Robert Riagah is a man who has made deadlines several times due to his constant wash wash shenanigans.
Riagah first made headlines in 2019 when he was arrested in the company of seven other people. The eight suspects had been arrested in Lang’ata with millions of fake US dollars and 100 kilograms of fake gold.
Their arrest had happened days after a different group of swindlers had swindled a Dubai based businessman 500 million Kenya shillings in a similar fake scheme.
Riagah was to make headlines later in 2021 after a young man, Kevin Omwenga, was killed under mysterious conditions.
According to a lady who alleged to have dated the deceased, Omwenga had been a part of the wicked wash wash gang. And she alleged that he must have been shot after a deal went wrong.
The unidentified lady had also disclosed that Omwenga had bought former singer Tanasha Donna, her first car, a blue BMW whose logbook was under his name.
The lady had further claimed that he used to have a safe in his house, which at one time held at least Ksh17 million.
“At one time I asked him how much was there he said just Ksh17 million. He even asked me whether I wanted to start a business but my gut told me not to have anything to do with his cash. I suspect he was shot after he refused to give Cesar what belongs to Cesar and ended up dead in his room,” she adds.
This is where Riagah joins the group.
After the mysterious passing of Omwenga, a Kenyan reached out to blogger Edgar Obare to reveal more details of the washwash industry.
So Omwenga and his associates, sell people “money-minting machines which function for sometime before they are taken away for “system upgrades”.
The victim lost a whopping 440,000Ksh in what he says was the perfect raid on his pockets and one that was orchestrated with top-level efficiency.
Speaking to Obare, the victim said that he sold his Land Rover and confided to one of his garage clients over the sale of his land rover. That’s where trouble began.
“The client is one Samuel Oyugi. A man I had known for quite a while and a man I had done business with over the years. Upon hearing about the sale of my Land Rover, he found the perfect opportunity to strike. And brought up the ‘Wash-Wash’ business. He was keen to take away all the monies I had made from the sale of the car. And that’s how I was introduced to the fake money forgery business…” he said.
Our victim was told that he could make a cool Ksh. 3 Million from Ksh. 300,000.
“He told me he knew of a way we could print money. We could print at least Ksh. 3 million. I was interested. It sounded like a deal. I was game. I decided to give it a shot“, He added.
He was then introduced to Riagah and Michael Okongo who would be printing the money. Oyugi asked for 70k to rent an apartment as well as the machine. The machine owner happened to be Robert Riagah who asked for 250k to organize for papers. He gave him the money and the papers were delivered by a guy named Mike.
“So Robert (Riagah) started with the first few samples on the machine, which come out legit. After that they start coming out faded then they lie to you that software has expired hence the problems and make fake phone calls which they now put it on the loudspeaker to make you feel its a legit problem that sometimes happens with the machine, then you hear the guy on the other end asking for Ksh180,000 for software update.
Since you’re already deep in it and you don’t want to lose your money, you end up bargaining with them. I tried telling them to update and even deduct 20 percent more from my cut the guy refused. So I ended up paying another Ksh90,000 then balance once the job is done. That’s when they take the machine to the ” lab” for software update after that its cats n mouse games and they dodge you,” said the victim.
” I started smelling a rat. Everything was looking too suspicious to me. I started asking questions. But then they told me that the printing machine had developed issues and needed to be upgraded. And that’s how we settled on a trip to Sarit Centre to do a software upgrade, ” he added.
The three, Samuel Oyugi, Robert Riagah and Michael Okongo asked the victim to accompany them to a popular mall in Westlands but was asked to follow their car in an uber. As he was not allowed to ride with them.
He agreed to follow the accomplices’ car in an uber. And that’s the last time he saw them.
“It was like a bad dream. Before my uber even arrived, Sam and his boys had already driven off. I couldn’t see them ahead of us while I was in my uber, I tried calling them, they were not picking the calls, they ignored my messages and at some point, even became rude. I knew there and then that I had been conned. It finally dawned on me that I had lost Ksh. 440 000 within a week…” he concluded.
His efforts to get his hard-earned money back saw him getting only 9ksh.
The police as usual turned out to be nothing short of useless. Despite him reporting the issue.
What are your thoughts on the rising washwash gangs?
By Wanjiru Mbaru