Ministry to plans strategies against Mobile Money Fraud

Ebenezer Asante, CEO of MTN and Madam Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Communications Minister
Ebenezer Asante, CEO of MTN and Madam Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Communications Minister

Minister for Communications, Madam Ursula Owusu Ekuful, has announced plans by her Ministry to roll out public education strategies towards combating Mobile Money fraud.

The strategy, she observed would enable subscribers to know the kind of dangers associated with the service and how to shield themselves from fraudsters.

“In the coming days, we will be rolling out a more coordinated strategy of public education and sensitization so that people will know the kind of dangers out there and how to protect themselves”, the Minister told the New Crusading GUIDE.

Outlining the importance of the awareness creation, the Minister said mobile money fraudsters have realized that subscribers are ignorant about the dangers involved in using these services, so they take advantage of it and defraud them.

Even though you think you are operating a small mobile money joint, you are in cyber space and people can use that same means to defraud you”, Mrs. Owusu Ekuful, pointed out.

She advised strongly that it was important to educate people never to release their pin codes, adding that it should be changed immediately it is exposed.

The codes are for you, do not give it out. The minute you do that the person will be able to access your mobile money wallet and take your money from it. The codes are security features that protects a person from being defrauded,” she counseled.

The Communication Minister, was of the view that Telcos should work together and report cases of fraud to the National Cyber security centre for schemes of fraudsters to be uncovered and appropriate solutions to be developed.

Even before the ministry comes up with its strategic public fraud education, Madam Owusu Ekuful requested that Telcos, should begin schooling their subscribers to be informed.

It is important that as we promote financial inclusion, we need to educate people about secured ways in using technology for their transactions”, she indicated.

She said until Telcos deploy MoMo officers to help consumers with fraud awareness on how to avoid it, the criminals would be ahead of the subscribers.

Already Telecommunication giant, MTN has begun with its education around the country with its latest trainees being Ghana police.

The day’s workshop, organized last week for 40 police personnel in Accra was aimed at equipping them with the requisite knowledge to effectively investigate fraudulent transactions involving mobile money transfer.

Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Bright Oduro said it is imperative for the security services to collaborate with other stakeholders to deal with the MoMo menace.

The police, DCOP Oduro said, were usually the first to receive complaints about fraudulent mobile money transactions, for which reason it was necessary that police personnel were equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills to fight the crime.

Crime is becoming increasingly sophisticated, organised and networked. Crime fighting, therefore, needs the holistic collaboration of all stakeholders. The police will collaborate with other stakeholders to clamp down on such fraudsters and their criminal activities,” he said.

The director-general urged the participants to use the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and upgrade their skills for detecting and investigating fiscal crime.

He urged the public to be wary of the activities of unscrupulous characters in order not to fall victim to them and also report to the police immediately they fell into the trap of such swindlers.

General Manager for Mobile Finance Services of MTN, Mr. Eli Hini, said at the workshop that mobile money service has experienced few setbacks with fraud, which has been customer related and not system related, adding that MTN had taken a number of steps to ensure that its systems were robust enough to provide a secure service.

The customer-related setbacks, Mr. Hini said, had been categorized into phishing, advance fee scams, overcharging by merchants, identity theft or impersonation and cash-out theft.

He said in 2016, the company received a total of 28 reports of fraud cases per month, adding that the number had shot up in the early part of 2017 with an average of 43 cases per month.

“This is a serious cause for concern for us,” Mr. Hini said and expressed the hope that by the end of the workshop, the police would be in the position to effectively deal with digital crimes carried out through mobile money services to help the country develop a cash-lite economy and increase financial inclusion.

According to Deloitte “Globally, fraud loss in the telecom industry is in excess of two percent of total revenues, which is close to US$46 billion.

The industry estimates fraud losses due to mobile wallet fraud to also be around 2-3 percent of the revenues generated by mobile money services, although there is limited information available on this topic”.

Mobile money fraud not only results in financial loss to customers or a mobile money provider, but it also damages the reputation of the service to the customer and risks the reputation of the industry as a whole, e-crime and cyber security experts said at another workshop on mobile money fraud organised by MTN Ghana in collaboration with the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) in Accra.

Source: Paa Kwesi Agyefi

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