Businessman Sentenced to Five Months Imprisonment for Impersonating Balaam

Businessman Mark Andrew Asiimwe has been handed a five-month jail term in Luzira Prison for attempted fraud and impersonating Events Manager, Balaam Barugahara Ateenyi.

He was sentenced Tuesday by the Standards, Utilities and Wildlife Court Grade one Magistrate, Sanura Nambozo on his own plea of guilt on June 18th, 2023. Asiimwe is a resident of Bwera Mpondwe in Kasese District.

The Prosecution led by State Attorney, Judith Nyamwiza told the court that around January 2023 and July 2023 in the areas of Kampala and Kasese districts Asiimwe with intent to defraud John Twinomugisha falsely represented himself as Balaam Barugahara Ateenyi when he created an account on Facebook, which he used to communicate to his victim.

According to Nyamwiza, Asiimwe allegedly solicited money from Twinomugisha for the MK Girl Child project, which he verily believed was nonexistent and he was not Balaam Barugahara Ateenyi.

MK stands for Muhoozi Kainerugaba and stems from a political pressure group dubbed MK Movement where Balaam is the Vice Chairperson for the Western Uganda region. The group is currently rallying support for Kainerugaba to replace his father Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as the President of Uganda in 2026.

According to Nyamwiza, Asiimwe attempted to fraudulently solicit 49,000 pounds from Twinomugisha with the intent of unlawful gain.

The court further heard that the complainant contacted Balaama to ascertain whether indeed there was any such campaign for the MK project, which he denied. She explained that Balaam reported the matter to CID headquarters, which started tracing Asiimwe leading to his arrest.

She told the court that the Police managed to retrieve the communication between the suspect and Twinomugisha and confiscated his Huawei mobile phone, Airtel sim card, and national Identification Card and exhibited them for further investigations.

They later charged him with two counts of personation and attempted electronic fraud. To support her case, Nyamwiza tendered before Court a conversation between Asiimwe, and his victim, Twinomugisha.

The suspect accepted the brief facts as read to him by the Magistrate and was subsequently convicted on his own plea of guilty. Nyamwiza told the Court that the convict has no past criminal record but noted that cases of personation and electronic fraud have been common.

She prayed for a maximum sentence of two years, which is provided for personation and a fine not exceeding 360 currency points( 7.2 million Shillings) or imprisonment not exceeding 15 years or both on the offense of attempted electronic fraud. She said this would send a message to hackers and computer wizards that it is not safe for them to continue making similar offenses.

Asiimwe, who had no lawyer, asked Court to be lenient with him, saying that he will not repeat the same crime again. He told the court that he has responsibilities because he shifted his mother from Mbarara to Bwera and got her a job as a cleaner and is now worried about her survival. He added that it was his first time to go to prison and what he has seen and experienced has taught him a lesson.

He apologized for having tainted the names of people whom he personated and asked to be sentenced to community service because he cannot even call anyone since his relatives stay far away and his phones were confiscated upon arrest.

Asiimwe added that he has keloid, which makes his head swell whenever he shaves off the hair, and since the prison requires men to shave off their hair, the infection will continue growing up.

In her sentence, Nambozo said the convict is remorseful and has not wasted court time and therefore a five months imprisonment sentence was appropriate.

Nambozo noted that she had considered the health of the convict and the fact that he has children to look after as well as the prosecution’s pleas to the effect that the offense, of which Asiimwe has been convicted is rampant in the country.

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