How a Kenyan family stole Sh2bn from US taxpayers

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When in November last year, the National Police Service said it had received information from Interpol that some Kenyans were wanted in the US for alleged fraud offences, one of the names released was that of Edwin Sila Nyumu, a man who had been on the run.

Nyumu and his family were behind a US-based crime syndicate that laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in the country, but had managed to escape the FBI dragnet to hide in Mlolongo, Machakos.

In total, the family members are believed to have stolen more than Sh2 billion in a tax fraud, the Nation has established. It is one of the biggest cyber-crime heists in the blossoming industry.

How this Kenyan family laid a scamming web and managed to bilk millions of dollars and send them to Kenya without raising the alarm has always petrified investigators.

For 12 years, since his name first featured on the Interpol list, Nyumu oiled the palms of all those who knew his identity, he became a cash cow of police officers, until the money ran out last year.

But, by then, and after 12 years, he could no longer be charged with fraud since the federal crimes have a statute of limitations, which protects people from being harassed and having to constantly defend themselves from old charges.

Why police had not been able to trace Nyumu, and his millions of dollars, was never explained. Mr Kamwaro, while seeking the order said the “matter is of public interest since it touches on fraud against another government.”

Although he added that Nyumu was supposed to be extradited to the US to face charges of fraud, it was already too late. After 12 years on the run, he was no longer wanted by the US.

All his charges, together with Ernest Kangara, Kenneth Njagi, Bernard Nyemba, Ervin Somba and his uncle Paul Kilungya Nyumu had been dropped.

Judge Greg Kays of District Court of Missouri reached the same verdict on September 22, 2017. It is now suspected that the police knew the 12 year limitation had passed and wanted to scare him.

But Nyumu was not an ordinary fraudster. He came from a family that had terrorised US institutions with tax fraud and invested in real estate projects in Kenya.

By running a multinational cyber fraud syndicate, this family had entered the annals of Kenya’s history for stealing the largest amount of money without being involved in tendering or even firing a single shot.

Additionally the family members not only launched Kenya’s journey into cybercrime, but also played a big role into transforming the country into a global hotspot of technology-based criminals.

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