Two directors of Dunamiscoin, the Ugandan Ponzi scheme that masqueraded as a cryptocurrency investment fund, appeared in court earlier this week on 65 counts relating to obtaining money by false pretense and conspiracy to commit a felony. Samson Lwanga, 37, and Mary Nabunya, 53, pleaded not guilty to all charges and will appear again court on January 22 to face the charges.
Local newspaper The Observer reported that between February 14, 2018 and December 3, 2019, Lwanga and Nabunya fraudulently obtained between Shs 500,000 ($135) and Shs 140 million ($37,800) from dozens of investors, claiming that they would earn up to 40% on their investment. The scheme continued until late last year when complaints began to filter through to local police, and on December 3 offices were found abandoned.
Dozens suffer losses in sham #cryptocurrency scheme in Masaka. Victims were lured by Dunamiscoin Resources Ltd so as to earn 40% interest on their investments. On Thur, clients & staff were shocked to find the offices empty & closed https://t.co/yx3nXqOYWD #fraud #Uganda pic.twitter.com/l6eu32lcKO
— The Observer (@observerug) December 9, 2019
Lwanga and Nabunya, who have been in police custody since their arrest on December 10, headed the scam that spread across numerous towns in the area, establishing official-looking branches in town centers. Uganda was, and continues to be, a prime target for the OneCoin scam, where even church pastors sell the coin to the congregation, receiving benefits for doing so.
Air of Authenticity Fooled Investors
Employees looking to work for Dunamiscoins had to pay up front for their interviews and registration to the company, as well as investing in it. This didn’t seem to put many off however, as the company successfully hired many marketing executives, cashiers, office assistants, and receptionists among others to work in the network of branches, which undoubtedly increased the supposed legitimacy of the project.
The lead complainant, Haruna Asiimwe, told The Observer that victims were duped by the promises of Dunamiscoins Resources Limited officials, which included local people hired to shill the scheme to family members and friends, into investing money with promises of earning huge returns in just 21 days. Police have so far collected over 4,000 complaints lodged against it both before and after its collapse, and with enquiries still ongoing ahead of the trial that number could increase.
Wen Refund Sir?
A statement previously issued by Uganda Police said the directors of the ‘company’ claim they are willing to refund the money, but this could be problematic as their major bank accounts have been frozen by the Financial Intelligence Authority.