Puzzle of stolen ID used in Sh2.7m M-pesa transaction

Mr Anthony Mugo

Anthony Mugo, a victim of identity theft speaks on his predicament during the interview at Nation Center on May 18, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Nothing could be as scary as knowing that someone out there is carrying out cash transactions running into millions of shillings using a mobile phone number registered in your name.

That is the bizarre reality Mr Anthony Mugo, 57, has had to contend with over the past three weeks. This was after discovering that someone unknown to him had for the past six months transacted more than Sh2.7 million using a Sim card registered using Mr Mugo’s identity card.

It all began on April 25, when Mr Mugo walked into the Kilimani Branch of Equity Bank seeking a loan.

To his utter shock, Mr Mugo was told he could not get a loan as he had been adversely listed by a credit reference bureau (CRB) as a defaulter. This was news to him, as he had not applied for any loan.

Alarmed, he contacted a Transunion CRB agent via WhatsApp at 10:27am the following day.

In a conversation that lasted up to 11:10am, Mr Mugo learned that records showed that he had defaulted on a Sh6,742 loan extended via Fuliza, (a credit facility offered by M-pesa to clients with insufficient funds to complete a transaction).

“You are listed because of a loan default with NCBA Bank… For you to be de-listed, you have to make a complete payment plus a Sh2,200 clearance fee. That is 6743+2,200,” the response stated.

“Through which number was the loan taken?” Mr Mugo asked.

The CRB agent realised something was amiss and told Mr Mugo that there had been a mistake and that the loan would be written off.

“All you have to do now is pay a Sh2,200 clearance fee,” the agent said. Mr Mugo decided not to pay the fee. A few hours later, he was at the Junction Mall branch of NCBA Bank on Ngong Road. He, however, did not manage to have his name cleared. “I was told to contact Safaricom,” Mr Mugo said.

“In December, Safaricom cleared all the other numbers that had been linked to my ID and after checking using the USSD code *106#, it was clear that only my current line remained in the system,” Mr Mugo said.

He dialled *106# in the presence of this reporter and Safaricom sent back details of only one number.

Mr Mugo walked into a Safaricom shop at the Junction Mall and reported his predicament. However, he only received four messages, sent between April 26 and May 8, informing him that his case had been noted and it would be resolved.

“Dear esteemed customer, your query has been logged on (Mugo’s phone number) under ticket 1-5ZD5QNY9 and will be resolved in 72 hours,” the first message, which was sent on April 26, said.

Two more messages came on April 30, noting his query had been logged under ticket numbers 1-5ZDEDWEU and 1-5ZDJ4VVB. Both messages said his case would be resolved within 48 hours. Two weeks of silence followed.

Unsettled, Mr Mugo went to the Safaricom offices on May 12 and was furnished with the details of the transactions beginning October 1, 2021 to May 11.

It turned out that besides taking a Sh6,743 loan, the fraudster had actually transacted a total of Sh2,726,667 over the past six months. More than 19 transactions had been completed between January 9 and April 5.

Eight of the transactions were deposits totalling Sh395,489, an amount that was withdrawn in 11 transactions. The suspected fraudster had deposited a total of Sh240,430 on January 18 in four tranches and withdrawn Sh240,374 in four separate transactions on the same day.

“I was utterly disappointed!” he said. Safaricom’s Head of Corporate Communications Wachira Kangaru promised that the matter would be looked into.

“Let him come to our offices in Westlands or you can also share his details with us and we shall sort out this issue very quickly,” Mr Kangaru told the Nation.

Asked whether such incidents are common, Mr Kangaru was cagey: “I would need to ask the team but I doubt that is the case.”

Kabete sub-county police boss Francis Wahome asked Mr Mugo to immediately report to him or the sub-county criminal investigations officer in Dagoretti.


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