Moses January Banda alias Farai Mashiri is one of Zimbabwe's most-sought-after fraudster on the Serious Fraud list.
By 2014 he was wanted in connection with over 10 cases of fraud mainly involving cybercrime. Police believe that he has pounced on over 30 victims in Zimbabwe since 2008. After duping an unsuspecting victim, Banda usually walks away with amounts ranging between US$20 000 and US$50 000.
Banda has also conned several people by pretending to sell residential stands. Armed with fake identity particulars, Banda uses his same tactics and over the years he has been targeting unsuspecting victims in both South Africa and Zimbabwe, particularly in the Matabeleland and Bulawayo provinces.
In one case in 2016, businessman Tendai Ishe Taruvinga, who is into commodity broking, was reportedly duped of nearly US$100 000 by suspected con-artists, including Banda in a botched stationery deal.
Four alleged accomplices — Thandiwe Catherine Chisoro, Tafadzwa Mazhazhate, Sunungurai Chinhango and Stanely Nyamasoka — were arrested and appeared in court facing fraud charges, but as usual, Banda was missing.
Taruvinga, who at the time was the owner of Razar Communications, was looking for stationery, spices and gases from off-shore companies and was referred to Farai Mashiri, allegedly alias Moses Banda, who said he was based in South Africa and so Taruvinga said he would pay in South Africa.
Banda is said to have told Taruvinga that he could also deliver the commodities to Zimbabwe from South Africa before referring to Thandiwe Chisoro.
Thandiwe is also alleged to have told Taruvinga that he would receive proof of payment from Banda who was in South Africa.
Banda is said to have sent Taruvinga fake payment vouchers as proof of payment for the spices and said the spices were en-route to Zimbabwe.
Armed with the fake proof of payment, Thandiwe is alleged to have approached Taruvinga at his offices and collected US$30 000 as payment for the delivery of the spices.
On January 3 2017, Taruvinga is also said to have requested the supplies of gas from Banda.
The court heard that on the same day, Mashiri forwarded another fake proof of payment to Taruvinga purporting that he had paid for the product. On the same day, Thandiwe is said to have approached Taruvinga at his offices and collected US$30 000.
On January 4 Mashiri forwarded another fake proof of payment purporting that he paid for stationery worth US$33 000 on behalf of Taruvinga. He also indicated that the stationery was en-route to Zimbabwe.
Thandiwe is also said to have approached Taruvinga at his offices with the intention to collect US$33 000 which they said had been paid for stationery.
But Taruvinga paid part of the money and asked her to return on January 9 2017 to collect the balance. Taruvinga did not receive all the products he had paid for on agreed dates which raised his suspicion.
On January 9 2017 Thandiwe approached Taruvinga with the intention to collect the remaining US$14 500 but was arrested after she failed to account for the products and the money.
Thandiwe is said to have implicated Mazhazhate, Chinhango and Nyamasoka.
Lawyers representing Banda issued a statement saying their client had no pending cases in court and denied allegations that he was a habitual criminal who has been on the police wanted list since 2008 for multiple fraud cases.
Mr Luckymore Mauwa of Mauwa and Associates Legal Practitioners said Banda was a law-abiding citizen, who does not “even have any pending case before the courts”.
Mr Mauwa said the reports on his client depended on the information, which comes from implication by another person who has “just thrown our client’s name just to soil his name and reputation”.
Between March 13 and 14 2021, Banda surrendered himself to police and appeared in court on March 15, 2021, distancing himself from the offence saying his hands were clean.
Through lawyer Mr Luck Mawuwa, January told the court during his bail application that he had no links to Ronald Mudzingwa, Tonderai Salesio Chagweda and Tatenda Wellington Jombe, who were arrested in connection with the fraud and remanded to April 9 on $50 000 bail each.
- Top 12 fraudster profile, The Sunday Mail, Published: June 1, 2014, Retrieved: March 13, 2021
- Freeman Razemba, TM Pick n Pay $22m fraud mastermind a habitual criminal, The Herald, Published: March 13, 2021, Retrieved: March 13, 2021
- Businessman duped, H-Metro, Published: January 23, 2017, Retrieved: March 13, 2021
- Fidelis Munyoro, Hackers fleece supermarket of $22m, The Herald, Published: March 11, 2021, Retrieved: March 13, 2021
- $22m fraud: Lawyers speak on alleged mastermind, The Herald, Published: March 15, 2021, Retrieved: March 18, 2021
- Nyore Madzianike, $22m scam suspect surrenders, Nehanda Radio, Published: March 16, 2021, Retrieved: March 24, 2021