MASERU — A man claiming to be a Lesotho national was arrested in India on Wednesday for allegedly operating an online lottery scam.
The 27-year-old man is identified by different names in press reports.
His name has been given as Johnson Makyambo or Johnson McCambo — all of which don’t look like Sesotho names (for consistency he will be identified as Johnson in this report).
According to media reports Johnson allegedly sent a text message to Satish Kumar, a Bengali student based in India, informing him that he had won an online lottery draw.
The message said Kumar had won Rs 5.6 crore (about M9.2 million) but had to pay Rs 5 kh (about M83 000) to get the prize money as the sponsor had to remit money for tax clearance.
Johnson is alleged to have asked Kumar to remit the money in five accounts at an international bank in New Delhi.
Press reports said Kumar paid Rs 91 000 (about M15 000) but became suspicious when Johnson did not respond.
He then complained to the police.
Police asked him to persuade Johnson to come and get the rest of the money in cash.
The suspect fell for the trap and was arrested as he received the money.
“He has allegedly duped many people of lakhs of rupees saying they had won an online lottery,” C J Rangaswamy, a Police Inspector, told The Hindu newspaper
“McCombo (Johnson) had sent an SMS to Mr Kumar’s cellphone recently saying he had won an Internet lottery of Rs 5.6 crore. When Mr Kumar contacted him, McCombo told him he had to pay some taxes on the amount before he could get it. An unsuspecting Mr Kumar deposited Rs. 91 125 in McCombo’s account,” another officer told The Hindu.
The newspaper said the police were looking for a Sesotho speaking person to help interview Johnson because he does not seem to understand English.
It said when the police tried to question him in English Johnson only responded by saying “Ntšoarele (please forgive me/ I beg your pardon)” making it impossible to get answers from him.
Johnson arrived in New Delhi on a student’s visa in June and had been staying at a church in the city, the police said.
Police are on the lookout for his accomplices but have made no headway in their investigations due to the language barrier.
Following a suggestion, the police are asking colleges if they have any students from Lesotho who can temporarily play the role of an interpreter for them.