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Sim-swap suspects arraigned; they stole from the dead

By Nancy Gitonga
Tuesday, February 16th, 2021
The sim swap fraud suspects at Milimani on Tuesday
In summary

Four suspects were arraigned at Milimani law courts on Tuesday after stealing over Sh3.3million from bank accounts belonging to deceased persons.

The four Eutycus Muguna , Eugene Shivachi, Morris Koome and Jane Wacuka in December last year stole cash amounting to Sh2.88 million from various bank accounts associated with Amos Ngatia Muiruri, a deceased.

The suspects also used Mr. Muiruri's sim-card to commit other frauds involving siphoning cash from banks accounts.

According to a report by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations(DCI), the suspects swapped the sim card of the deceased and siphoned money from his bank accounts at KCB, NCBA and Equity Bank.

The DCI said on Monday that the suspects had followed their deceased 'victims' from the obituary section of newspapers.

"The syndicate mostly targets wealthy individuals – especially those who have died and their families placed their death announcements in newspapers. They also target telephone lines of the elderly and those who have travelled abroad. The telephone lines of those that fall in that category have minimal chances of raising suspicion. They normally strike soon after the person dies and before the family establishes the exact wealth in the deceased’s bank accounts," said the DCI.

The suspects are said to have stolen other Sh0.5 million from yet another deceased person, Rev Kania Kariuki. Both Kania and Muiruri died at Nairobi Hospital late last year.

They operate in a syndicate of a five-member gang and target deceased persons whose deaths were published in obituaries. They swap their sim cards and withdraw money from any bank accounts linked to the phone numbers.

Theft from Muiruri's bank accounts was uncovered after the son realized that his father's phone number had suddenly gone dead. The line was later activated from another handset.

After the son reported the suspicious activity to the service provider, Safaricom, the line was reverted back to the family where they discovered the Sh2.8 million theft.

Sleuths said the same phone number was used to commit other frauds. The syndicate targets perceived wealthy individuals whose families announce their deaths in the newspapers. The gang also targets people in the diaspora.

Additional reporting by Njange Maina

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