TM Pick n Pay $22m fraud masterminds were on the police wanted list since 2008. Police are anxious to interview Banda, and his sidekick Ronald Mudzingwa. Two other alleged accomplices inside TM Pick n Pay, Tonderai Selesio Chagweda (28) and Wellington Jombe (34), who were arrested were brought to court on Thursday. They were granted bail of $50 000 each yesterday. The suspected mastermind behind the $22 million fraud at TM Pick n Pay through its account at Steward Bank, Moses January Banda, has been on police wanted list since 2008 for multiple fraud cases but has continually slipped away although his alleged accomplices, as in the present case, frequently end up in handcuffs and in court.
Chagweda and Jombe were facing fraud charges when they appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Richard Mangosi who granted them bail after finding that there was no risk that they could interfere in investigations.
Details started to emerge during the remand hearing. The court heard that Chagweda and Jombe, working with Ronald Mudzingwa and Moses Banda, created a fake email address raymondmatsetswa@Tm/supermarkets.com to pass themselves off as TM Pick n Pay finance manager Mr Raymond Matsetswa and as Mr Gamuchirai Nyamuzinga, the chief finance officer.
It is alleged that Chagweda and Jombe sent an email to Steward Bank with the needed instruction forms signed with the forged signatures of Mr Matsetswa and Mr Nyamuzinga that ordered Steward to process four payments and debit TM Pick n Pay a total of $22 million.
The bank, listed as the complainant, did not notice the difference between the fake and real email addresses, so authorised and processed the transaction. On March 3, TM Pick n Pay head office disputed some of the transactions on their account and the whole fraud started to unravel.
By 2014, Banda was wanted in connection with over 30 cases of fraud mainly involving cybercrimes with police reckoning he may have hit 50 people since 2008. After duping an unsuspecting victim, Banda allegedly walks or runs away with amounts ranging between US$20 000 and US$50 000.
Banda has also allegedly conned several people by selling residential stands he does not own. Armed with fake identity particulars, Banda uses his same tactics and over the past months, he has been targeting unsuspecting victims in both South Africa and Zimbabwe, particularly in 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 runs 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.