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By Vincent Achuka.
On the Day that Victor Wangai Kiragu went missing, a good Samaritan admitted him at St Francis Hospital along Thika road about five kilometres away from where he lived in Kiamumbi with life-threatening injuries.
It was 5 pm on December 1 last year and Kiragu appeared to have been badly beaten. The hospital realizing that it had no capability of giving him the treatment he required, quickly stabilized him before transferring him to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
While at KNH where he was admitted as an unknown male adult, he underwent surgery but died eight days later on December 9. His eyes had been gouged out and his body had multiple injuries and fractures.
Yet as his family searched for him, unsure where he was they did not know that their one-month-long nightmare had just begun. Vik, as they referred to him had a tendency of going mute for a while but he had never gone silent for a whole 10 days.
Then on December 10, a day after he died and as his body was growing cold at the KNH Mortuary, something strange happened. A notification popped up on his family WhatsApp group showing that he had just changed his account to a new number.
“Vic changed their phone number to a new number. Tap to message or add the new number,” said the notification.
“Happy holidays and a prosperous New Year to everyone,” his brother Hezron Njoroge who lives in Seattle, United States responded.
No one at this point noticed anything strange other than the fact that Kiragu had changed his phone number. No one even knew he had died. How would they have? In fact a few minutes later another pop-up showed that he had returned his WhatsApp account to his real mobile phone number.
His mother who had been angered by Kiragu’s long silence immediately fired him a message.
“Victor mimi nakufa huku na snow wewe ni kucheza na Maisha?” She asked him.
“Hi mum, please save me with Sh2,000,” he responded.
Unknown to her mother, she was not talking to Kiragu. His sim card had been swapped and was now in the control of other people who were pretending to be him and were now extorting his family in the United States.
The criminals whom we have established included his close friend Steve Njomo. Kiragu had in the months leading to his death used Njomo’s phone number 0741270002 several times to receive funds from his family in the US.
So when a person pretending to be Kiragu asked her mother to send him money on Kiragu’s phone number, she did not notice anything weird with the request apart from the fact that she had sent him money two weeks before to buy a new phone.
“Victor where did you take your phone?” She asked.
“It has a problem but I am using a friend’s for now,” the fraudster using Kiragu’s cloned phone number responded.
“What is your friends name,” asked Kiragu’s mother surprised that her son could not receive money on his mobile phone yet he was chatting with her using it.
“He is Steve Njomo from Kiamumbi,” responded the fraudster.
Njomo was Kiragu’s neighbour in Kiamumbi, a neighbourhood off the bustling Kahawa West estate smacked between Nairobi and Kiambu Counties. Occasionally, Kiragu would sleep at Njomo’s house and vice versa. We have in the course of this investigation established that Kiragu had two other close friends; Njoroge and Chege.
Detectives from the Kasarani Police Division are investigating whether Njoroge and Chege were part of this con game together with Njomo and if they know anything about who murdered their friend Kiragu.
What is surprising in all this is why four friends can swap the sim card of their friend and use it to con his family instead of informing them that something wrong had happened to him. What is startling in all this matter is that Kiragu’s phone number was swapped on the next day after he died.
“I personally don’t know him but he’s been disguising himself as my brother and extorting my mum and sister even after my brother died at KNH after surgery,” Kiragu’s brother Hezron Njoroge a former journalist in Kenya before he relocated to the US said.
“He went to the extent of changing my bro’s number. He put his own number and uploaded my brother’s profile picture on his number as it looks real,” said Njoroge.
The con game went on to around December 24, when Kiragu’s family in the US took note that the person using his number to ask for money was always demanding that it is sent to another number. Furthermore, the requests for money had increased tremendously.
Njoroge was the first one to notice that something had changed in the way the conversations with his ‘brother’ were going plus the fact that he no longer picked his calls preferring to chat instead.
“Where did Victor go to? Show me your face,” he demanded.
“Bedan Marshal, check my Facebook,” the imposter lied adding that, “Victor left for Donholm at the beginning of December. Let me go with Chege to look for him,” he said.
It is at this point that Kiragu’s family discovered that something was wrong and they had not been talking with their kin and sending him money all along. They immediately put up a missing person alert and started looking for him in hospitals and mortuaries.
He was found at the KNH mortuary on Tuesday, January 10.
The Kenyan DAILY POST.