ROBBING THE DEAD

How cybercrime gang hacked dead PCEA cleric's SIM to steal cash

The syndicate mostly targets wealthy individuals, especially those who have died.

In Summary

• The five suspects are Eugene Shivachi, Morris Koome, Eutycus Mutembei, Jane Wacuka, and Clara Davies.

• The DCI has appealed to anyone who has fallen victim to the SIM swapping syndicate to report to the Operations Branch at the DCI headquarters.

The five prime suspects for defrauding innocent Kenyans through SIM swapping are in police custody and will be arraigned on Wednesday at the Milimani Law Courts.
The five prime suspects for defrauding innocent Kenyans through SIM swapping are in police custody and will be arraigned on Wednesday at the Milimani Law Courts.
Image: DCI

Detectives have arrested five suspects for defrauding innocent Kenyans through SIM swapping and using SIM cards of deceased people to steal.

The five are in police custody and will be arraigned on Tuesday at the Milimani Law Courts.

The police said the cybercriminals have been hijacking the victims' cell phone numbers and using them to gain access to personal data and bank accounts through Mobile Banking Apps.

After taking control of the swapped SIM card, they insert it in their phone, access the financial accounts, and transfer all the funds to other scammed telephone numbers.

Once the cash is withdrawn, they switch off the stolen cards frustrating efforts by detectives to track them down.

The detectives said they have established that dozens of other Kenyans have been defrauded by the multi-faced gang.

According to the sleuths, the syndicate mostly targets wealthy individuals, especially those who have died and their families who have placed their death announcements in newspapers.

They also target telephone lines of the elderly and those who have traveled abroad.

“The telephone lines of those that fall in that category have minimal chances of raising suspicion. They normally strike soon after the person dies and before the family establishes the exact wealth in the deceased’s bank accounts,” the police said.

A subsequent joint investigation by the Operations Branch, Crime Research and Intelligence Bureau (CRIB), and Special Service Unit (SSU) have since opened a can of worms.

It was established that the scammers used the late PCEA Secretary-General Rev Peter Kania Kariuki who died on July 26, 2020, and Nairobi businessman Amos Ngata Muiruri's lines to execute their dirty business.

During the investigations, it emerged that the telephone number which was used to clean up Ngata’s bank accounts was the registered line of Rev Kania before he died.

“The scammers had stolen Sh500,000 from Rev Kania’s bank account without the knowledge of his widow and his children. Unknown to Rev Kania’s family, the telephone line he used before he died had been used to steal money from the late Ngata and many other Kenyans.”

The matter was reported to Safaricom and the line was reverted to the family, and they discovered that more than Sh2.8 million had been stolen through the NCBA App operated by the NCBA Bank Kenya, the Eazzy Banking app for the Equity Bank, and the Mcoop cash app for the Co-operative Bank.

“The children visited the banks and confirmed the cash had been transferred to a different telephone number. They reported the theft to DCI headquarters. one of his sons discovered that the father’s telephone which he used for mobile bank transactions when he was alive had suddenly gone dead. ”

The five suspects are Eugene Shivachi, Morris Koome, Eutycus Mutembei, Jane Wacuka, and Clara Davies.

The DCI has appealed to anyone who has fallen victim to the SIM swapping syndicate to report to the Operations Branch at the DCI headquarters.