Survey finds half of mobile users lose cash to fraudsters


A trader counting money. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Half of the mobile phone users have lost their money through fraud and erroneously sending it to the wrong recipients over the past year.

The FinAccess survey found that 47.4 per cent of Kenyans using mobile money have reportedly lost funds a sharp increase from 8.4 per cent two years ago.

Seven out of 10 who lost cash sent it to the wrong recipient who likely withdrew and refused to refund.

The survey indicated the jump in cases of mobile money fraud as a result of increased usage of phones since 2019 when the Central bank of Kenya offered free transactions of up to Sh1,000 during the Covid 19 pandemic.

There has been an increase in cases where culprits spend money sent wrongly to their accounts instead of waiting for the sender to reverse the transaction.

Those who do this, however, risk a two-year jail term Sh200,000 fine or both under Section 35 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act.

“Mobile money account users who reported loss of money was 47.4 percent in 2021 compared to 8.4 percent reported in 2019. This may partly be due to increased use of mobile money during the period,” the FinAccess report read.

“Among mobile money users reported to have faced the risk of losing money, 71.4 percent indicated sending money to wrong number as the key.”

Mobile phone users have been losing money erroneously sent to the wrong people with Safaricom transferring the responsibility to stop transactions to consumers.

Although in 2017, the telco introduced a service, which allows one to reverse money sent to another person in error, the process is not flawless.

Culprits get away with money sent to them in error because one is required to stop a wrong transaction within a minute and once it goes through Safaricom refers victims to report the matter to the police for investigations and prosecution.

If the recipient has not withdrawn the cash then the customers can send the transaction code, via text message, to the number 456 to have the cash transfer suspended.

The Safaricom mobile application has tried to fix this problem by displaying recipients names before confirming a transaction by inputting personal identification numbers.

While this has tremendously reduced cases of people sending money to the wrong recipients it only applies to those with smartphones and internet connections.

Fraud is however not limited to sending money erroneously FinAccess survey says Kenyans also lost money to hoax phone calls or SMSs, and cybercrime and frauds on bank accounts and mobile bank accounts.

Among bank account users, fraud was the main risk identified, with 34.5 percent of respondents indicating that such crimes were internal fraud and 25.9 perpetuated by phone fraud.

[email protected]