How fraudsters stole from a dead man's M-Pesa

M-Pesa interface. SIM swap fraud cases have escalated in recent months. [File, Standard]

More alleged victims of M-Pesa fraud have joined a class case filed against Safaricom as the telco asked the court to dismiss the suit. 

One of those who has joined the case, a widow, claims that fraudsters stole from her dead husband, something she discovered immediately after burying him.

Agneta Sakwa, in her affidavit now before the court, alleges that she called Safaricom and was informed that her late husband Dr Anselmy Onyango had called to request a SIM swap.

This is after she discovered that his line had become inactive.

According to her, she told the telco that Onyango was already deceased and could not have woken up from his resting place for a SIM swap.

The woman says, her request to the firm to reverse the process and disclose who had done the heinous act fell on deaf ears.

She notes that the Safaricom agent was confident that he must have defied death, risen up, and made the request. 

But to Sakwa, this would have been the first one for a dead man to be running his affairs from the grave.

“The customer service agent I met informed me that the agent who authorized the SIM swap was confident that it was indeed the owner of the line who requested it. This caused me emotional distress and anxiety knowing that I had knowledge of where my husband lay and the fact that it was impossible for him to rise from the dead,” narrates the widow.

In her court papers, Sakwa states that when the line was replaced, she noticed messages that Mshwari, Timiza, KCB, and Fuliza loans were all taken in a span of three minutes on August 3, 2022.

The fraudsters had taken Sh5, 232 from Mshwari, Sh13, 815 from Timiza, a KCB loan Sh2,715, and Fuliza Sh28,119.

According to the complainant, they also transferred the accumulated 63,000 Bonga points.

The number at the heart of it, she claims is allegedly owned by one Charles Murungi.

“ I have provided the information to the first defendant (Safaricom) and the police but no action has been taken,” she says. 

Scammers register an existing number on a new SIM card in order to intercept and carry out, among others, online banking. [iStockphoto]

Sakwa’s case is now a part of the class action case filed by Abdi Ziela, who accuses Safaricom, of failing to secure its customers’ SIM cards and M-Pesa from men and women with an appetite for making a living out of theft.

Safaricom wants the case dismissed, arguing that in its terms and conditions with the client, he willingly bound himself to a clause that any dispute should be arbitrated before spilling to court.

"The plaintiff deliberately omitted reference to the existence of an arbitration agreement between it and the first defendant at clause 12 of the Conditions for Use of The Safaricom Services that requires all disputes between him and the first defendant to be referred to arbitration under the Arbitration Act," Kananu Kinya, Safaricom’s lawyer argues.

The lawyer claims that publication of the order inviting anyone who has a claim against the telco is injuring its reputation and business.

According to Safaricom, it should have been allowed to argue Ziela’s case before the court opened the case to other persons.

Another person who has joined the case is Lavington Security managing director Pius Chelimo’s son Felix Chelimo.

He claims that sometime in September last year, fraudsters siphoned Sh645, 000 from him by swapping his father’s Safaricom line.

 He recounts that he got a call from his father’s line after which he transferred a total of Sh645,000 to different lines in the belief the caller from the other end was his father.

He only discovered that his father was also a victim of a sim swap after he informed him that the phone was at the time off as he was in Germany.

At the same time, Mary Migwi claims that she discovered that someone had taken Sh2,300 M-Shwari loan using her name.

Migwi says her national ID was illegally used to register a line and the persons proceeded to take the loan. She states in her court papers that she alerted Safaricom but no action was taken.

Meanwhile, Bashir Farah claims that he lost Sh2 million from a SIM swap.

He claims that he learnt that the fraudsters managed to access his bank account and siphoned the money using his mobile number.

He accuses Safaricom of negligence adding that it was within their knowledge that he was out of the country since their system showed that his number was in roaming mode.

Farah alleges that he had to ask for money to travel back to Kenya since the fraudsters had wiped his account clean.