Sim swap victim loses case to Safaricom; ordered to pay costs of suit

by Wakili Liam

A man who sued Safaricom over sim swap fraud seeking at least Sh4,300 will now bear the cost of filing the landmark case after the court dismissed it. Chrisogonas Odero, a Kenyan living in the United States, is a victim of sim swap fraud.

Mr Odero was asking the court to compel mobile service provider Safaricom Limited to refund him Sh200 for the purchase of a replacement sim card and the Sh4,110 he spent as courier cost to the US.

His case was weighty. Mr Odero was the first Kenyan to pursue Safaricom for a sim swap. In the end, he not only lost the case but was also ordered to pay the firm costs.

Justice Hedwig Ongúdi dismissed the case, not for lack of evidence but because he may have not read the terms and conditions while purchasing the sim card. The terms require him to go for arbitration first and if that fails, then he ought to approach the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal (CAMAT).

“He was guided accordingly but he decided to come to court instead of following the setup dispute resolution processes by the respondent, under their contractual agreement,” Justice Ong’udi said.

Mr Odero bought a Safaricom sim card in 2009. The court record reads that 10 years later, he received a call from a person alleging to be the telco’s customer care.

The caller asked him to keep his mobile phone on so he could be sent updates on his M-Pesa menu. Soon after the communication, it became impossible for him to make calls, buy airtime or even transact on Safaricom’s mobile money transfer platform.

Alarmed, he contacted the firm on Twitter and would learn that fraudsters had managed to swap his card. He was advised to deactivate it and get a replacement. The new line was delivered to him through a DHL courier.

In his case, Mr Odero told the court that Safaricom had agreed to reimburse him for the cost incurred. He narrated that he activated the second line but still could not access M-Pesa.

According to him, it was at his point that he discovered that the pin had been changed and an agent called Servotech Agencies Scowas Enpses (Agent No.335362) had made a deposit of Sh100.

He further averred that he reported the issue to Safaricom in the hope he would get a comprehensive report on what transpired but he got none. When his follow-ups failed to bear fruit, he reported the matter to the Gigiri police station.

He accused Safaricom of negligence and failing to secure his personal information. According to him, the swap compromised his ability to meet the financial needs of his wife, children, and father.

Safaricom, through one of its fraud managers, Andronicus Kihalangwa, denied that it had contacted Mr Odero.

However, Mr Kihalangwa admitted that Mr Odero had made a complaint and guided on how to resolve it.

The court heard that investigations revealed that fraudsters had swapped Mr Odero’s line. According to Safaricom, it has mechanisms to limit potential fraudulent sim swaps.

Mr Kihalangwa also denied that his employer had agreed to reimburse the customer’s courier charges. According to him, the second line was activated and Mr Odero never sent any other complaint.

He added that the petitioner was also advised to visit its offices if his query was not sufficiently addressed but failed to do so. Odero also sued the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

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