Detectives in Nairobi on Tuesday arrested eight people for allegedly conning more than 300 people with the promise of greener pastures in Kuwait, Middle East.
The suspects were arrested at 680 and Clarion hotels by detectives from Central Police Station.
The suspects – Franline Otieno, Kevin Olondi, Stella Cheruto, Joseph Gikonyo, Catherine Ngendoi, Habiba Shafi, Aisha Mohamed and Mary Ogola – are believed to have taken in millions of shillings from the unsuspecting job seekers.
“Over 300 victims who have been defrauded up to Sh130,000 each allegedly to cater for logistics, training and transport to Kuwait were waiting in vain for their journey to mature,” DCI tweeted.
A woman police believe has been receiving the money and is based at the National Youth Services (NYS) headquarters is at large.
“A suspect at large, allegedly from NYS HQs has been receiving the money … with the promise that the group would be transported to NYS HQs before exit to JKIA,” it said.
Detectives were interrogating the eight suspects as others hunted down the NYS staff.
FRAUDULENT JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Every year, hundreds of Kenyans are lured by the promise of lucrative jobs and a chance to escape unemployment in Kenya.
Thousands of Kenyans are said to be working in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon and other Middle East countries.
However, there are no official records because most recruiting agencies operate underground, with some jobseekers ending up in working conditions that border on slavery.
In 2018, families of more than 70 Kenyans from Mombasa who were stranded in Qatar for lack of travel documents and air tickets to return home after falling out with their employers were forced to seek help from the government to facilitate their safe return.
They had paid Sh120,000 to different recruiting agencies in Kenya to secure jobs in Qatar.
What many did not know was that the agencies were not recruiting firms but travel companies ‘owned’ by Nigerians in Mombasa.
BAN ON FOREIGN EMPLOYMENT
In September 2014, the Kenyan government banned its citizens from seeking domestic work in Middle East and revoked the licences of 930 recruitment agencies after reports of abuses increased.
In March 2016, however, the same government lifted the blanket ban on the exportation of labour to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.
The government, through the Labour ministry, said Kenyans with professional qualifications, such as accounting, hotel management and secretarial, can freely work in the Gulf States, provided they apply through properly vetted recruitment agencies.
In January this year, the government allowed Saudi Arabia to start recruiting Kenyan domestic workers again.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said the decision followed the signing of a bilateral agreement in 2017, paving the way for structured recruitment.