Why mobile money scammers? (Part 1)
Published On February 8, 2022 » 1976 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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Zambia has continued to record an increase in use of digital financial services.
Mobile money transactions in Zambia increased to K105.6 billion by the end of last year from K49.6 billion in 2019, representing a 113 per cent increment, according to ZICTA.And the Authority has revealed that MTN Zambia Limited and Airtel Zambia Limited continued to dominate the ICT market with 45.3 per cent and 35.5 per cent of the market, respectively, compared to Zamtel’s 19.2 per cent.
The aim of is articles is to drive a positive awareness against mobile money scammers. This article begins by giving brief status of the mobile money situation in Zambia. We shall define the key terms, explain the types of scams, random collections from social media posts and finally ways to avoid being scammed.
According to the Zambia Information and Technology Authority (ZICTA) ICT Sector Annual Market Report, mobile money transactions in the country leaped to an historic high of over K105 billion in 2020 compared to just K49.6 billion in 2019, representing a 113 per cent hike”.- News Diggers.
The growth has been necessitated in pursuit of achieving the SustainableDevelopment Goals(SDG), digital financial inclusion. According to United Nations Capital Development Fund UNCDF, “Financial inclusion is positioned prominently as an enabler of other developmental goals in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, where it is featured as a target in eight of the seventeen goals. These include SDG1, on eradicating poverty; SDG 2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture; SDG 3 on profiting health and well-being; SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and economic empowerment of women; SDG 8 on promoting economic growth and jobs; SDG 9 on supporting industry, innovation, and infrastructure; and SDG 10 on reducing inequality. Additionally, in SDG 17 on strengthening the means of implementation there is an implicit role for greater financial inclusion through greater savings mobilization for investment and consumption that can spur growth”.
Digital Financial Services (DFS) include a broad range of financial services accessed and delivered through digital channels, including payments, credit, savings, remittances and insurance. Digital channels refers to the internet, mobile phones, automated teller machines (ATM), Point of Sale (POS) terminals etc. DFS concept includes mobile financial services (MFS).
MFS is the use of a mobile phone to access financial services and execute financial transactions. Includes both transactional services and non-transactional services. MFS include M-Banking, M-payments, and M-money.
M-Money is a mobile based service facilitating electronic transfers and other transactional and non-transactional services using mobile networks.
M-Banking is the use of a mobile phone to access banking services and execute financial transactions. Often used to refer only to customers with bank accounts.
According to some reports, digital financial services (DFS) industry experienced the growth in 2018, in the number of active DFS account users, growth in the number of agents nationwide and growth in the number of products available to customers.
According to the UN Capital Development Fund (2020), In December 2019, there were more than 16.6 million registered DFS accounts in Zambia. This corresponded to a growth of 80,000 (+0.5 per cent) new registered accounts in the market compared to December 2018.
A UNCDF survey on DFS in Zambia in April 2020, reported that 84 per cent of DFS providers were confident that their businesses would remain commercially viable, which is an improvement from 2018 when 61 per cent of providers said their business could generate enough revenue to cover operation costs.
The headline of ECO Finance Agency stated that Zambia: Mobile money transfers reach record $652.1 million in Q1 2019 – ecofinagency.com.
A new survey by the Financial Scooping (Finscope) has revealed that the uptake of mobile money services in Zambia has increased to 58 per cent in 2020, a significant increase from the 14 per cent recorded in 2015 (IT Web Africa).
FSD Zambia reported that the Growing use of mobile phones has opened up mobile money services, because mobile money services operate through cell phone services and the Internet. Using mobile money you can withdraw and deposit cash, pay money to others, and keep money stored for later use. Improvements in mobile money channels worldwide have created product options among financial institutions and merchants alike. Zambia has begun to reach financially excluded families as cell networks expand, providing mobile money services.
While mobile money is expanding possibilities for the financially excluded and underserved to access financial services, it also raises important regulatory issues for policymakers. Regulators want to ensure these services are delivered responsibly. With growth in technology comes new responsibility! Mobile money services must be secure, safe, affordable, and easy to use. Regulators are there to help this happen.
Mobile money providers are expanding financial service options for the excluded and underserved. East Africa has provided good evidence of improved family incomes and economic expansion using mobile money, and Zambia is watching and learning from this. Charity Luchembe Chikumbi and Chishala Lukwesa Siame – Published on 28 May 2018.
The backgrounded provided established the nature and forms of DFS. We need to understand the advantages which it has brought including: Reach larger audience of customers untapped by the existing banking infrastructure. Increases financial inclusion; Increase efficiency of delivery; Improve quality of service; Revenue growth–– Reaching new market segments Offering new products and services enabled by technology; Cost reduction to companies and customers–– Operational cost by reducing
Scammer operations
Mobile money is now a huge sector in the economy of Zambia. While decision makers are on the way of attaining the SDG and service providers generating projected revenue or even beyond, consumers are at the messy of the scammers. Consumers keep losing their money because of many reasons.
The growth of mobile money and the appetite by vicious crooks are continuously developing ways to frustrate this process.
There are different types of mobile money scams. Some can be avoided at an individual level, while some are so sophisticated that when carried out, a collection of minds has to be strung together to get a solution.
The meaning of SCAMMER is one who perpetrates a scam: a person who commits or participates in a fraudulent scheme or operation.- Merriam-Webster. To Scam is to deceive and defraud (someone). To obtain (something, such as money) by a scam.
Information gathering, Developing relationship, Exploitation, Execution
Social Engineered Mobile Money Scams
Social engineering, in the context of information security, refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.
Put another away — the scammer packages his/her message in a manner that will appeal to your psychological weaknesses to perform an intended activity.
Friend, relative, boss in distress
To carry out this type of mobile money scam, the fraudster will first do some research and find out the kind of people you care about.
Armed with this information, they’ll either hack into their (people you care about) emails, access their phones to send a money request for an urgent problem.
The scammer, impersonating your friend/relative/employee, will tell you that they are stuck somewhere and they need you to urgently send them money.
Job, employment scams
Unemployment is a big problem in this day and age. So, scammers are now exploiting this to make some quick money from you. This type of mobile money scam is common in the mining town of Zambia. Sometimes scammer will pretended to be officers from the Zambia Police Services, Zambia Army, Agriculture officers and many others.
People would post jobs on social media or inbox you with job offers. Because we include a lot of information about us in our social media accounts, it is a bit easier for someone to track your level of education and employment status.
Fake prizes, messages
This is one of the oldest types of mobile money scams. The trick here is a scammer sending you a message that you’ve won a cash prize but to get it you need to first wire a certain fee to pay for taxes or any other cooked-up reason.
Or they’ll send you a text message that appears like the one you’d get after a mobile money transaction. Immediately, they call you saying that they sent money to your account in error so you need to reverse it.
If you don’t take time to check your balance, you’ll end up giving out your own money. The application of this trick in scamming people has gone down since most people now know about it.
The Author is a Speaker, Mentor, Educator, Trainer, Professional & Community Leader, IT& Cybersecurity Leader. For comments email: ICTMatters@kingston.co.zm; www.kingston.co.zm

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