Steve Chege
Stephen Chege, Director, Corporate Affairs, Safaricom

Steve Chege

We recently highlighted that at least 22 suspects had been arrested in connection with the recent SIM swap fraud cases that got public attention after it was brought to light just how many millions of shillings scammers mint from unsuspecting Kenyans through social engineering that leads to SIM swapping and eventually looting of money through mobile money services.

During the arrests, a number of current and former Safaricom employees were found to be involved in the cartel. Following this, Safaricom through it’s Corporate Affairs Director, Stephen Chege, has come out to acknowledge that indeed there are some of their staff members who may have been compromised and aided the cartels in stealing from Kenyans but they are doing something about it.

While speaking to Techweez, Stephen said that Safaricom has been working closely with the police to identify all those involved in the crimes, a collaboration that has so far led to the arrest of several suspects.

“In any society, we have bad guys and the bad guys tend to be that one step ahead and they keep you on your toes with the system,” said Stephen Chege. “We keep on improving our processes, so it narrows the opportunity for such things to happen.”

Use of Biometrics

Stephen says that a high demand for SIM replacement requests, especially after the weekends pushed the telco to contract some of their dealers and strategic partners to handle these requests to relieve pressure from their service centers and better serve their customers. He acknowledges that this could move could have contributed to some staff members getting involved in the fraudulent cases.

As a precautionary measure, Stephen says that they are looking to improve the procedure of swapping or replacing one’s SIM card. “We are looking at quite a number of things, one of them is making the process biometric. If you want a SIM swap, you can only initiate it through a scan of your fingerprint,” he says.

These changes are meant to serve the customer better, reiterates Mr Chege. “We will introduce more processes that to the customer, are still frictionless but stops fraud through social engineering.” He gives an example that if for instance, if the number to be swapped is still active, the customer care agent will be required to call the said number and verify that indeed a SIM swap request has been placed.

‘Safaricom Doesn’t Care’

Stephen Chege also addressed the complaints that followed after the SIM swap fraud cases were discovered. “We have seen complains such as ‘Safaricom is a bad company’ and ‘Safaricom doesn’t care about its customers’. Customers are the ones who have gotten us where we are, why wouldn’t we care about them?” he added.

There was no timeline given as to when Safaricom subscribers would expect these changes but going with the sensitive nature of the issue, we would say pretty soon.

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