Ten suspects arrested in Nakuru and Kitale over claims of stealing Sh449.6 million through a digital borrowing platform popularly known as Fuliza registered hundreds of SIM cards and took loans with no intention of repaying the money.
A police officer investigating the matter said the suspects would then transfer the money from the mobile phones to various bank accounts and mobile banking platforms and then switch off the SIM cards.
“This is a clear case of fraud wherein the respondents hatched a meticulous plan of acquiring several sim cards, opening many bank accounts and applying for Fuliza loans with intentions of not paying back,” corporal Knocker Nyasinga, who is attached to the Banking Fraud Unit said in the application filed before a Milimani Court.
The officer further revealed that over 123,000 mobile phone subscribers joined Fuliza and borrowed loans between January and July 2022 and thereafter switched off their SIM cards, making it difficult to reach them.
Mr Nyasinga made the revelation in an application to continue holding the suspects for 10 days to allow him to complete the investigations and arrest their accomplices.
He told the court that the suspects were using fraudulently generated identity card numbers to register the SIM cards before proceeding to borrow money through the mobile platform.
The suspects are Isaac Kipkemoi, Gideon Rono, Moses Rono, Collins Kipyegon, Maxwell Njamba, Edwin Kipkorir and Gideon Kipkoech.
Others are Mr Peter Gitahi, Brenda Chepng’eno and Linda Cherono and the police said they are investigating them in connection to conspiracy to defraud contrary to section 393 of the penal code and stealing.
Mr Nyasinga said a complaint was made by NCBA bank head of security Noah Cheptumo on fraudulent transactions made through Fuliza.
The suspects opposed the application saying the police have not given sufficient reasons to continue holding them.
Their lawyer Ham Lagat said they have fixed homes in Nakuru and other parts of the country, while some of them are students and can present themselves to the police as and when required.
“The application is bereft of substance and we urge the court to reject the application because pre-trial detention has now been settled by courts,” Mr Lagat said.
The suspects were arrested when the police raided a house in Kiamunyi in Nakuru and Kitale Hilltop in Kitale town.
The police officers seized seven laptops, seven routers, 40 mobile phones, over 200 Safaricom agent lines, over 3,000 Safaricom lines, 10 identity cards, 14 Safaricom registering machines (MoBiGo), and assorted electronic and motor vehicles.
The police said they believe that the suspects are among mobile bank syndicates terrorising financial institutions.
They suspect that their accomplices are hiding in Kericho, Bomet, Narok and Ol Kalou areas, as some fled during the raids.
Mr Nyasinga said they should be detained to allow the police complete investigations, and also allow them to analyse the laptops, SIM cards and other items that were seized.
The court will rule on the application on Monday, February 13.