Top Kasarani cop faults Safaricom for Sh600,000 theft
Kasarani Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Peter Mwanzo wants Safaricom held responsible for a scam attack where his phone details were stolen and his bank accounts drained of Sh600,000 in six hours after the SIM swap.
The officer narrated in court how he lost the money, saying he also wants the mobile service provider to refund the money and take responsibility for keeping a system that can be easily manipulated and abused by criminals to fleece innocent clients of their cash.
“Safaricom ought to take responsibility. There are many complaints of illegal SIM swap,” said the officer.
In his testimony, Mwanzo said the ordeal left him shell-shocked over how criminals could access his phone details and transfer such amounts of money from his bank account without his knowledge.
“Within six hours, Sh 597,100 had been transferred from my Equity Bank account to M-Pesa, and later sent to an unknown number and withdrawn in Mulot, Bomet county. How this happened is a mystery,” the police boss told the court.
He made the revelations while testifying in a case in which Gideon Mark is charged with defrauding him Sh600,000 through Sim swap.
The officer gave a blow-by-blow account of how he fell victim to a Sim card swapping scam on the night of January 4, 2022. It started with a phone call from a private number.
When the caller persisted after he failed to receive the calls, he switched off his mobile phone from 18:50pm while he was in the office filing the daily report of his duties.
“The private number called several times but l did not pick. I then put my phone on flight mode to avoid disturbance from the caller. On turning it on, the phone had no network,” Mwanzo said.
He added that following the frustration over lack of network the whole night of January 4, he decided to visit a Safaricom shop within Kasarani area the following day at 8am.
On inquiring with the telecommunication attendant, he was informed that his Sim card had failed and was advised to do a replacement for the same.
The court heard that he did the replacement and his line was reactivated.
“Moments later, l tried to purchase airtime and to send money but the transaction failed. I got a message that l had exceeded my day’s limit,” the senior officer told the court.
“I also received messages telling me that l had registered a Fuliza account and Airtel Money. That left me so shocked. I had not applied for any loan or registered with Airtel.”
Following these revelations, he immediately sought his M-Pesa and Equity Bank statements to confirm whether the alleged transactions were conducted by a third party.
“To my surprise, I learnt that within six hours l had transacted from an Equity Bank account to M-Pesa cash to the tune of Sh 597,100. The amount was transacted over the night and withdrawn via an agent number in Mulot, Bomet County,” he said.
He showed the court the statement, which indicates that the money was transferred in four tranches.
At 19:14pm, Sh150,000 was withdrawn from his bank account to M-Pesa and transferred to a number in Mulot. Six minutes later, Sh147,000 was withdrawn and six minutes past midnight another Sh150,000 was withdrawn. The last transaction of Sh150,100 was done a minute later.
“They were abnormal withdrawals which l could not explain how they happened, “ said Mwanzo.
However, the officer said that through the help of the Criminal Intelligence Unit at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and interrogation of Safaricom staff, he learnt that his Sim card was easily switched or swapped by someone at Donholm, Nairobi county, that evening and money withdrawn in Mulot.
“I have never shared my pin or personal details with anyone. Someone used my Sim card remotely. This is madness. It seemed easy for the third party to use my Sim card. This must be collusion with Safaricom staff,” he said.
Hearing resumes on June 29.
Interestingly, OCPD) Peter Mwanzo told the court how difficult it was for him to replace his own Sim card owing to the many identity details requested by Safaricom.
Investigations have revealed that Gideon Mark and his accomplices — who are at large — had turned Mulot into a hotspot of mobile phone fraud.
The court has summoned the legal teams of Equity Bank, Safaricom and Airtel over the matter.
Hearing continues on June 29.
Mwanzo stated that the suspect who he identified as seated in the dock during the probe confessed to investigating officers that he was a member of the sim swap syndicate group in Mulot in Bomet county known as Confirmed which had been swindling members of the public million of shillings through hacking their emails and mobile numbers of Safaricom and Airtel.
The police boss was testifying in a case where Gideon Mark was charged with defrauding him of half a million through a sim swap pretending to be an agent of Safaricom.
The suspect is alleged to have called the OCPD several times using a private number only to defraud him of his funds at Equity Bank account after obtaining his private information.
The court has now summoned members of the legal teams of Equity bank, Safaricom and Airtel networks to testify on the matter
Also summoned are two prosecution witnesses from Mulot Bomet county who have snubbed summons from the investigating team.
In the matter it is said that police are also tracking down officials from the two giant mobile service providers (Safaricom and Airtel) who have been colluding with the scammers to siphon money from members of the public.
Hearing continues on June 29.