Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have arrested eight suspects believed to be part of a well-coordinated fraud syndicate that siphoned over Sh500 million from Safaricom’s overdraft facility, Fuliza, on diverse dates between 2022 and 2023.
Isaack Kipkemoi, Gideon Rono, Maxwell Ributhu, Gideon Kirui, Moses Rono, Collins Kipyegon and Edwin Cheruiyot all aged between 24 and 30 years were arrested at an apartment in Kiamunyi, Nakuru County while the alleged mastermind, Peter Gitahi, was apprehended by sleuths in Kitale, Trans-Nzoia County.
According to the DCI, the suspects would use fraudulently-generated identity card numbers to register SIM cards and borrow money from the overdraft facility before reneging on their obligations to pay back the debts.
The suspects were found in possession of thousands of Safaricom and Airtel SIM Cards.
“Detectives began investigations into this well-choreographed fraud after a report was filled to the Banking Fraud Investigations Unit (BFIU) in August 2022, after the managers of the fund detected an unusual spike in Fuliza loan uptakes that were way above their performance scale and the borrowers were not repaying the loans,” the DCI said in a statement.
“According to sleuths from BFIU, over 123,000 new mobile phone numbers opted into Fuliza and took up loans in January 2022. Thereafter, the SIM cards were either fraudulently vacated or switched off and efforts to reach the customers turned futile.”
Further investigations revealed that the syndicate’s reported ring leader, Peter Gitahi, was responsible for registering the fraudulent SIM cards which he later allegedly sold to his seven accomplices for use.
Detectives believe that Gitahi had access to the National Registration Bureau database which he used to generate the false identity numbers required for SIM registration.
“The detectives also uncovered that some of the lines had been registered as Safaricom agents where the borrowed funds would be deposited to personal bank accounts belonging to the individuals, disguised as MPESA float. The seemingly industrious suspects would initially borrow money and repay thereby improving their credit scores until the SIM cards achieved their limits when they would borrow for the last time before disposing the SIM card.”
“One identity card would be used to register 5 lines in the daring SIM scam perpetuated by the young men, aged between 24-30 years.”
Owing to the scheme, the DCI added, the suspects were able to acquire 2 brand new Subarus, one Toyota Mark X, a Toyota Probox and two motorbikes which have since been impounded.
“Police also recovered 14 mobicom phones used in registering MPESA user SIM cards, 6 laptops over 40 mobile phones, 7 routers, assorted Safaricom lines, over 1000 Safaricom subscribers registration forms, over 200 ATM cards from all major banks, car agreements among other exhibits,” said the DCI.
The suspects are currently being interrogated by detectives pending arraignment.