Model Turned Con Artist: Former Top Model Convicted of Massive US$10K Fraud
Mercy Mushaninga, once a celebrated top model, has been convicted of fraud and ordered to repay US$10K to her victims.
Emphasis on Leniency
Despite being found guilty of five fraud charges, Mercy Mushaninga managed to avoid imprisonment as the court considered her a first-time female offender deserving of leniency. Harare magistrate Yeukai Dzuda sentenced her to 28 months in prison, with six months suspended for five years, on the condition that she avoids any further dishonest acts.
Restitution and Community Service
Out of the remaining months, 12 were suspended on the condition that Mercy repays the stolen money to the complainants by December 21. The rest of the sentence was converted to 350 hours of community service. And the service is be carried out at VID Belvedere starting from October 27 and completed within 12 weeks.
Reasoning Behind the Judgment
While recognizing the offense’s potential 20-year sentence, Magistrate Dzuda prioritized restitution for the complainants’ financial losses. Imprisonment would hinder their recovery. Mercy’s apology was considered, but without recovered funds, restitution was deemed necessary.
The Complainants and US$10k Deception
Mercy introduced to her victims, Daniel Tineyi Muzondo, Temani Isabel, Wendy Kamwana, Shalom Ramunyenyiwo, and Eldah Wadzanai Chitate as the organizer of two pageants in Dubai. She ordered them to pay for their air tickets, visa fees, and accommodation, with promises of traveling and staying together as a team.
Broken Promises and Stranded Models
October 24, the day of departure, exposed the models’ deception as Mercy failed to provide them with tickets at the airport. Investigations uncovered that Shalom Ramunyenyiwa and Tamar Kunashe Ramunyenyiwa were abandoned in Dubai after losing Us$2,000 to the fraud. Fortunately, the Zimbabwe Embassy ensured their safe journey back home.
In conclusion, aspiring models must prioritize thorough research when dealing with modeling agencies to prevent fraud and exploitation. iHarare has previously published a helpful article outlining crucial factors for models to protect themselves from potential risks when joining such agencies.