Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata is the latest victim to be targeted in electronic fraud. Kang’ata on Sunday reported to the police in Maragua that fraudsters were demanding ransom from him after sending out fake messages to about 2,000 people.
According to the Senator, the messages, which had been sent out to close allies who helped him organize an economic brainstorming forum where the Deputy President Dr William Ruto was the chief guest implied that he had sent out Sh5,000 to the recepients and reversed it.
“someone manipulating my personal mobile phone number sent at least 2,000 people messages on their mobile phones to create an impression that I sent them Sh5,000 each and reversed it.” he wrote on Twitter.
The crooks then started demanding a Sh20 million bribe to protect him from investigations by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). He said the crooks were demanding the ransom to prevent the Authority from instituting an integrity probe on him regarding misuse of his money transfer sim card rights. The caller also informed him that if the probe was to take place, it would have a negative impact on his gubernatorial bid, including chances of his disqualification from the August 9 polls.
Murang’a South Police Boss Alexander Shikondi confirmed that the senator had reported the issue, and that it had been escalated to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
“The message is an outright technological mischief designed to malign the complainant’s name,” said the police boss.
He said the source the texts are hosted on a sophisticated tech gadget from Taiwan used to send fake messages within a certain radius.
“But the good thing is that we are trailing some individuals and we are zeroing in on one prime suspect. We will release details as we get a definite picture. But we have an idea that the origin of the message was a location in the neighbouring Kigumo Sub County,” he said.
He said that the phony texts were created by a machine that does alphanumerical masking.
Data masking, according to Nicholas Wachira of Thika Town’s Imaging Techno Services Ltd, creates phony but convincing replicas of real data.
“Data masking processes alter the original component of the data while still retaining the original format. The fake data is a duplicate of the genuine copy but it gets used without the genuine copy transacting hence making it hard to detect,” he said.
“In layman’s language, Kang’ata’s mobile phone number was masked and was made to transact without the original number’s involvement.’ Wachira said.