Conmen Carry Tricks to Mobile Money Business

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In short
Operators of mobile money, the electronic service that allows one to send and withdraw cash through the phone have reported a new wave of theft targeting the service.

Operators of mobile money, the electronic service that allows one to send and withdraw cash through the phone have reported a new wave of theft targeting the service.

The agents of MTN Mobile Money who have lost their savings to the syndicate explained that there are is a group of conmen with fake identity cards and who carry phones containing messages that purport that someone has sent money and they want to withdraw it. They reportedly ask to withdraw money only in excess of nine hundred thousand shillings.

Joslyn Akello, one of the mobile money agents, is the latest victim of the scam.  She says that a man with an identity card bearing the name Simon Karuhanga, approached her and said he wanted to withdraw nine hundred and eighty thousand shillings. 

She said the man showed her the phone message indicating he had been sent 980,000 shillings, which he wanted to withdraw. She however said the client hurried and abandoned the identity card and a phone immediately after withdrawing the money, but before she discovered the information were fake.

Akello said she later informed MTN officials who asked her to hand over the identity card and phone abandoned by the thief promising that they would trace the thief and recover her money. She however says that the telecom company is keeping the new wave of crime a secret from the public to avoid making a loss by scaring off their clients.

Raymond Ochola, another mobile money agent at Lacor trading centre, confirmed that he has heard about the incidences, but refused to give any detail.

However, when contacted this morning, Moses Opeto, an official working with MTN Public Access department that runs the Mobile Money service, denied knowledge of any such syndicate. He however admitted that the service was a new initiative that was bound to have gaps, which may be exploited by ill-intentioned individuals.  

Opeto disclosed that MTN is familiar with cases of people stealing money from others by getting access to their personal identification numbers. He explained that the telecom company is running a program intended to train all the mobile money agents to ensure they do not fall victims to any scams.

Johnso Kilama, the northern regional police spokesperson, said police have not yet  receive such complaints. He asked the mobile money agents to tip police whenever they suspect foul play. 

Mobile Money is an electronic money transaction service offered by MTN. A similar service but under different brands are offered by nearly all the telephone companies in the country.

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