Mobile ‘loans from grave’ join Safaricom class suit


A mobile subscriber holds a new SIM card. FILE PHOTO | NMG

At least four Kenyans among them a widow whose husband allegedly ‘took loans using his mobile phone from the grave’ have joined a class action suit filed against Safaricom and Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) after falling victim to a SIM card swap fraud.

Ms Agnetta Makhoha says in an affidavit filed in court that her husband Anselmy Onyango Opiyo died in August last year but soon after his burial, she discovered that his mobile phone number was SIM swapped and fraudsters borrowed about Sh50,000.

Others who have joined the case seeking to cite CA and Safaricom for negligence include businessman Bashir Farah who lost over Sh2 million from his bank accounts, Felix Kipruto who lost Sh645,000 and Mary Migwi, whose identity card number was used to register a Safaricom line and a fraudster borrowed M-Shwari loan of Sh2,300.

The case was filed by Abdi Zeila who claims to have lost nearly Sh0.5 million via the scam on March 28, last year.

This was after fraudsters withdrew Sh373,000 from his bank account at NCBA -- which has been linked to his mobile phone, took a mobile loan of Sh66,440, another Sh24,000 from KCB-M-Pesa and a Fuliza loan of Sh12,000.

SIM swap scams occur when a criminal convinces a mobile operator to issue them with a replacement SIM card by claiming a false identity and pretending that their mobile phone has been lost or pinched.

Ms Makhoha says in her suit papers that she discovered soon after the burial of her husband that his mobile number was not in service.

She made inquiries at Safaricom and was allegedly told there was a SIM swap on the line.

Further investigations revealed that the fraudster made the SIM swap through an agent at Junction Mall by a man who presented himself as her late husband, requesting the swap.

Ms Makhoha says she complained to the telcos but the firm declined to reverse the SIM swap or provide details of when it happened to enable her to take further action.

She says the mobile phone number was only restored when her advocate made inquiries because the line was required to finalise a land transaction, as it was used for communication and receiving updates from the land registry before her husband passed on.

Ms Makhoha says she discovered that fraudsters had taken loans amounting to Sh49,881 including M-Shwari Sh5,232, Timiza Sh13,815, KCB loan Sh2,715 and Fuliza Sh28,119.

She says the beneficiary of the loans is a man identified as Charles Murungi after police investigated the matter. Safaricom, she says, has not taken any action against the fraudster.

“The estate and my family are in complete angst and anxiety as a result of these developments and are taken aback by the 1st defendant’s reluctance to admit liability and take action for violations which are clearly attributable to its negligence or complicity,” she said.

Mr Kipruto says he lost Sh645,000 after scammers used his father’s Pius Chelimo mobile number to blackmail him while he was out of the country.

He says his father left the country on September 19, last year for a trip to Germany and while he was there, he received a message through WhatsApp from his father directing him to send Sh63,000 to a man identified as Andrew, to settle a medical bill.

He later received another message allegedly asking him to send another number Sh100,000 and another Sh500,000, which he would be refunded soon after jetting back from Germany.

On his return, Kipruto says his father informed him that his mobile number was off throughout his stay, only to discover that there was a SIM swap.

Ms Migwi, from Mombasa, says she discovered on June 24, last year that her national identity card was used to register another number, which was used to borrow a Mshwari loan of Sh2,300.

The case will be mentioned on March 29 for directions.

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