MTN WIN BEEG fraudsters get 4 years

The purported winner of the 2012 K1 billion MTN WIN BEEG Promotion and two others have been sentenced to four years imprisonment for fraudulently manipulating the competition in her favor.

Namuchana Sinuma, the purported winner, was arrested together with Jones Ilukena, the MTN Call Centre Support Engineer and Richard Kawana, a teacher in Livingstone in 2012 and slapped with eight counts of unauthorized interference with data, cheating and money laundering contrary to the Laws of Zambia.

However, the trio were only sentenced on Wednesday, seven years after committing the offence.

Ilukena intentionally manipulated the data of the MTN Summer Campaign WIN BEEG Promotion, purporting that Sinuma was the genuine winner of the promotion when the outcome had been predetermined in her favour.

The court also ordered that the properties which were acquired through proceeds of crime, which included; four houses in Livingstone, a vehicle and the money which was deposited in the accounts, be forfeited to the State.

Particulars of the offence in the first count, were that Ilukena on unknown dates but between September 1 and March 1, 2012, jointly and whilst acting together with other persons unknown, intentionally and without authority interfered with the MTN Summer Campaign WIN BEEG Promotion Data in a way that rendered it ineffective.

In the second count, Ilukena and Sinuma by means of fraudulent tricks or device obtained money from MTN Zambia amounting to K1,000,000, purporting that Sinuma was the genuine winner when in fact not.

And in count three to eight, the three were charged with money laundering and it was alleged that they, through the money obtained from proceeds of crime, bought some houses in Livingstone, several properties, a vehicle and that they also deposited some of the money into Kawana’s Zanaco account.

When the matter came up for judgment, Wednesday, magistrate Obbister Musukwa said although Ilukena as an IT expert at MTN was allowed to run the program randomly, his authority ended the moment he intentionally hard-coded Sinuma’s mobile number in the system of the program and predetermined the outcome of the competition, giving Sinuma unfair advantage.

He observed that MTN expected a random selection of a winner and not one that was hard-coded in the system of the program.

Magistrate Musukwa said Ilukena and Sinuma had been in touch between November and December, 2011, before the competition, adding that it was an odd coincidence that the same number that Sinuma used to communicate with Ilukena was the same number that was hard-coded in the system of the program of the WIN BEEG prior to the draw and ended up being drawn as a winner.

Magistrate Musukwa also found that Ilukena and Sinuma were related and as such, the latter was ineligible to take part in the competition.

“How ironic that the said number (winning number) did not belong to anyone else but that of his own relative whom he had links with through communications. This was no ordinary coincidence but a well calculated design by Ilukena. The entire program was not run in a transparent manner,” he said.

Magistrate Musukwa further said Sinuma’s conduct of dishing out K400 million to the third accused, Kawana, who is Ilukena’s brother in law barely few days after winning the money showed that she was part of the scum.

He found that the winning was bogus as the draw was a fraud.

Magistrate Musukwa added that MTN was cheated when it issued the money and as a result suffered losses.

“For her conduct which saw her dish out K400 million, which was almost half of the winning prize barely 10 days after receiving K1 billion (unrebased) to the third accused, Kawana, a relative to Ilukena by marriage, which she hardly knew, shows that she was part of the scum. Although Sinuma was not an employee of MTN, she had colluded with Ilukena by supplying her number that was hard-coded in the system of the program,” he said.

After convicting the trio, the convicts in mitigation asked for leniency from the court saying they were first offenders and breadwinners of their families.

Ilekuna said he had endured so much suffering in the last seven years as he had been out of employment.

“I have been out of employment for the last seven years. I have three children that are going to school. The first one dropped out of university for non payment of fees, the other two are still going to school and my wife is not in gainful employment,” he said.

And Sinuma said she was asthmatic and had BP, adding that there would be no one to look after her children if she was sent to prison.

However, passing his sentence magistrate Musukwa said since Sinuma had not availed any medical evidence to back up her claims of being asthma, he would not consider that.

He also said the option of a fine was inappropriate given the public interest of the matter and the fact that there were proceeds of crime involved in the case.

Magistrate Musukwa then sentenced the three to four years imprisonment effective April 17, 2019 as they were on police bond.

He said the lady would serve simple imprisonment, whereas the men, with hard labour.

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