By Godfrey Chitalu
RECENTLY a good friend of mine wondered how an exciting mobile money deposit notification turned sour. He was sent mobile money that was ironically illegally harvested by a third part.
Further inquiries proved that the scammer withdrew it using a directional unregistered SIM card.
Investigations on the originating mobile money vendor proved her innocent as there was seemingly an invisible hand doing the monkey tricks.
On another day, while on a bus, I witnessed a phone conversation between a town dweller and his seemingly rural counterpart. He phoned animatedly as to attract attention not knowing that he was about to be scammed.
We only realized that he had been duped to send money to an auto generated SMS which never came from the intended recipient. Throughout the trip we were kept entertained by his perpetual complaints about the lost money. The eavesdropper had just dubiously earned a cool K1000.
Are our three mobile service providers serious? How many people on a daily basis are falling prey to this mobile money scam? It is evident that nothing tangible has been done in sensitizing the general populace about mobile money fraud.
MTN, Airtel, and Zamtel must work together if this internal hemorrhage should be controlled. These messages we keep receiving from insiders is slowly eroding confidence in the mobile money system.
There is no doubt that some mobile phone vendors leak client data to third parties. This is because they work in tandem with perhaps poorly remunerated insiders. Do these providers have any internal controls?
How can an entire nation be held to ransom by culprits bent on harvesting personal data? Many PINs or personal identification numbers and related private details are harvested for wrong reasons.
What is the role of ZICTA in this fiasco? Can we be wrong if we assumed that ZICTA is toothless, uninterested, and incapacitated to control this menace? Does it have the equipment and wherewithal to handle the bull by the horns?
How come no one has ever been brought to book? Can we say that our country is awash with unregistered SIM cards that are conduits for defrauding hard working Zambians? How many SIM cards on the market are registered?
A simple survey show that one out of every five phone users has an unregistered but fully functional SIM card, not in their name. There are several ways ZICTA can come to our rescue.
The crudest way is to shut all unregistered SIM cards; purveyors of mobile money scams can feel it. The milder route is to compel providers to conduct awareness campaigns on mobile fraud. With our three musketeers, certainly money might not be a problem.
ZICTA can also compel them to ascribe to rigorous internal fraud mechanisms. It can easily lay traps for those in the smishing business. It can also use reversal requests from scammers to gain entry into their murky world.
Fake SMS that dupe customers are generated from places that can be wired internally! Somehow somewhere mobile service providers have bad eggs within their systems. Identifying this cabal is possible with leadership.
The author is a social commentator who writes for pleasure.
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