If you haven’t experienced SIM Card Fraud, consider yourself very lucky. The relatively new, sophisticated form of fraud allows hackers to gain access to bank accounts, credit card numbers, and other personal data. It’s tough to spot, and even tougher to undo the resulting damage.
In Kenya, one Twitter user called Sammy, whose Twitter handle is (@sammy_ynwa) threaded his experience at the hands of SIM card scam artistes on Twitter, leading to public uproar which led to the consequent nabbing of two suspects arrested on Friday in connection with a SIM card fraud syndicate.
Dear @bobcollymore , I am a Safaricom customer with Tel No. 07213***73.
I am a victim of a scam that happened to me yesterday. I got a call and I quickly realised that this is one of the cons and I disconnected the call without sharing any information.
— Sammy (@sammy_ynwa) July 16, 2018
Among items recovered from the suspects, Maurice Musoti an employee of mobile telecommunication service provider Safaricom, and Rian Obaga Nyagaka a fourth year student studying Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology were 2,160 unused SIM cards.
— DCI KENYA (@DCI_Kenya) July 20, 2018
The detectives also recovered 44 used SIM cards, five till agent numbers, three mobile money transfer registry books, an Internet Booster Router, and two mobile phones.
The arrests came at a time of heightened vigilance following increased cases of fraudulent SIM swaps that have led to the siphoning of thousands of shillings from mobile money accounts.
Following the concerns, Safaricom had issued a statement on Friday urging customers to ignore requests to divulge personal information to strangers posing as customer care officials.
“As a precautionary measure against social engineering, enabled by sharing of personal details, we would also like to remind our customers to safeguard information such as SIM and M-PESA PINs, dates of birth and national identity numbers,” Safaricom’s Risk Management Director, Nicholas Mulila said.
He advised customers to report any suspicious interference through dedicated customer service hotlines in addition to notifying the police.
“We wish to advise customers to report any suspected interference with their SIM Cards or theft of personal details to us by calling 100 or 200, or via a text message to 333 for assistance,” Mulila implored.
“Safaricom does not ask for personal information, and only contacts customers through our official number – 0722 000 000. If called by anybody purporting to be a Safaricom customer care representative using a different number, you are advised to immediately end the call and dial our customer care line 100 or 200 for clarification and assistance,” he added.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) had also issued a statement on Thursday cautioning mobile telecommunication subscribers against divulging personal information.
“Never divulge any of your PINs to anyone, not even the mobile money service provider or agent. Fraudsters want you to act first and think later. If the request conveys a sense of urgency, or uses high-pressure tactics be skeptical; never let their urgency influence your careful review,” CAK’s Director General Francis Wangusi said.