How police set a trap for Safaricom staff in betting data leak suit


Safaricom PLC headquarters in Westlands, Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

A police officer on Thursday narrated how they arrested two senior employees of Safaricom #ticker:SCOM as they attempted to sell information about gambling trends on millions of subscribers to a leading sports betting firm.

Mr Peter Maina said the telco raised a complaint with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) about subscriber data leakage on betting trends.

The complaint came after a man identified as Benedict Kabugi Ndung’u sent the leaked data on subscribers betting trends to a senior Safaricom executive with the intention of getting payout to prevent release of the information to the public.

The officer who is seconded to Safaricom’s fraud investigation unit by the DCI, said they tracked down Mr Kabugi and arrested him on June 6, 2019, on Waiyaki Way.

“We laid a trap and arrested him as they conversed about data leakage with another suspect identified as Charles Njuguna,” he said.

Upon their arrest, the two allegedly told the police that it was Safaricom employees Simon Billy Kinuthia and Brian Njoroge Wamatu, who had supplied them with the data.

Mr Kinuthia was a senior manager in charge of networks and M-Pesa systems auditor while Mr Njoroge was the head of regional expansion at the telco. They have been charged with demanding Sh300 million from the company by threats.

The two intended to sell the subscriber information and reached out to Mr Kabugi and Mr Njuguna to get to the betting firm.

The police then used Mr Kabugi to lure the Safaricom employees to a restaurant in Kilimani, where they were arrested and later charged.

Following their arrest, the police said they were shown how the Safaricom employees managed to access the data, send it to a google drive controlled by Mr Kinuthia, who then shared it with his colleague and Mr Kabugi. The suspects downloaded it to their personal laptops, which were seized by the police.

Other than demanding money with threats, Mr Kinuthia and Mr Njoroge have been charged with computer fraud and illegally copying and transferring privileged information on a subscriber, from the company’s database and sharing it with an unauthorised person.

It is alleged that they unlawfully copied and transferred privileged a subscriber's data information from Safaricom database to Kimani, with intent to defraud. They allegedly committed the offence between May 1 and June 7, 2019.

The two are accused of breaching their contractual and statutory duty by sharing confidential information on betting trends, with a view to selling it to a leading sports betting company.

Mr Maina was testifying before Milinai chief magistrate Wendy Kagendo.

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