Chinese men jailed for fraud

Portia Mlilo
IN TROUBLE: Baocai and Shicong

Gaborone Regional Magistrate Mareledi Dipatane further remanded in custody two Chinese men, Yan Baocai and Hong Shicong charged with fraud.

Baocai aged 48 and Shicong 61, allegedly operated a ponzi scheme of Miracle Farm Investments to defraud members of the public of undisclosed but huge amounts of money.

The court heard that in January at or near Gaborone, the accused persons acting jointly together with a common purpose with intent to defraud members of the public opened a WhatsApp link, which was widely shared as a farming scheme.

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They allegedly used this to lure members of the group to subscribe and join the scheme which earned interest through investing in the account shown in the link when in truth and in fact, they knew the said presentation to be false.

In addition, Shicong has been found guilty of illegally remaining in the country in excess of 1,730 days. He pleaded guilty to the offence.

This Tuesday (March 26, 2024) , Magistrate Dipatane sentenced Shicong to six months imprisonment back dated to the date he was arrested.

The magistrate also fined the same person P1000 payable on March,28, failure to which he would have to spend a month in prison running consecutively with the 6 months fine.

Detective Sergeant Mongae Mhete of Commercial and Cyber Crime Unit pleaded with the court to further remand the duo as he anticipates that they are likely to interfere with investigations, arguing that if released, they are the type to go online to conceal or destroy evidence.

“There is evidence which links these two to the committed crime, documents relating to the crime were found during the search and seizure. During the search, they were found with P75 000 cash and currencies of different countries, which they failed to account for. Some of the potential state witnesses worked for the suspects and if granted bail, they are likely to have access and intimidate or influence them. This offence involved a syndicate, and our preliminary investigations shows that the accused persons had global outreach,” said Mhete

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However, the defence attorney Modisa Kebonyemodisa was not happy that his clients were remanded on holding charges.

He said while the court is looking at the interest of justice, the magistrate should also be considerate of the accused person’s right to liberty.

Magistrate Dipatane said cybercrime is complex and difficult and takes time to investigate therefore the police should be given enough to complete their investigations.

On the illegal stay charges, Dipatane said this is lack of respect to the country’s laws and that it is a threat to the nation.

He ordered that the accused be remanded in custody and be brought back to court on April,5, 2024 for status update.

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