M-Pesa has been huge for Kenya’s economy — and for scammers


In January 2022, Peter Mwanzo, a senior Nairobi police officer, became a high-profile victim of mobile money fraud. Scammers replaced his SIM card remotely, transferred 597,100 Kenyan shillings ($4,575) from his mobile banking wallets, and took out hefty loans in his name — all while he had his phone on him.

“I could not explain how it happened as I have never shared my PIN or personal details with anyone. This is madness. It seemed easy for the third party to use my SIM card,” Mwanzo told the Kenyan high court months later while testifying against the suspected fraudster, according to local reports.

In court, Mwanzo also pointed a finger at Safaricom, his cellphone provider. He said he couldn’t understand how his SIM card had been so easily replaced and his accounts accessed remotely.

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