The Elubo District Police Command has arrested three men for posing as National Petroleum Authority (NPA) inspectors assigned to conduct inspections on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stations in the Western Region.
The three visited some fuel stations where they claimed to have found fault, and used that to extort various sums of money from the unsuspecting LPG stations.
The suspects — Frederick Mensah, Isaac Opoku Mensah and George Larbi — were arrested with the assistance of staff of NPA in one of the LPG stations at Elubo, after introducing themselves as officers from a company contracted by the regulator to perform official inspection duties.
The otherwise smartly dressed imposters arrived at the gas stations in a plush wine Toyota Highlander vehicle and charged about GH¢2,250 per fuel station after which they issued hand-written receipts on a piece of paper.
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They had handed the LPG stations a written price list, which stated that their supposed company, Petrogolf, was collaborating with NPA to conduct inspections of all gas stations to ensure safe operations. They left the price list and asked the station owners to make a decision before they would return to carry out the inspection.
For instance, they charged GH¢400 for checking pressure gauge, GH¢400 for checking temperature, while pressure testing cost ¢1,000.
The manager of the station, who was not comfortable with the new list, called the regional office of the NPA to enquire about the new terms.
The NPA regional office then dispatched a team to the gas station, and shortly after the three alleged imposters returned to carry out the task, they were picked up.
Following the arrest, the Takoradi Zonal Manager of NPA, Mr David Azey Adeenze Kangah, said at about 10 a.m. last Monday, the manager of the gas station informed him about the suspects and their activities.
Mr Kanga said it was not the first time his office had received complaints from downstream petroleum service providers of people using the NPA’s name to extort money from them, hence the decision to follow up immediately.
Upon realising they were not officials of NPA, Mr Kanga said the regional office called in the police to arrest the suspects.
The Toyota Highlander used for the operation, with registration number GS 1434-18, has since been impounded.
Upon interrogation, the three men claimed they had earlier provided services to gas stations in Half Assini, but the NPA said there was no name in their database where they claimed to have rendered the service.
“This incident is a typical example of what they talk about. This situation will not be taken on a lighter note. We will ensure that the perpetrators are made to face the full rigours of the law,” Mr Kanga said.