Four suspects were Tuesday arraigned in court for stealing from the dead in a suspected syndicate where they swap sim cards to steal money from bank accounts of deceased people.
In the first file, suspects Muguna Mutembei and Ayugu Eugene Shivachi were charged with 12 counts of stealing Sh.2.2 million from Amos Ngata Muiruri.
Ngata died following a botched surgery at a local hospital on November 22, 2020, with the suspects allegedly stealing the money from his accounts at KCB, Equity Bank, and NCBA.
Police investigations revealed that barely a week after Ngata was buried on December 2, 2020, one of his sons discovered that his father’s phone which he used for mobile bank transactions had suddenly gone offline.
The line is said to have been swiftly activated on another unknown phone. The son reported the matter to Safaricom and the line was reverted to the family, after which they discovered that more than Sh2 million had been stolen through mobile bank applications.
Ngata’s children visited the banks and confirmed the cash had been transferred to an unknown telephone number prompting them to report to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for action.
During their investigations, detectives also discovered that the line which was used to wipe Ngata’s accounts had been registered to Rev Peter Kania Kariuki, the PCEA Secretary-General who succumbed to Covid-19 on July 26, 2020.
According to the police, the fraudsters had also stolen Sh500,000 from Rev Kania’s bank account without the knowledge of his widow and his children.
The line which Rev Kania used before he died was also used to steal money from many other Kenyans, mostly wealthy individuals whose obituaries had been placed in the newspapers.
According to police, the fraudsters also target telephone lines of the elderly and those who have traveled abroad.
“They normally strike soon after the person dies and before the family establishes the exact wealth in the deceased’s bank accounts,” said Kinoti.
In court on Tuesday, the accused persons Muguna Mutembei and Ayugu Eugene Shivachi were released on a cash bail of Sh500,000 each and directed to avail two contact persons.
In the second file, the two were charged alongside Jane Wacuka Gathogo and Morris Koome Riungu with stealing 39 sim cards from different subscribers, mostly deceased.
They were released on a cash bail of Sh.200,000 each.
Meanwhile, joint investigations by the Operations Branch, Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau (CRIB), and Special Service Unit (SSU) are ongoing to crack open the gang’s operations.
The gang’s leader is said to be a former IT staff at a local bank.
Detectives have asked victims to report to the Operations Branch at the DCI headquarters.