UGANDA: Conmen target mobile money users in lockdown

By Elizabeth Kamurungi

Police are investigating cases of mobile money fraud that are said to have increased during the lockdown instituted to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said they have raised the issue with the Cyber Crimes Unit who are following up on the complaints they have received.

“There are some people trying to dupe unsuspecting Ugandans...they get their IDs and then hack into your account if you have mobile money,” Mr Enanga said.
On April 20, the Uganda Communications Commission issued a warning to Ugandans about the increased cases of mobile money scammers.

According to the statement released by UCC, conmen are tricking users into sharing their mobile money pin numbers by posing as UCC or officials from mobile money operators. The scammers ask one to enter their pin numbers in fulfilment of a fake registration to avoid having their phone numbers blocked or to participate in fake promotions.

“Such scams have resulted in a loss of considerable sums of money by unsuspecting subscribers, especially during this Covid-19 lockdown when subscribers are increasingly using digital platforms due to limited mobility, and therefore desperate not to lose connectivity,” a statement from UCC reads in part.

UCC urged Ugandans to report such occurrences.
Telecommunication services make up part of the essential services that were left to operate amid the lockdown enforced to curb the spread of the deadly virus. Many Ugandans have been using mobile money services for both business and personal transactions given many cannot leave their homes.

Reaction from mtn

Caution. Mr Martin Sebuliba, the senior manager brands and communications at MTN Uganda, said they have been getting reports from customers and called on the users to be vigilant.

“When it comes to that kind of fraud, it is always there but it seems to have intensified during this lockdown. We try to sensitise our customers not to fall for such scams. We intend to also increase our communication, working with other telecommunication companies to make a concerted efforts to stem the vice,” Mr Sebuliba said.

He added: “When a conman does not have your pin number, there is nothing they can do with your account… the whole solution is that customers should never share their pin number.”

He said that they are collaborating with the authorities to address the issue.