Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata has claimed crooks hacked his phone number and tried to demand a Sh20 million bribe allegedly to protect him from being investigated by the Communications Authority of Kenya.
He complained to the police about a telephony fraudster scheme that sought to demand the money from him after sending fake messages to people.
On Sunday, he reported to Maragua Police Station saying "someone manipulating my personal mobile phone number sent at least 2,000 people messages on their mobile phones to create an impression that I sent them Sh5,000 each and reversed it."
He says the messages were sent to his close allies who helped him host an economic brainstorming forum at Gakoigo stadium in Maragua Constituency where the Deputy President Dr William Ruto was the chief guest.
Dr Kang'ata said those who received the message called or sent him messages complaining they could not withdraw the money since it appeared “locked.”
The intended purpose, he said, was to create an impression that he sent the money then reversed it, which is untrue.
The senator claimed he later received a call in which a demand of Sh20 million 'ransom' was made so that the Communications Authority could be influenced not to institute an integrity probe on him regarding misuse of his money transfer sim card rights.
The caller, according to Dr Kang'ata, said the probe would have damaging consequences on his gubernatorial bid and “might lead to his disqualification to contest the August 9 General Election.”
Murang'a South Police Boss Alexander Shikondi confirmed to Nation.Africa that the senator has been allotted OB No. 12/22/05/22 and the case referred to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
"The message is an outright technological mischief designed to malign the complainant's name," said the police boss.
The senator said he suspects the mischief to have emanated from within the county "where we have crooks with sophisticated technological plants being used to con people."
Mr Shikondi said the message source is hosted by a sophisticated technology where con persons possess an illegal communication gadget from Taiwan used to send fake texts within a set radius.
"But the good thing is that we are trailing some individuals and we are zeroing in on one prime suspect. We will release details as we get a definite picture. But we have an idea that the origin of the message was a location in the neighbouring Kigumo Sub County," he said.
He said the fake messaging was ascertained to have been done by a machine that does alphanumerical masking.
According to Nicholas Wachira who runs Imaging Techno Services Ltd in Thika Town, data masking generates fake but realistic versions of genuine data.
"Data masking processes alter the original component of the data while still retaining the original format. The fake data is a duplicate of the genuine copy but it gets used without the genuine copy transacting hence making it hard to detect," he said.
In the context of the Dr Kang'ata case, Mr Wachira said "the layman's explanation is that his mobile phone number was masked and was made to transact without the original number's involvement.
He explained that organisations that are host to sensitive data also "legally mask the data and alter it to create diversionary copies that will not subject the original copies to cyber-attacks as well as harvesting endeavors."