Batswana students stranded in Ireland as bogus consultants pocket big bucks
At least six Batswana students were this week stranded in Ireland after they were cheated out of hundreds of thousands of pulas by fake consultants in a bogus scholarship scheme.
Shocking details of how the fly-by-night consultants managed to dupe the unsuspecting students out of their hard earned cash emerged in court last week when two young women who lost P118 000 between them in ‘school fees’ brought a case of obtaining by false pretences against the two con women.
The alleged fake consultants Leungo Mmolawa (37) and Mogolokwane Matimba (33) were granted bail on Tuesday but appeared in court again on Thursday for mention.
The victims, Lopang Molefe and Maureen Monageng, both aged 27, this week told of how their dreams of studying in Ireland suffered a huge blow after the directors of the Gaborone based Trillotech Travel Agency tricked them into parting with their money. The cheated women said they knew of at least six other students who were currently still stuck in Ireland.
Narrating the details of the drama that started in April this year, Molefe said when she first heard of the agency she did not suspect any foul play.
“I so much wanted to go to school that I sold my BMW to raise the required fees. I paid about P68 000 and the two women at the agency told me that the money would be enough to cover my flight ticket, course fee, pocket money, accommodation and insurance.
“They gave me a Master Card and told me that they would credit it with my living allowance. But when I got to the airport in Johannesburg I found that my tickets had not been paid for and I had to pay again.”
Upon arrival at Success College in Dublin, Molefe who was to study for a Diploma in Occupational Health, says she was welcomed by the principal but was later shocked when she found out that her permits had not been arranged. “When I arrived at the school I was not given my documents and for some days I was sent from pillar to post. I was supposed to have sorted out my visa within three weeks but I was fast running out of time. When I called the agency in Botswana they promised to sort out the problems but they never did. Eventually an official at the school told me that my school fees were not paid and advised me to return home.”
Molefe says at that time her cousin Monageng, who had also fallen victim to the agency, was preparing to leave the country to join her in Ireland. “Before I left Ireland I found out that Maureen’s fees were also not paid so I quickly notified her not to travel,” she said.
Realising that they had been cheated Monageng approached the agency to reclaim her money and was issued with a post-dated cheque which was later dishonoured by the bank.
“I had given them P50 000 and when I demanded the money back they gave me a cheque and told me to deposit it within two weeks. When I got to the bank the cheque bounced and I reported the matter to the police.
“The agency was located at the Red Cross building and when the police got there they found the ladies moving their furniture trying to relocate, and that was when they arrested them,” she said.
Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Education, Silas Sehularo said his office had not received any information regarding the concerned students. “The information that we receive usually concerns students who are on government scholarship and that is probably why the matter never reached our office as those are self-sponsored students,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from the Success College Principal in the Irish capital of Dublin were unsuccessful as he declined to discuss the issue without approval from the College Board.