How fraudsters steal from Kenyans through KPLC power bills

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti speaking at DCI headquarters in Kiambu. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Investigations have revealed how fraudsters collude with Kenya Power (KP) staff to steal from Kenyans through manipulation of the system and inflation of power bills.

Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) say the theft involves a powerful and intricate web of cartels involving KP staff and outsiders.

Last year alone, the detectives found how KP lost at least Sh100 million - Sh65 million from postpaid customers and Sh35 million from pre-paid.

George Kinoti, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss, says Kenyans had complained for a long time how KP was inflating their power bills.

This, he says, prompted investigations which started in April last year. The DCI boss said they have now found out how the intricate web works.

“The cartels should now know that we have discovered some of the ways they use to steal from Kenyans through power bills,” he said.

He vowed that once all the investigations are done, things will never be the same again for the thieves. The theft cases involve postpaid, prepaid and large power consumers, who control 60 per cent of the total revenue.

The matter was also raised by former Law Society of Kenya chief executive Apollo Mboya, who accused KP of overcharging Kenyans by inflating their bills.

According to detectives, the KP staff have allowed or granted outsiders access to the company’s system even when they are outside, where they manipulate and control operations in the offices.

The detectives revealed most of the fraud cases that they have followed traces their way to Kisii County. They have been able to find thousands of transactions where money was lost.

“In this process, when the money is paid, it ends up in individuals' bank accounts. This involves cartels across the country,” said detective Walter Oginga.

The detectives have been able to trace some of the accounts that have received money acquired through fraudulent activities and also tokens.

Another detective, Stephen Manyalla, explains other brokers hover around KP offices, where they monitor customers who come to complain about or clear their bills. Those with especially with huge bills are tricked to pay less.

“Once they pay, the brokers in collusion with KP staff clear the huge Kenya Power bills with less money,” he explained.

Still, others who go reading KP meters in homes approach and convince customers to pay less and their bills will be cleared.

The detectives now warn Kenyans against buying cheap tokens because they will eventually end up in police custody for colluding with criminals.

“Kenyans should avoid buying tokens from unknown people or from fraudulent sources,” they warned.

The detectives said in their investigations they found out that KP is not sensitising the public on transactions, making them easy prey to fraudsters.

They revealed that since they started investigations, KP has suspended some staff while others have been reshuffled.

“We do not know exactly what is happening there, but we can tell since we started investigations, some people have been suspended and others reshuffled,” an investigator said.

He added already they have individuals who will be charged as investigations go on.