Though its apersonal experience, i create a generalization that a majority if not all of us are at a big risk. The genesis of this story dates back to february 2012. I happened to loose my bag at a school library within the Central business district late in the month. As a precautionary measure i reported the matter with the library personnel and at the same time reprted the issue to the schools management. Notices were ran at the Library and the schools premises but nobody responded in affirmative. The bag contained among other valuables: my original National identity card, Bank ATM cards and my driving licence which was due for renewal on this day. On the very day i reported the matter at the central police station. I obtained an Abstract which i later on used to obtain a replacement for my National identity card. In the mean time i had followed up with the banks to replace my ATM cards to ensure safety of my account. I did not replace my driving licence though with the hope that whoever picked it would avail it to me.
No word nor action came forth. I received a new identity card after a months wait and for me life was just as usual not untill the 14th of May 2013. On this day, i went to NHIF-headquarters to sign up for a hospital insurance fund membership account. After which i walked into Equity bank Fourways branch in the CBD to sign up for a bankers account. To the worst of my surprise, i was informed that i could not sign up for a new account since i already had an active account with them yet to the best of my understanding i had never done an account with them. Further checks revealed that the said account was opened at the Riruta Equity branch. I was instructed to visit this branch which i did early the following morning.
Indeed an account existed in my name yet the file photo that appeared on the computer was not mine neither were we in any form of resemblence. The guy taking me through the process was surprised too. The branch operational managers decision was thus that the existing account be blocked and they got me an authentic account. The blocked account was linked to some employee of a chinese contractors company. I had to agree with the banks decision and thus did the formal account openning procedures and left.
My instinct still alerted me that something was a miss somewhere in as much as the manager at the bank had assured me of the safety of my new account. I chose not to do any savings with it i wondered what could have been the undisclosed motive of the person behind this undertakings!? To me it was like a movie unfolding!
On the 24th of June 2013, it was Monday and now one month waiting period for collection of NHIF card was long overdue since i had been instructed to pick it on the 14th of the same month. From home, i went direct to NHIF headquarters to beat the usual daytime Queus. When i received my membership card, again i was surprised. It beared my details although the same photo i had seen at the bank appered on it in place of mine which i had presented as i did the applications the previous month. The lady at the customer care advised me to apply for correction but i thought she was not right. The other mistake was that my first name Winston had been mispelt for Winstone. My thinking was, doing a correction would be a similar mistake i had already done at the bank. This to me is politics of the ostrich- burrying the head in the sand to assume the problem is gone. Time was ripe to investigate into this impersonification matter.
My first stop was at the schools premises where i had previously lost my documents. They said they could not recognise the face on my card. I went back to equity bank. They were even more surprised. I requested for the initial documentation used for openning the account discussed and their response was that they had been surrendered to the head office. Finally i decided to take up the matter with the police. i went to Central police station and picked OB No. 57 office 21. To my dismay, they could not help. Everyone had adifferent opinion. At first i was sent to the CID unit. The officer incharge had left the station but i had to wait for sometime. He dint come back on time. As i waited, a policeman came by and adviced me to best take the matter with Riruta police station where the initial Equity account had been opened based on my explanation to him. I did not find his argument sensible enough but he insisted to explain to me why it was the only viable plan for me “from a proffessional angle” as he put it. My challenge to him was “Sir, What if the said culprit had openned an account at some Equity branch in Tanzania now that businesses have a global pressence for example, would i be asked to travel all the way to sort my issue out?” He thought i was being rude and left. I had to go back to the man at the registration desk to explain what i had gone through since he had let me in. His advice was that i either go back to the bank for a solution or pick up the matter with the Bankers fraud investigation department siting that it was located at martial building on Harambee Avenue. I thought the later was sensible.
Since it was already late, i picked up the matter the following day in the afternoon. BFIU is located on the fifth floor vof the mentioned building. They adviced me to do a formal letter with the explanation of my case which i did.
Choosing to write this article is my last step that sums up my individual contribution and efforts towards indemnifying myself against any probable or possible ill-motives of the fraudster in question. It also serves to release the pressure i got as i followed up with this case and to ease the discomfort and humilliation such foolish acts can have on ones normal body functioning. However my main goal is to send a precautionary measure to my fellow countrymen who may easily fall pray to such selfish deeds considering that on like a daily basis we loose important documents and never take any further step beyond replacements.
In the meantime and as i tirelessly wait for any possible feedback, i am taking a step to visit major national registration bodies and banks just incase the culprit in question may have gone a notch higher. Fellow citizens you too make an effort to check if you ever lost your documents over the previous years dont just wait to fit into my pinching shoes!