Stealing from credit cards to land you two years in Jail

Customers queue outside an M-Pesa shop in Nairobi
Customers queue outside an M-Pesa shop in Nairobi

Manipulation of electronic payment systems to deduct more or less money than required will see you jailed for two years, fined Sh200,000 or both.

This is according to Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act, 2018 which President Uhuru Kenyatta ratified on Wednesday.

Any person convicted of the crime will further lose the profits made from the stolen money to the customer, bank or affected financial institutions.

The act is aimed at dealing with computer and Cybercrime cases that have seen Kenya lose up to Sh21 billion last year as recorded in the 2017 Africa Cyber Security Report by IT consulting firm Serianu.

Findings of the report revealed that over Sh18 billion was withdrawn from victim accounts with banks compensating nearly the same amount.

The loss made was a 30 per cent increase from that recorded in 2016.

Most crimes were targeting financial institutions specifically coming from Automated Teller Machines- ATMs and banking malware uploaded on the bank computers.


In addition to manipulation of electronic payment systems, anyone found hiding or detaining money wrongly transferred to them through electronic payments such as M-pesa, Airtel Money, T-cash or credit and debit cards will suffer the same consequences.

The same jail term and fine will apply to those unlawfully destroying electronic messages or process in which money was conveyed.

In June 2012, an 18-year-old lady was arrested on suspicion that she was involved in an M-Pesa fraud syndicate in which an agent in Nyeri lost Sh75,000.

Police officers investigating the lady told the press that the lady was suspected to be working with fraudsters engaged in phishing- illegal acquisition of passwords.

Five years later, another woman from Embu was jailed for six months for using Sh27,140 that was accidentally sent to her Mpesa account.

The Serianu report shows that the above methods used to swindle money from unsuspecting Kenyans is common.

Other methods used include Sim card swiping, social engineering where victims were duped to send money and credit card fraud.


More to the above financial-related crimes, Section 39 of the act targets persons who send wrong electronic credit or debit messages or confirmation of funds transferred.

This group consist of person authorised to use a computer or any electronic device for purposes of carrying out financial transactions.

They include accountants and mobile money agents among others.

Those found to have committed this crime will be jailed for a period not exceeding two years, fined not more than Sh200,000 or both.


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