How Kampala Trader was Duped by Fraudsters Disguising as URA Officers

Caleb Kankiriho

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has arrested a man identified as Caleb Kankiriho said to have  been disguising as a URA staffer to defraud unsuspecting traders.

He was arrested on February 8 from Jinja Road in Kampala.

“On February 8, we apprehended one of the people who has for a long time been disguising himself as an employee of URA and defrauding traders,” said URA manager for eastern region Geoffrey Balamaga.

His arrest is in relation to an incident which occurred in January when Kankiriho, conniving with other individuals trailed a Nansansa based trader identified as Fred Kasozi and fleeced him of Shs 1 million.

The racket of the fraudsters was driving three vehicles including a Toyota RAV4, Prado and Mark X. Kankiriho is said to be an informer of URA who used his position to defraud the trader.

Kasozi had started to offload his goods at his store in Nansana when Kankiriho and his colleagues arrived and ordered him to half the process.

“We have received several complaints regarding Kankiriho. People have been saying he impounding people’s vehicles claiming he works with URA. He has been using fake IDs,” URA’s Balamaga told reporters.

He said he has been working with other people.

According to URA, the suspect has allegedly been extorting money from importers especially those that under-declare their goods, promising them they would not be subjected to another process of verification.

Investigations into the case are still ongoing. Balamaga cautioned the business community to be careful.

“When URA staff come for enforcement, we are always dressed in our uniform. If anybody claims to be working for URA and they are not dressed as such, please know they are not legitimate”.

“We also use official vehicles. If anybody is using vehicles that raise suspicion, take a photo and send it to us”.

Fred Kasozi, the victim of Kankiriho’s ploy narrated to reporters that Kankiriho threatened to have his goods driven to the URA headquarters (for another process of clearance) if he did not pay a sum of Shs 2m. Kankiriho identified himself as a customs officer.

“He asked me for the documents for clearance. He showed me his URA ID and instructed me to drive the goods to Nakawa for verification”.

“But I told him taking the goods to Nakawa, the process will take long. He then said he needed Shs 2m. I offered Shs 300,000 which he refused to take insisting we drive to Nakawa”.

Kasozi said Kankiriho was in company of another lady who was driving a Rav 4 vehicle. The lady took photos of the truck that was carrying the goods before she set off.

“He then demanded that I pay Shs 1m. When I paid him the Shs 1m, he said I was free to offload the truck. After I paid, I took a photo of his car”.

However, no sooner had Kankiriho and his team departed than another team accompanied by security officers arrived at Kasozi’s store and ordered him to lock his store. They then instructed him to take his cargo to Nakawa where it was again valued.

URA has also warned fraudsters to cease their fictitious conduct, saying they will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.

Balamaga also urged traders who import goods to comply with the customs tax procedures. He said that fraudsters only exploit traders who want to evade declaration of their imports through extortion.

“If you are an importer and you know you’ve declared everything, nobody is going to fool around and tell you ‘Give me this'”

“So, as you deal with us as URA, also improve on compliance so that together, we can rid our society of some of these people that make it hard for you to do business,” he said.

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