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Sh230,000 stolen as fraudsters clean Kisumu man’s bank savings

By Byrone Roche | August 11th 2019
The businessman says he has now engaged a lawyer to help him to follow up on the matter after the bank reportedly told him they were not in a position to help him. [Courtesy]

A Kisumu businessman has lost Sh229,894 to bank and mobile phone fraudsters.

George Omondi, a cattle trader, said the fraudsters cleaned up his bank account after making four successive withdrawals via M-Pesa, a month after he opened the account at the Kenya Commercial Bank Kisumu West branch.

A tearful Omondi said he received strange calls from people claiming to be the bank staff soon after he opened the account before being scammed.

"They keep on asking me questions. They sent several codes to my phone. I was busy in the market so I didn't respond," said Ogallo.

M-Pesa withdrawals

He said he opened the account on June 14 and made deposits on June 15 and 17, a day before the fraudsters struck.

Certified bank documents show the fraudsters first made two hefty withdrawals of Sh69,999 each on July 18 on M-Pesa transaction transfer through phone number 0710924109.

A similar withdrawal was recorded the following day through phone number 0717316413, and the final withdrawal of Sh20,000 using phone number 0710924109, leaving Mr Omondi with a paltry Sh1,151 in his new account.

Omondo said he had opened the account to help him save money after starting a livestock sales business, but things have changed for the worst.

Unable to help

He said managers at the KCB Kisumu West branch who had helped him to open an account told him they could not help him recover the money.

"They asked me to write a complaint letter which I did. But the branch manager told me investigations can take up to 8 months. I then went and reported the matter to the police, which too, were unwilling to help me," said Omondi.

He said he has now engaged a lawyer who is helping him to follow up on the matter.

"These people have finished me. I had just started the livestock business and now with my money all gone, my world has crumbled," said Omondi.

One of the numbers used to call Omondi was still active by Friday, August 9. When the Sunday Standard called the number, the person on the other end claimed the number belonged to KCB investigations department in Nairobi. He, however, hurriedly disconnected before we could ask him questions.

The number remained active yesterday though, but efforts to reach it failed as it was not being picked. The True caller showed it is registered as 'KCB Maseno'. When we called again, the receiver declined to identify himself before disconnecting.

The Kisumu West branch official who did not want to be named told the Sunday Standard they are aware of the case, but had referred it to the bank's forensic investigators.

"I am not allowed to discuss anything fraud. Kindly call our forensic department in Nairobi," the official said.

Mr Omondi, who is recovering from a road accident, however, insisted he was a victim of fraudsters working closely with some bank's staff.

Inside job

"I want the Banking Fraud unit to investigate how the fraudsters knew I had opened the account and how they got my number. Strangely, these things happened too fast. I had not even received my ATM card by the time the thieves struck," said Mr Omondi.

“Those who called asked me to take some documents to the bank and receive my ATM."

“I did not engage them in a conversation and the callers kept sending me messages asking me questions and telling me to give them codes that were being sent to the phone,”he said.

 He says that he did not send the codes and went to the bank after receiving the calls and the numerous texts and wanted to understand why they were calling him, only for him to learn that his account had been emptied.

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