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Man jailed for refusing to reverse ‘erroneous’ M-pesa transaction

A man was on Tuesday sentenced for withdrawing and spending money that was sent to his M-pesa account by mistake.

Cyrus Nzioka Maithya is said to have received a sum of Sh16,463 from Harriet Karimi on November 3, 2020.

Nzioka, who was not the intended recipient, declined to return the money prompting the sender to seek legal action.

“Cyrus Nzioka Maithya on November 3, 2020, in Nairobi otherwise in the course of stealing dishonesty received Sh16463 in your M-Pesa account knowing or having reasons to believe it was stolen,” the charge sheet read in part.

Nzioka appeared before Nairobi Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Nazushi where he pleaded guilty to the charges.

The court offered him a chance to refund the money, but he noted that he had already spent it and requested leniency and forgiveness, saying he is the sole breadwinner for his family.

The magistrate sentenced him to three months in prison or pay a fine of Sh20,000.

Section 35 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act says, “If you fail to reverse an M-Pesa payment that was made erroneously, you risk a two-year jail term, Sh200,000 fine or both.

Some mobile phone subscribers spend money sent wrongly to their accounts instead of waiting for the send to reverse the transaction.

Often, culprits get away with it as Safaricom refers victims to report the matter to the police for investigations and prosecution.

Tin 2017, the telco company introduced a service where one can reverse money sent to another person in error.

Customers who send money to the wrong recipients are required to send the transaction code, via text message, to the number 456.

The cash transfer will be suspended soon thereafter.

Subscribers can cancel transactions within this period at no cost. Safaricom’s mobile application also allows users to confirm their intended recipient even before they input their personal identification number (PIN).

This has tremendously reduced cases of people sending money to the wrong recipients.