Kasarani Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Peter Mwanzo took to the stand on Monday to testify in a case where he lost Sh597,100 in less than 12 hours.
Mwanzo told the court he fell victim to a sim card swapping syndicate on the night of January, 4.
“Within less than 12 hours, a whopping Sh597,100 had been transferred from my Equity bank account to Mpesa, sent to an unknown phone number and withdrawn in Mulot, Bomet county.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 said.
Mwanzo’s nightmare started with phone calls from a private number, which he did not pick up.
“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,” the senior cop recounted.
The lack of network prompted Mwanzo to visit a Safaricom shop in Kasarani area the following morning at around 8 am.
An attendant informed him that his sim card had failed and was advised to replace it. Mwanzo told the court he replaced it and it 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 court heard.
That was not all!
“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,” the officer narrated.
OCPD Mwanzo said he immediately checked his Mpesa and Equity bank statements to confirm the alleged transactions.
“To my surprise, within 12 hours, l had transacted from an Equity Bank account to M-Pesa to a tune of Sh597,100. The amount was transacted over the night and withdrawn via an agent number in Mulot Bomet county,” he said.
He said the money was transferred in four tranches; At 19:14 pm, a sum of Sh150,000 was withdrawn from his bank account to Mpesa and transferred to another number in Mulot.
Six minutes later, Sh147,000 was withdrawn and six minutes past midnight another Sh150,000 was withdrawn. The last transaction of Sh150,100 was conducted a minute later.
“They were abnormal withdrawals which l could not explain how they were happening,” Mwanzo said.
The officer said he sought 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my sim card was easily switched or swapped by someone who was at Donholm, Nairobi county that evening, and money was withdrawn at a point in Mulot Bomet county.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.
The officer said investigations into his matter revealed that a suspect identified as Gideon Mark and his accomplices who are still at large had turned Mulot into one of the hotspots of mobile phone fraud in the country.
Mwanzo said 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. The syndicate has been swindling members of the public millions of shilling through hacking their emails and mobile phone numbers.
The officer urged the court to order a refund of the money and said Safaricom should be held accountable for using a system that can be easily manipulated.
“Safaricom ought to take responsibility. There are many complaints of sim swap,” the officer said.
Mwanzo was testifying in a case where Gideon Mark is charged with defrauding him Sh597,000 through a sim swap pretending to be an agent of Safaricom.
The suspect allegedly called the OCPD severally using a private number only to defraud him of his funds at Equity Bank account after obtaining his private information
The court has issued summons against members of the legal teams of Equity bank, Safaricom and Airtel networks to testify in the matter
The hearing continues on June 29.