Cybercrime in Kenya is fast escalating and is now affecting individuals, with Citizen TV anchor Kirigo Ng’arua finding out the hard way after her identity was stolen on Facebook and M-Pesa.
For a while now, David Kitheka Mutua has been impersonating the TV anchor, opening a Facebook account in Ng’arua’s name and even activating an M-Pesa account using her details.
His plan was to fleece the public of money as he used his fake identity to draw the public into contributing money for fabricated causes. He almost got away with KSh8,000 (US$93).
Mutua is a jobless IT professional from Uganda. He failed to get a job in the country and hence devised a way to take care of his upkeep.
Mutua confessed his crimes to the Citizen TV crew at a police station, saying he targeted KSh18,000 (US$211) to rent a servant’s quarter as he went on his job search.
Although he says he is “deeply sorry” for the swindle he ran, this is a stark reminder of the dangers of cybercrime.
A year ago, there were complaints of fake promotional SMSs circling in the public domain. The majority were traced back to prisoners at major correctional facilities across the country.
As more financial services embrace technology, the government and individuals at large need to be vigilant in safeguarding their information on the cloud.
There are things users can do to lessen the risks, including not posting banking details on their social media account or even not updating where they will be all the time.
“I saw a loophole,” Mutua said, “and I felt that I would harness that for a while before I get a job.”