Thugs using black magic to rob mobile money agents in Nairobi

With heightened 24-hour police patrols in Eastlands following a string of robberies targeting M-Pesa shops, thieves are now using juju to confuse shop attendants before cleaning their floats, victims claim.

Most M-Pesa attendants in Eastland say they have no clue how the smooth operators melt away with their cash without raising suspicion. 

The victims of black magic are mainly from Kayole, Komarock, Ummoja, Donholm and Pipeline. Grapevine has it that the thugs source the juju from Tanzania.

Queenter Akinyi, an M-Pesa attendant cannot comprehend how she lost Sh60,000 in a record three minutes.

“It happened so fast and I only realised I had been duped after they left,” an angry Akinyi told The Nairobian.

Two men had walked into her shop posing as customers who wanted to deposit Sh40,000. Shortly after, they changed their mind on whether to deposit or withdraw cash. In the process, they engaged Akinyi in small talk before they executed their plan.

Akinyi claims she soon found herself acting on their orders and cannot comprehend how she transfered Sh40,000 to a number the two men gave her.

She came back to her senses after the thieves had left with the entire float she had that morning. 

“I only realised they had cleaned me out after they left and it was strange because I am always very careful with strangers who come to the shop,” she said. 

Akinyi who was employed in the shop has been forced to take a break after the owner of the shop said he needed to cool off after the loss.

“My boss was mad at me and closed the shop, promising to call me. A week later, he is yet to do so,” she said.

Akinyi maintains that what happened to her was not a normal robbery and that the men used something to influence her actions.

“I acted like a fool and I still cannot figure out how I just gave them money that stupidly,” she told The Nairobian.

Vicky Kandie who runs an M-Pesa shop in Embaksai also lost Sh46,000 after a man posing as a customer  went to withdraw money, but acted like he was having some challenges and started calling those who sent him the money.

The callers requested to talk to the M-Pesa attendant who obliged, not knowing that she was walking into a trap.

The male caller asked for the agent number which Kandie gave out, but after some instructions which Kandie cannot remember, her M-Pesa account had a glitch, prompting the ‘customer’ to leave as if he was going to another M-Pesa shop.

When Kandie’s phone started functioning properly after 15 minutes or so, she had lost the entire float.

“There was some sort of system jam and I couldn’t do anything. Little did I know that I was being robbed,” she said.

George Mbugua who lost Sh70,000 when his M-Pesa shop was also raided along Outering Road in a similar fashion had opted to take action against the shop attendant, but with the new revelations, he is contemplating withdrawing the charges he was planning to prefer against the attendant.

“I will have to reconsider my stand because at first I thought the woman conspired with the thieves to steal from me,” he said. 

The attendant was instructed by someone who called her on her personal number after withdrawing Sh600 from the shop, before calling her to reverse the money. It was during this conversation that the young woman transferred Sh70,000 to the con men.

“They used a land line number and said they were from Safaricom and ended up confusing and robbing her,” Mbugua said.

Police have however dismissed the reports and urged M-Pesa agents to be extra careful, saying thieves have gone hi-tec after police increased surveillance. A CID officer who did not want to be named also urged victims to report such incidents to police so that action can be taken.

Kayole police boss Philip Lenkidi said they will investigate the matter when such reports reach them.

“No reports have reached us to that effect, but our officers are out there and anyone engaging in criminal activities will be dealt with according to the law,” he promised.

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