Bedah Mengo NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The
fight to eliminate mobile money fraud in Kenya is far from being
won as fraudsters devise new schemes targeting agents and
tricksters have stayed ahead of game, coming up with new schemes
to defraud mobile money agents and subscribers once their older
tricks are known. The result is that mobile money subscribers
and agents continue to fall prey to the fraudsters scattered in
all parts of the East African nation.
a fraudster would call a mobile money agent and pretend he works
with a telecom offering the service and thus the firm was
carrying out routine checks.
would then seek details about the agent’s account, including
the PIN number. The cheat would afterwards transfer cash from
the agent’s account to his and later withdraw the amount.
targeting mobile money subscribers would send a text- message
purporting to have transferred cash from their account. They
would then call the person and plead with them to revert the
tricks that saw agents and subscribers lose cash to the
fraudsters came to the fore, with telecoms warning mobile money
users to protect their passwords and shun calls from people
purporting to be their employees.
awareness helped curb mobile cash fraud, but the swindlers have
now come up with new tricks mainly targeting the agents.
brazen have they become that instead of making calls from far
and pretend to be working for Safaricom, Airtel, Yu or Orange
(the four telecoms in Kenya), they walk to the agents like any
other customer and execute the con schemes.
Mula is a mobile money agent in Komarock on the east of the
capital, Nairobi. Two days ago, a man walked to his mobile money
shop and asked to deposit 58 U.S. dollars in his phone account.
demanded, Mula asked him for his phone number, identity card and
the cash before carrying out the transaction.
complied with all the requests, but after keying in the
details and depositing the money in the phone number offered,
Mula realized the money had gone to a different person,” he
name of the account where he had deposited the cash was not the
same as the one on the identity card he was given.
I told him, the man appeared surprised and asked me to confirm
the phone number I had deposited the cash. He said I had
missed the last digit,” said Mula.
meant that Mula had made a mistake, therefore, he had to reverse
the transaction. But as he frantically tried to call the
customer care of the telecom that has employed him, the man
demanded his cash back.
gave him his money and he left, but when I managed to get
through to the customer care, I was informed the money had
already been withdrawn. That meant I had lost it,” said Mula.
was not until the next day while talking to fellow agents that
he realized he had been conned.
man had gone to two other agents in the area and used similar
tricks, with the person withdrawing cash on the other end
being the same,” recounted Mula, who has now become
another scheme, the tricksters approach mobile money agents, and
then seek to withdraw cash. They key in a “wrong” agent’s
number and withdraw money.
the message comes, showing a different agent in another
location, they ask the agent to help them reverse the cash by
calling customer care.
instead of allowing you to call customer care yourself, they
call and let you speak to the telecom’s agent. One then ends
up revealing their PIN number to the person who genuinely
sounds like a customer care agent. You will later realize all
your float is gone,” narrated Hazel Baraka, a Safaricom’s
M-pesa agent in the city center.
people have been arraigned in courts across the East African
nation and charged with mobile money fraud, but this has not
deterred others from perpetuating the vice.
fraud seems to be growing as money transacted through the
platform surges. As at November 2013, Kenyans mobile money
transactions hit 19.9 billion dollars, surpassing previous
year’s figure, which stood at 18 billion dollars, noted the
country’s Central Bank.
to Safaricom, fraudsters take advantage of mobile money agents
and users’ ignorance to defraud them.
are known to use tactics that take advantage of customers.
They require you to provide information or do something
yourself. To avoid being party to any frauds or scams on M-Pesa,
always check your balance, confirmation messages, do not
reveal your PIN, watch out for M-Pesa reversals and airtime
purchases,” warned Safaricom.
chief executive Bob Collymore recently noted that money lost in
M-Pesa fraud is less than 1 percent of the amount transacted on
the platform, which is over 35 million dollars each daily.
to customers are about 0.002 percent while agent fraud losses
stand at about 0.007 percent. According to Collymore, most of
the fraud is perpetuated through trickery.
a 2009 survey on mobile payments in Kenya, FSD Kenya,
Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and Central Bank of Kenya
found that fraud was a serious concern to M-Pesa agents.
three most-prominent types of fraud were counterfeit money,
customers using fake IDs and issuance of false details. The
researchers recommended training of agents.