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Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 11:30 UK

Ugandan shock as bank disappears

Dollar bills generic
The bank defrauded traders, farmers and its own landlord

Scammers have targeted a town on the Uganda-Kenya border with an elaborate fraud - setting up a fake bank and taking deposits, before fleeing.

The bank opened an office in Malaba town, advertised on radio and took $100,000 in deposits over two months.

But when investors turned up to reclaim their money, all they found was a note saying: "Sorry the bank operations have been moved to a new place."

The scammers had paid for food, rent and advertising with fake cheques.

Richard Ojore, the landlord of the building where the fraudsters set up shop, said he had believed they were "genuine people".

"We signed an agreement, and they even issued me a cheque for the duration of a year," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Uganda map

"That's when I went to the bank and presented the cheque for confirmation. The bankers confirmed to me that the thing is a fake.

"By the time I reported back to Malaba, they had already fled."

The BBC's Abraham Odeke in Malaba says crowds of people gathered outside the bank's offices as the story spread.

He says most of them are retail traders and the small-scale farmers from the villages surrounding Malaba.

But he says all that is left inside the office of Visa Finance Bank are empty chairs - the cashiers, fans and even the carpets have all gone.



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