This past weekend i got the following text from a friend of mine.
Now this looked a bit odd coz normally when my friend is in a fix and needed some cash he would always call personally and ask for the cash of which we would then agree on the terms of payment and such like things. I did not respond or call him immediately coz i was on the road at the time traffic had just opened up so i placed my phone aside and decided to call him later when i stopped.
About an hour later i called his phone which went mteja, called up some of our mutual friends who confirmed they had also received the same distress mpesa text and on calling back his phone was mteja. Some of them had even sent mpesa to his phone. Worried, we decided to call his brother who lives with him and to our relief, our boy (lets christen him Jeff) was safe and sound albeit a little shaken.
So What Transpired?
Well Jef was invited to a house warming party in Thika that Friday and instead of driving there he decided to use public means. On arriving in Thika town at around 9pm he alighted and immediately dialed his friends for directions and this was where things took a turn for the worst. Some two individuals sprung out of nowhere, roughed him up pushing him into a dark alley where a gun was pointed to his head and a knife on his stomach.
The first thug hastily proceeds to remove Jeffs phone from his pocket, forced him to pattern-unlock it then gave it to his accomplice to peruse it. After just a few seconds of perusal, thug no.2 asks Jeff for his Mpesa pin cautioning him that giving the wrong pin would get him stabbed severally and shot. Scared for his life, Jeff agrees and gives them his Mpesa pin of which its authenticity is verified by thug(2) who checks the Mpesa balance using the pin. He then asks him for his Eazzypay and Coop bank pins since the 2 apps were spotted in his app drawer, Mpesa Ledger was not spared either. Thug(2) then proceeds to check Jeffs text messages of which Barclays Banking texts were found. Jeff was asked to produce his Barclays pin as well as its USSD code to access it since there was no Barclays Banking app installed on his phone. The banking app pins were all verified by checking their account balances. Thug (1) then emptied Jeffs pockets of all his valuables (it's a good thing Jeff never had his ATM cards on him). As Jeff was pleading with them to spare his life they roughed him up again, tore his clothes and used them to tie his hands, legs and mouth-gagged him to immobilize & shut him up.
The two thugs then left with his phone where they proceeded to withdraw the cash at various Mpesa Agents in town that night. Jeff was later found by street boys who untied him and guided him to a police post nearby.
Jeff woke up saturday morning in hospital with calls from friends through his brothers phone asking whether he was alright and when to expect their cash back. This prompted Jeff to have his Safaricom line blocked, bank accounts suspended and engage the CID in the whole matter. As we speak Jeff has around 115k mpesa to refund to swindled friends, KCB Mpesa and Mshwari loans to pay back (note he has never taken any loans from these two) and an undisclosed amount of cash from his various banks withdrawn.
1. Hide banking apps from your phones App Drawer using the various hiding apps/ Launchers available on the playstore.
Make a habit of deleting confirmation banking texts from your phone after you are done with them.
Use a different smartphone to install your most used banking apps (preferably one lying around in the house) or a kabambe phone to perform USSD type banking transactions. These phones can only be used in the house and switched off after you are done. (make sure you password protect them)
Refrain from always carrying your ATM card in your wallet. Only carry your ATM card when you need it otherwise always leave it in the house somewhere where even your houshelp cant get to.
Make use of ATM Machines around your area of residence instead of relying on the ones in the City Centre. This reduces the amount of time you have your ATM card on you.
Avoid keeping huge amounts of cash in your Mpesa Wallet. Always have a threshold and transfer excess cash to your bank account
If you are the kind that goes to parties leave your smartphone at home and go with your kabambe phone