US embassy, Zimsec unmask fake certificates scam

By Tendai Kamhungira

At least 30 people were yesterday under police surveillance, following an investigation launched on cases of suspected culprits who used fake Ordinary and Advanced Level certificates to apply for visas at the United States of America embassy.

Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) spokesperson Nicolette Dhlamini yesterday confirmed to the Daily News that they had received a tip-off from the US embassy on the alleged forged documents relating to 30 applicants.

Zimsec officials then informed the police, who laid siege at the embassy before apprehending some of the suspected culprits, who were taken to Harare Central Police Station.

“Zimsec provides a service which is called the verification of results or otherwise known as the confirmation of results and today, we were alerted that there are some certificates that were submitted into the United States embassy for visa applications and these certificates after going through the process of verification were discovered to be fraudulent and so it means that the people who submitted these certificates had fraudulent certificates made which we are still to find out where exactly they were made,” Dhlamini said.

She said so far at least six people, some of whose forged certificates dated as far back as 2008, had been called in by the embassy yesterday and were under investigations.

She added that some of the unsuspecting culprits could not have turned up because of failure to raise the money that is required by the embassy for the visa interviews.

“We are assuming that the rest will be called…in total we found 30…it was actually a batch of 40, of which the other ones were fine but 30 were fraudulent,” Dhlamini said.

She, however, said at this stage, it was difficult to tell if Zimsec officials were involved in the scam.

“It will be too early to say, because at this stage, we have not yet been able to speak to the perpetrators, so we are not sure where they are getting these certificates, but like I said, we have known for quite some time that there are people who are doing it but it just had not reached the stage where they were brave enough to go to such authorities or to go to such organisations and try and use them,” she said.

Dhlamini further said that out of the whole group, only three people were minors.

Cases of people using fraudulent certificates have been on the increase in Zimbabwe, as some of them end up in police cells and eventually at the court.

Dhlamini said those that were apprehended yesterday were going to be charged with fraud and were set to appear before the court. Daily News