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Beware: City tricksters’ new way of swindling online sellers

Beware. There is a new wave of crime in Nairobi involving online business transactions.

Con men have devised a new trick of using your phone to stage-manage fake mobile money transfer and rob you of  your items without paying a dime.

They borrow your phone, then distract you with an innocent red-herring as they save their phone number on your phone. The phone number is saved using  the name of  mobile money transfer service.

Afterwards they send you an SMS worded as a successful transaction. Because the number is saved on your phone, the message will be received under the name of the mobile money transfer service.

Last week, Christie* posted photos of her washing machine online for sale.

On Sunday morning, she received a call from a man whose identity on Truecaller (an application that identifies numbers not saved in one’s phonebook) was Prof Nderu.

“We agreed that he would view the machine in the course of the day. We arranged and he passed by my house at 4pm. He inspected the machine and said it was ok,” said Christie.

NEGOTIATIONS

During the price negotiations, the buyer requested that he consults his wife first before making a final decision.

He called the wife and after a few minutes, requested to use the Christie’s phone to finish the conversation as his airtime had run out.

“He then asked me to get him a glass of water. I went to get him the water and came back when he had finished with his wife. He told me that he will discuss his wife their best price and get back to me that evening,” explained Christie.

Early Monday morning, the buyer called with his usual line identified as Prof Nderu on Truecaller and said he would send some guys to pick up the washing machine.

“The transport arrived later at 5.30pm. I asked them for money but they said that they are only transport guys. I went back to the kitchen, the phone was on charge, to call the guy about the cash and found he had ‘M-Pesad’ me. I called and thanked him,” said Chistie.

CHECK BALANCE

She, however, noticed that the balance in the received text only showed the amount that was sent to her yet she already had some money in her account. This raised an alarm she immediately ordered the “transport men” to stop.

“I checked my balance and it only showed the balance I had before. The monies sent were not reflecting. I called the guy but he insisted that he had sent. I went back and counter-checked the messages from M-Pesa. I checked his message again and to my shock, I found that it had been saved as M-Pesa on my phone with the number 0705…… I was shocked,” she recounted.

After inquiring from the transport guys the real identity of the guy who sent them, they said they had only met him around Yaya Centre where he paid them a deposit to pick and transport the item to Komarock.