Detectives from Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) ambushed a notorious SIM swapper last week, arresting him after he presented a forged ID card and a fake police letter at a Safaricom store in the town of Thika. Emmanuel Kiprono (pictured) was caught whilst impersonating the intended victim, who is believed to have been chosen because of the size of their balance in their M-PESA mobile money wallet. The police gathered further evidence of Kiprono’s criminality, as recounted on an official X account:
Upon interrogation, Emmanuel Kiprono led detectives to a house in Zimmerman where a mobile phone used for sim registration, assorted sim replacement cards, forged police abstract forms and waiting cards bearing different names, an Mpesa till number application booklet, several ID cards among other items were recovered.
Kiprono should have been aware of the risks as the police used the same tactics to catch another SIM swapper, Everline Alulu Kimani, at a Safaricom shop just nine days earlier.
Kiprono and Alulu are believed to be a detachment of the infamous Mulot team who target individuals with large mobile money balances and once they take over the victims’ phone numbers, they are able drain off their accounts.
The police are still on the hunt for other members of the gang.
It has often been suggested that anybody might fall victim to SIM swap frauds. However, fraudsters do not take over accounts without having any idea about how much they might be worth. The global pattern is clear: SIM swappers identify specific targets who are believed to have a lot of money stored in accounts that can easily be raided. If a customer has a big mobile money balance, or has a lot of cryptocurrency in an online wallet, they represent a juicy target for crooks.