A few weeks ago, I got a forward about how someone had been conned through his phone. Apparently, some guy called him claiming to be from Customer Care and gave him some story about green sim cards, black sim cards and awards, then got the guy’s name, ID number and DOB. Dude’s DOB was his M-Pesa PIN number.
He was then given a code to key in – *33# or something like that – and asked not to use his number for ten minutes. A while later, the guy’s wife calls him on an alternate number claiming that some random guy is demanding Ksh 10,000 for his release. The couple try to call Customer Care but all calls have been barred and the Mpesa account has been drained.
No, I don’t know how they got the guy’s wife’s number. Probably an inside job.
Today, I took Ksh 7,000 out of my Mpesa account, which is the largest amount I’ve ever drawn. I didn’t think about it much, except I felt a little nervous since it wasn’t my usual Mpesa point. I usually draw close to home, just in case.
About an hour later, I got a text message. The sender name was Safaricom and there was no number. It said:
Dear Customer, kindly provide us with additional M-pesa information by following the simple method that will be sent to you shortly. The sms is not chargeable.
When I received the sms I thought hmm, weird.
A while later, a second text came in from ‘Safaricom’. This one read:
SMS your information at no charge to 232 in this format: Gender*Year of birth*Nationality*City*Physical address*Land Mark*Postal Address*Alternative Tel.No*
Ok. Land mark?!?!
I’m generally pretty paranoid, so my first thought is con. I was with my brothers, so I asked what they thought, but guys can be annoyingly blasé about things sometimes. One laughed and said:
‘They probably added land mark so when they ask for ransom they can say, “We know where you live, behind the big red post office box under the Mugumo tree.” ‘
The other said: ‘Just ignore it. If it’s important, they’ll call.”
My reaction was to call Customer Care incessantly [well, ok, I actually called three times] to find out if they knew about this, but I couldn’t get through.
As I think more, I wonder why they were insisting on ‘no charge’. It isn’t something Safaricom would say. They’re always more like **Terms and conditions apply.** And what’s all this 232 business? Why would they send two separate sms[es]?
Plus, apart from the land mark, Safaricom has all that info based on my Mpesa registration and 53 lost sim cards. They know who I am, so they wouldn’t say ‘Dear Customer.’
[Though if Safaricom sent me a text that started with, ‘Dear 3CB’ I’d probably grab a metal spike and crucifix’]
Its been hours, I still haven’t found Customer Care or my mystery texter, and I’m still wondering what they want to do with my land mark …
♫ Strange things are ha-pp-ening♫