One of Bulawayo’s most notorious fraudsters Alexio Zvarira (40), who is currently languishing in prison on charges of fraud has finally decided to quit the trade for better jobs out there.
Zvariro made this announcement at a time he is currently serving a nine months jail term at Bulawayo Prison for defrauding unsuspecting citizens using fake United States dollar notes.
In an interview, Zvariro told B-Metro news crew that defrauding people was not by choice but the economic situation in Zimbabwe actually pushed him into the game as he had no source of income.
“I started defrauding citizens way back in 1999. By then I was very young and the push factor was the economic situation which had limited opportunities in terms of job opportunities.
“The people that I used to associate with in Makokoba suburb actually exposed me to the game of defrauding people and that’s where I was groomed to be one of the best fraudsters in Bulawayo,”he said.
Zvariro said from the training he chose to specialise in fake bank notes as a lot of people were not yet really exposed to the United States dollar notes which was an advantage to him.
“I got into this trade in 1999 and by then a lot of people were not yet well exposed to the United States dollars so we took advantage of that when defrauding clients.
“We operated for a very long time before it was noticed that we were taking advantage of the situation and we only started having challenges on the introduction of the United States dollar into our economy in 2008 as part of the multi-currency system,”he said.
The inmate said as a group of fraudsters they were not producing the fake bank notes. Instead, they got supplied by a team from Harare and it produced all the United States dollar notes ranging from US$1.00 up to US$100.00 and they would buy these notes at US$2.00 each.
“Our suppliers who gave us the fake bank notes used to charge us a very reasonable price for us to be able to realise profits very fast and a larger profit margin. I remember buying a US$10.00 note for US$2.00 and this really helped us remain in the game.
“With these supplies we operated for more than 10 years up to the time I was arrested by the police leading to my conviction as they discovered that I had more than US$60.00 in fake notes,” he said.
The inmate said on the day he was caught by the police he had attempted to defraud one of his clients that he had defrauded using the same method he used previously and managed to get away without being caught.
“On the day I was caught by the police, I went to a shop that I had managed to defraud sometime in 2019 and the team at the shop were still aware of how we managed to get away with their money.
“When they discovered that I had tendered a fake note they immediately locked the doors and they called the police who searched me while on the scene and they managed to recover US$60.00 of fake notes,” he said.
The inmate said the matter was referred to the courts, where the magistrate who dealt with the matter said cases of fraud were on the rise and it was high time they gave lengthy sentences to deter would-be offenders.
“At the courts the magistrate told me that I had committed a serious offence and as a way of deterring would-be offenders they said that they were going to give me a long sentence thus I was given nine months in prison.
“When I got to prison for the first time, I thought this was the end of my life considering that I am a father of five and all my children look up to me as the family provider,”he said.
Zvarira said with the support that he got from the rehabilitation section at Bulawayo Prison he managed to adapt to the new environment and he was now working with the construction unit that is working on the motor bike showroom at the station.
“From this project I have managed to grasp a lot in terms of house wiring, plumbing and plastering as we were practically doing it on this project that you can see.
“With the skills that I got from this project I thought it was high time I do away with crime and start doing piece jobs as crime has shown me that it does not pay.
Right now, my family is struggling out there while I am in prison serving for money that I never stole as it was discovered that it was fake before I even got that money,”he said.
The inmate also urged would-be offenders to stay away from crime as the money that he made during his days never bought him anything but it was used in buying food and paying their rent as a family.
“This industry does not have a pension, instead it forces you to come back and commit another crime tomorrow and this has made me remain poor as you can see.
“I would like to urge people out there who are into crime to stay away from that as the end result is for them coming to this place called prison. It’s not easy being here especially if you have responsibilities out there,”he said.
The station rehabilitation officer Leonard Matsvange said inmates had an opportunity to change their lives by using the skills they gain while in prison.
“Prison is now more of a training institute that offers inmates opportunities to be trained in different areas of interest and if they put those skills into good use, they will definitely live better lives out there.
“We are working towards creating a crime-free state by promoting such people to be productive towards the development of the nation,” he said.