Police are investigating a criminal network that has been stealing the identities of teachers to fraudulently obtain bank loans in Kiambu and Nyeri counties.
In the most recent incidents, the fraudsters are said to have obtained loans worth Sh2.8 million in Gatundu and Limuru sub-counties of Kiambu after forging national identity cards and employment details, including pay-slips, of two teachers.
The amount would have been higher had the investigators and bank officials not stopped several other transactions involving millions of shillings that were in the process of being cleared.
On March 8, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) said: “Fraudsters are impersonating teachers to obtain bank loans, indicating that they have access to teachers’ information since they are targeting those whose payslips have no loans,” said the letter signed by N. Lolgisoi on behalf of TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia.
The warning came after five teachers from Nyeri county raised the alarm after it emerged that the cartels had sought loans in Thika and Kiambu amounting to Sh8.4 million using their details. The fraudsters were seeking loans ranging from Sh1.4 million to Sh2.3 million in two banks.
“Sensitise your officers and teachers to be careful with information and details especially when using cyber cafes,” said the letter from TSC.
On Saturday, the commission’s head of communication, Mr Kamotho Kihumba, said: “We have put in place adequate measures to safeguard any third party engagements with the payroll systems”.
In Kiambu, detectives are also pursuing allegations that the racket could involve rogue TSC officials suspected of providing confidential personal details to criminals and staff at various financial institutions.
Once the loans are approved by TSC and the banks, and credited to the teachers’ bank accounts, the suspects, using the fake identities, immediately withdraw the amount, leaving the burden of servicing the loans to the teachers.
On Thursday, police in Kiambu arrested two women said to be part of the cartel after they attempted to obtain a Sh1.5 million loan from a Limuru bank branch using details of a teacher at Muchatha Primary School.
The two were arrested at the TSC offices in Kiambu Town where they had gone to collect a filled-in loan application form filed on Wednesday by a different woman suspected to be part of the group.
According to Ms Lillian Wachira, who is the county’s TSC director, on Wednesday, at around 1pm, a pregnant woman dropped the loan application form, which had been purportedly signed by the Muchatha Primary School staff seeking a loan and counter-signed by the head teacher.
The suspect, who the police are now hunting, produced an ID with the teacher’s name and number. The picture in the ID was, however, that of the suspect. She also produced a pay-slip for February and provided the TSC number.
After the woman left, an official processing the application noticed glaring inconsistencies in the signatures of the teacher and head teacher after comparing them with specimens in the system. This prompted the official to contact the two teachers on the purported loan application.
“The head teacher said he had not signed any application form, and the teacher had not left the school at the time.
We asked her (the teacher) to visit our offices. It was then that we established that all the documents presented to us were fake. We halted the loan processing,” Ms Wachira said, adding that the suspect had also obtained “fine details” about the teacher’s work station.
When the two women visited the offices to collect the loan application form, the police were alerted and arrested them. The suspects were taken to Kiambu Police Station.
An official of the targeted bank, who is privy to the investigation, said there has been an increase in such incidents.
During the Wednesday incident, one of the suspects had the teacher’s password, which is used to obtain payslips online.
“The teacher had a loan, but the suspect had manipulated the pay-slip to indicate that there was no outstanding loan. One of them was asked to key in the password, which she did,” the banker said, adding that with the forms approved by TSC, the bank would have had no reason not to process the loans.
Kiambu police boss Duncan Nguthu said they were investigating the case, while TSC officials said they had been advised to take extra precautions, including calling the teachers involved.