Government officials including members of parliament have reportedly been conned of millions of shillings in a whole new mobile money scam as revealed by the Uganda communications commission (UCC) and police, According to the executive director UCC Mr Godfrey Mutabazi the new mobile money fraud chain involves a series of specialized criminals who use phone numbers of close relatives to con money from unsuspecting victims.
How The Fraud Works
A victim receives a call from a known phone number say a relative then the caller (scammer) will say the phone owner needs money urgently -for instance an accident, however the money is supposed to be sent to a given phone number and relative’s line is switched off until the transaction is complete in order to convince the victim that the money is needed urgently.
“While the fraud may look complicated,we are still investigating how it is being done” Mr Mutabazi added.
According to the New Vision, a joint operation carried out by police and UCC enforcement teams resulted into the arrest of a one John Turyatenga Mutabira aged 32 suspected to be a key mobile money scammer who was charged with electronic fraud and obtaining money by false pretense.
UCC officials say that the key suspect was arrested in Ntungamo early October and was found with over 6 SIM cards five of which where registered in his names,whereas police believes these SIM cards have been used to con unsuspecting victims of their money. Ucc officials said printouts show that Mutabira had conned over 7 victims between May and September this year, In conjunction with technical officials in mobile money companies the suspect was using internet generated messages to con people.
In an interview with the New Vision, District Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana revealed that he was conned over 1.5 million shillings “I was conned but fortunately i arrested the suspect and handed him over to police” he added.On the other hand Ntungamo based Mp Gerald Karuhanga lamented that con men targeted his relatives and not himself.
Eng Godfrey Mutabazi further said the number of victims in this new mobile money scam are over 20 according to phone printouts police and UCC gathered,however Ucc believes scammers work hand in hand with some rogue technical officers of different mobile money companies in order to impersonate victims relatives.
In a report by the Helix institute of digital finance in 2015 indicates that mobile money agents fraud cases stood at 53% whereas the number of mobile money users grew by 12.2% of the total population in 2015.