Police in Chuka, Tharaka Nithi County have arrested a key suspect in the fake money business who claims to have Sh28 million stolen from al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Addressing journalists at Chuka Police Station on Tuesday evening, David Ngondi, the Meru South Sub-County Police Commander, said Lawrence Mugendi is believed to a ringleader of a gang involved in the fake money business, popularly known as "wash wash".
“The arrest of the suspect is a major breakthrough in the fight against money laundering not only in Tharaka Nithi County but also in the neighbouring counties where they circulate the fake money,” said Mr Ngondi.
He said that the suspect is also believed to be operating from Thika town in Kiambu County and other towns in the country.
Mr Ngondi said apart from circulating the fake money, Mr Kiragu approaches non-suspecting members of the public, mostly on social media, and after becoming friends with them, requests to meet with them so that he can introduce to them to a very profitable business.
On meeting, Mr Ngondi said, Mugendi presents to them Sh28 million in fake notes and asks them to partner in buying a chemical solution that once applied would authenticate the notes.
It is said that Mr Mugendi tells them that he stole the Kenyan money from al-Shabaab in Somali in 2018 before it was completely processed and that the only challenge he has is money for buying a cleaning chemical solution.
The officer added that after getting convinced, the “business partner” gives money to buy the chemical, only for the criminals to cut communication.
“Upon the news of the suspect’s arrest, two people have reported having been conned Sh870,000,” said Mr Ngondi.
He said a man from Meru town reported through a phone call to have been conned out of Sh700,000 by the suspect and another one from Chuka town said they had lost Sh170,000 to him.
Mr Ngondi said the illegal business has been a big challenge in the region.
He called on any other person who had ever been conned by the suspect or another person through such deals to come out.
He also warned the public against falling into such criminal traps in quest for quick wealth.
Cases of fake money are rampant in the region and many people have been arrested and prosecuted for engaging in the business.