Two women accused of defrauding the Ambassador of Belgium Jerome Roux over Ksh 4.8 million through SIM swap will spend another seven days in custody pending further probe.
Milimani Magistrate Bernard Ochoi allowed the Director of Criminal Investigations Amin Mohammed his request to have the suspects, namely Belinda Jepkemboi and Yvonne Chepkirui, locked up in police cells for seven days to enable them to finalize investigations into allegations of conning the senior officer and other unsuspecting people millions of shillings through SIM swap scam.
"A custodial order is hereby issued for Jepkemboi and Chepkirui to be detained at Gigiri police station Nairobi county for seven days to enable police to complete investigations on the offences stated," Magistrate Ochoi ordered.
The two women who police claim are well known fraudsters based within Kipchimchim in Kericho County are alleged that in March this year, with the help of Safaricom Kenya Limited unlawfully swapped Amb. Roux's line and used it to fraudulently transfer a sum of Ksh4.8 Million from his bank account.
In an affidavit filed in court by the DCI through officer Lawrence Irungu, the police sought to be allowed to continue holding the two suspects saying the investigations into the case involve weighty issues which require ample time as police are expected to travel to Kericho and Bomet counties where they intend to make recoveries of the money.
The court heard that two are believed to belong to a syndicate operating from within Kipchimchim in Kericho County that is defrauding members of the public using mobile money platforms.
"The respondents are well known fraudsters based within Kipchimchim, Kericho County and they form part of a larger syndicate that has for a long time terrorized Kenyans and foreigners in matters regarding SIM swaps, theft among other cyber-related crimes. The said syndicate was involved in the theft of Ksh4.8 million from the ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium Jerome Roux's account whereby some of the accomplices were arraigned in court vide CF E412/2023," Irungu informed the court.
The court heard that the syndicate has vested their energy in defrauding senior elderly Kenyan citizens and foreigners who are pensioners and are enjoying their retirement.
"It is a wide range of fraudsters from various departments including the Ministry of Health, Safaricom as well as various banking institutions within the Republic and investigations in the matter are not yet complete," Irungu said.
The officer also stated that for the past five months, the women have been on the run and have shifted from one town to another where efforts to apprehend them have proved futile, initially from Nairobi to Mombasa to Bomet and lastly at Kericho where the end game was manifested.
Jepkemboi and Chepkirui were arrested on October 14 in Kericho town and police say they intend to charge them with various counts of stealing, conspiracy to defraud, and identify theft contrary to the law.
The DCI detective requested the court to allow its application stating that it is yet to record statements from over 15 victims and other key witnesses who come from different parts of the country.
Irungu said they also need time to recover mobile phones believed to have been used in the alleged crimes and that are in various residents in Nairobi, Mombasa and Bomet counties.
"The offences for which the respondents are being investigated are serious crimes that attract severe penalties. In that regard, respondents are likely to abscond the court's jurisdiction if released at the moment," Irungu said.
He added that there are accomplices at large and the two suspects have agreed to help in their arrest, which will be defeated if they are released at the moment.
Irungu further said Jepkemboi and Chepkirui have more than five registered mobile numbers which are mostly offline and registered under various identities.
This, he added, might make it difficult to reach them.
"A custodial order will be important to the respondents for their safety since the community is very bitter with them after the incident," the officer said.
In mitigation, Jepkemboi urged the court to dismiss the application for detention claiming she has a baby who needs breastfeeding.
Irungu however said the suspect had not brought the same to their attention at the time of arrest.
The matter will be mentioned on October 17.