Cases of gold fraud have increased by over 200 percent in less than a year. At least 65 cases of gold fraud have been reported between April 2017 and March 2018 from 21 between April 2016 and March 2017.
Gold fraud is the most common economic fraud being investigated currently by the Police Force. Statistics from the General Crimes and Economic crimes division of the Criminal Investigations Directorate shows that most gold fraud cases result from obtaining money by false pretense and selling fake gold. At least 83 suspects have been arrested in connection to the 65 cases reported in the past one year.
Some of the suspects were charged with obtaining money by false pretense, forgery and impersonation while others are out on police bond as investigations are still ongoing. Vincent Ssekate, the Police Spokesperson in charge of Criminal Investigations, attributes the increase in gold fraud cases on foreign buyers who evade procedures to buy and transport the gold.
One requires a license from the Minerals Department from the Energy and Minerals Development to buy, sell and transport gold. The cost of the license and taxes involved is the main resort buyers opt for middlemen who even up conning them.
Uganda has become prominent for gold trade because of its proximity to DRC as well as its small mines in Mubende, Karamoja and Busoga region. Prior to 2013, buyers would travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to buy gold cheaply.
However, many of them have resorted to middlemen because of the insecurity in the country and the ban on gold there that is believed to be fueling and financing ethnic conflicts.
Ssekate says, it is this that con-men and fraudsters have taken advantage of to hoodwink buyers into dealing with unlicensed persons some of whom pretend to be or connive with Congolese nationals.
“Most of these people are being deceived by con-men that there is a lot of cheap gold in Uganda. They end up convincing them, showing them fake documents and selling to them fake gold,” Ssekate said. Police has since established a Mineral protection Unit, which is in charge of protecting mineral sites and help foreign buyers to vet mineral dealers.
An office has already been set up at Entebbe airport to help guide and advice foreigners and Ugandan Nationals on the Mineral industry and how to avoid being defrauded.