Safaricom sends home 33 employees as fraud war escalates


City residents queue outside a Safaricom shop along Kimathi Street, Nairobi on April 7, 2022. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

Safaricom fired 33 employees in the year ended March 2023 for fraud-related offences, marking a 37.5 percent jump from the 24 dismissed the year before.

The revelation is contained in the telco’s annual report which notes that incidents and sophistication of fraudsters had grown.

Read: M-Pesa 'store number' to tame cash loss

The giant firm states that fraud attempts mainly affected SIM-swap services that were mitigated by proactive monitoring and digitising solutions.

SIM swap occurs when a criminal claims a false identity, pretends their card is lost and convinces a mobile operator to replace it.

That's how criminals gain access to one's contacts, banking details, emails and social accounts.

Safaricom says it has established a whistle-blowing policy that enables anonymous reporting of fraud on top of rolling out periodic customer awareness campaigns.

“Safaricom has a whistle-blowing policy that provides for an ethics hotline managed by an independent, accredited and external institution. Through the hotline, anonymous reports on unethical/fraudulent behaviour can be made without fear of retaliation from the suspected individuals,” reads the report.

Online spaces are awash with consumer complaints decrying theft of funds from their M-Pesa wallets either by way of transfer without authorisation or unsanctioned borrowing.

In March, Safaricom stepped up the war against fraud by rolling out an “ATM Vicinity Check” technology to ensure cash withdrawals can only be conducted if the customer is within the vicinity of the machine.

Read: Safaricom plans two new venture capital subsidiaries

The solution, which the telco offered to commercial banks for free, was designed to arrest cases of banking fraud where criminals use victims’ cards and/or information to withdraw funds from ATM points.

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