement in Zomba revealed his under-dealings were exposed.
Councilor for Zomba Malosa ward Philip Mapira tipped the Fund that the loan officer who was introduced at the stakeholders meeting as responsible for his ward was not the one he knew to be recruiting clients for the loan in the area.
The Fund launched a manhunt for the conman with Domasi Police and arrested Kadzombe while soliciting money from undercover agents on the pretext that he will process their loan applications.
It also transpired during the encounter that the impostor cloned NEEF staff identity card for himself to legitimise his deceit in the eyes of the unsuspecting masses and introduced himself as a loan officer for Machinga Likwenu Constituency.
This is where plain-clothed police officers invaded the scene, arrested Kadzombe, and brought him before Domasi Magistrate Court on 19th and 20th July 2022.
It also emerged that he had been duping clients from his home district of Balaka by using the NEEF brand.
Magistrate Elick Nchodza convicted him of two counts, obtaining money under false pretenses and impersonating a public servant and sentenced him on 5th August 2022 to 30 months imprisonment with hardboard.
Kadzombe has been committed to Domasi Prison where he will serve his jail term.
NEEF’s Chief Executive Officer Humphrey Mdyetseni deplored all forms of fraud and commits that the Fund will take all measures to ensure the loan application process is corrupt-free so that poor and under-served Malawians have access to the loans.
“NEEF is therefore warning the general public against such people and reminding the public that the Fund does not operate through any agents, middlemen, or third parties. Client recruitment is done by NEEF’s loan officers through the VDCs and ADCs.
“The National Economic Empowerment Fund Limited is a protected name and as such, it is an offence for anyone to be using it without the express consent of the Management.
"Worse still, extorting money from unsuspecting members of the public under the pretext of loans is a typical case of robbery that is punishable by law,” Mdyetseni said.
Mdyetseni implored on people to report any self-proclaimed loan officer soliciting money to help people get the loans.