A woman has been arrested on suspicion that she was involved in an M-Pesa fraud syndicate in which an agent in Nyeri lost Sh75,000 on Monday.
The 18-year-old claimed she received a message from an anonymous caller purporting he had wrongly sent her Sh2,850 through the mobile money transfer service, which he wanted back.
She said she then received another call from a second caller, who claimed he was from the Safaricom and wanted to assist the sender of the cash have the money returned by an M-Pesa agent.
The “Safaricom official” told the girl, who is waiting to join university, to save the number as 234 and present the phone to an M-Pesa agent so that he could facilitate return of the cash.
The suspect claimed she was not aware that she was dealing with criminals and innocently presented the phone to an M-Pesa agent.
According to a police officer investigating the incident, the girl was being held on suspicion that she was working in cahoots with the fraudsters, who went on to withdraw Sh75,000, which was part of the Sh120,000 in the M-Pesa agent’s account.
The officer said the fraudsters hacked into the system and accessed money belonging to M-Pesa agents by issuing instructions and directing agents to key in numbers with the intention of “fishing” their PINs.
The M-Pesa agent, who was assisting police with investigations, said she was convinced she was dealing with customer care officials since the number was genuine.
At the time she was receiving the instructions, the suspect said she was unable to check whether the money had entered her account because of the incessant calls from the “Safaricom official” who identified himself as Paul Wambua.
A sister of the suspect said she accompanied her to the M-Pesa agent.
Detectives said the fact that the suspect went to several M-Pesa agents and even convinced them that the caller was genuinely from Safaricom was a pointer she could be part of the cartel.
Police have since confirmed that the money was withdrawn by a Mr Peter Mwanzia.