Kasarani Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Peter Mwanzo on Monday, May 23, 2022, narrated how he fell victim to a sim card swapping syndicate that left his accounts dry on the night of January 4, 2022.
"Within less than 12 hours, a whopping Ksh597,100 had been transferred from my Equity bank account to Mpesa, sent to an unknown phone number and withdrawn in Mulot, Bomet county. How this happened is a miracle," he told court.
It all started by receiving a phone call through a private number.
"The private number called several but l did not pick. I put my phone on flight mode to avoid disturbance. Upon turning on the phone it had no network," Mwanzo informed the court.
He added that following the frustration over lack of network the whole night of January 4 he decided to visit a Safaricom shop in Kasarani area the following day at 8:00 am.
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 was reactivated.
"Moments later, l tried to purchase airtime and send money but the transaction failed and got a message that l had exceeded my limits," the senior officer told the court.
"I also received several messages including those that informed me that l had registered with a Fuliza account and Airtel Money. I had never applied for any loan or registered with Airtel."
Following the revelations, the officer said that he immediately sought for his Mpesa and Equity bank statements to confirm if indeed the alleged transactions were conducted by a third party.
"To my surprise, within 12 hours, l had transacted from an Equity Bank account to M-pesa to a tune of Ksh597,100. The amount was transacted over the night and withdrawn via an agent number in Mulot Bomet county," he said.
He took the court through the statement which indicates that the money was transferred in four tranches.
At 19:14 pm, a sum of Ksh150,000 was withdrawn from his bank account to Mpesa and transferred to another number in Mulot.
Six minutes later, Ksh147,000 was withdrawn and six minutes past midnight another Ksh150,000 was withdrawn while the last transaction of Ksh150,100 was conducted a minute later.
"They were abnormal withdrawals which l could not explain how they were happening, "Mwanzo said.
However, the officer said that through the help of the Criminal Intelligence Unit with the DCI and interrogation of Safaricom staff, l understand that my sim card was easily switched or swapped by someone who was at Donholm, Nairobi county that evening and money was withdrawn at a point in Mulot Bomet county.
"I could not explain how it happened as l have never shared my pin or personal details with anyone. This is madness. It seemed easy for the third party to use my sim card," the officer said.
Interestingly, he told court that it was difficult to replace the Sim card because of the details he was being asked at the Safaricom shop to prove his identity.
The officer further informed the court investigations into his matter revealed that a Mark and his accomplices who are still at large have turned Mulot into one of the hotspots of mobile phone fraud in the country.
Mwanzo stated that the suspect who he identified as seated in the dock during the probe revealed that he is a member of the sim swap syndicate group in Mulot in Bomet county known as Confirmed which has been swindling members of the public millions of shilling through hacking their emails and mobile phone numbers.
He urged the court to order the refund of the money and the telecommunication to take responsibility for continuously keeping a system that can easily be manipulated and abused by criminals to freeze innocent people their hard-earned money.
"Safaricom ought to take responsibility. There are many complaints of sim swap," the officer said.
The police boss was testifying in a case where Gideon Mark was charged with defrauding him half a million through a sim swap pretending to be an agent of Safaricom.
The suspect is alleged to have called the OCPD severally using a private number only to defraud him of his funds at Equity Bank account after obtaining his private information.
However, the court has issued summons against members of the legal teams of Equity bank, Safaricom and Airtel networks to testify in the matter
Also summoned are two prosecution witnesses from Mulot in Bomet county who have snubbed the investigation.
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 the members of the public.
The hearing continues on June 29.