Ever since it was brought to the public attention that there are scammers out there swapping people’s SIM cards and defrauding them of thousands of shillings from their mobile money accounts, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in Kenya has been making a string of arrests in connection with these claims.
The latest burst is the largest, yet. The DCI reported that a total of 30,000 SIM cards, 240 iPhones, 150 Mi Phones, 2 laptops among other electronics were recovered after four suspects were arrested in connection with SIM swap fraud. This brings the total number of people arrested in connection with the case to 22, among them Safaricom employees and University students.
Back on July 18th, controversial Kenyan blog, Kahawa Tungu did an expose on how scammers from Mulot, a small town in Bomet were involved in the SIM swap fraud that saw them mint millions of shillings from unsuspecting Kenyans. Following this expose, on July 20th, the DCI raided the town and arrested the first two suspects, a Safaricom employee and a Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology Engineering student. From them, 2160 unused Safaricom SIM cards were recovered alongside 44 used Safaricom SIM cards, 5 Agent Till numbers and 3 M-Pesa record books.
July 24th, the DCI arrested 3 more suspects followed by two more arrests of Safaricom employees in connection to the ring, on July 25th.
A few days later, July 28th, 11 were arrested and 15,000 SIM cards of various telcos recovered alongside 4 agent lines, an Airtel SIM registration book, agent number, a number of ATM cards and 2 laptops.
Caution Against Sharing of Personal Information
So far, the biggest hit telco has been Safaricom, with most of the reported cases of fraud being through the company’s mobile money service. Despite the negative publicity, the telco issued a statement assuring their customers that they are working with the police to investigate the matter as well as urging customers to refrain from sharing personal information such as PINs to strangers purporting to be Safaricom staff.
As earlier suspected by a section of Kenyans, indeed there have been a number of current and former Safaricom staff members involved in the fraudulent activities and Kenyans will be watching to see what kind of security measures the largest taxpayer will implement to counter these cases as the fraudsters get smarter by the day.