Mobile Money operator, MTN, has sanctioned 3,000 mobile money agents allegedly caught in mobile money fraud in the last three months.
The move is part of efforts by the country’s biggest telecom company to sanitise and restore integrity to its mobile money platform.
In an interview on the sidelines of a media encounter with the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) in Accra on Thursday, the Senior Manager for Anti-money Laundering, Compliance and Analytics at MTN Mobile Money, Mr Godwin Tamakloe, said some of the agents were currently being processed for prosecution.
“We are currently collaborating with the security agencies to process some of the fraudulent agents for court,” he stated.
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According to him, some of the agents, after they had transacted business with the subscribers, called them back and later defrauded them, while other agents also overcharged subscribers.
Four agents were also sanctioned for wrong registration processes, which did not meet the Know Your Customer (KYC) Compliant requirement for subscribers.
400,000 SMSs blocked daily
The company, which receives about 365 complaints of fraud monthly from subscribers, said it filtered all the short messaging services (SMSs) that passed through its platform and blocked more than 400,000 scam messages on a daily basis from reaching their final recipients.
Mr Tamakloe cautioned the public to be wary of scammers who sent text messages purportedly from a bank or mobile money operator requesting personal identification number (PIN), account number or other vital information, since they might certainly be fraudulent or phishing attempts.
MTN Ghana boasts a subscriber base of 18 million out of the 35 million subscribers for the industry and records more than GH¢36 million transactions on its mobile money platform monthly.
The senior manager advised mobile money subscribers not to click on dubious links in emails or text messages or send financial information by unencrypted emails.
“Always tell your bank or your mobile money operators about any suspicious emails or texts you receive,“ he said.
The mobile giant, which, in 2016, recorded about GH¢56 billion in mobile money transaction and GH¢23 billion in value, has come under some criticisms for failing to safeguard the security of its mobile money platform.
ISO certified platform
That notwithstanding, Mr Tamakloe said the company’s mobile money platform was safe and secure and could not be penetrated by cyber crooks.
“Indeed, MTN mobile money was the first Mobile Money service to have received the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification in Ghana,” he said proudly.
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has reported that mobile phone subscription in Ghana had soared to more than GH¢35 million.
That, coupled with the increasing financial literacy in the country, projects a boom in mobile money usage in Ghana.
Although most of the mobile payment services/platforms are safe, cyber crooks are constantly trying to outsmart the system and users.
But the Analytics, Budget and Reporting Manager of MTN, Mr Solomon Hayford, disputed the figures in some media reports that 50 per cent of all mobile money subscribers had either been defrauded or targeted.
That, he said, was highly inaccurate and not supported by evidence.
“Statistics available to MTN confirm that less than 0.1 per cent of subscribers have been affected. The small number notwithstanding, MTN considers the issue of mobile money fraud one of utmost importance and continues to be dedicated in providing the needed attention and resources to address the situation,” he said.
Bank’s official App
Banks such as Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, UniBank and others allow their customers to transfer money from bank accounts to mobile money accounts and vice versa.
Mr Hayford advised subscribers to verify that a banking app was official before the application was downloaded and installed.
He said although some subscribers were uncomfortable setting up passwords to lock their phones or tablets, it was the best protection against criminals gaining access to their devices.
“This means whenever somebody goes to open your iPhone or android, it will require a passcode before unlocking.
This is a great solution if you are often moving around and travelling with your devices or allowing your friends to use your phone more frequently. Protect your phone/tablet with a strong password and set up a SIM card PIN so that it can’t be used in another device,’’ he stated.
Again, Mr Hayford cautioned the public to be careful when returning a call from an unknown number. “These could be potentially unwanted and costly schemes, spam and scam voice and text messages. You could be charged premium rates for these calls. The bigger danger is that your phone data might be transferred during the call,” he stated.
He also advised subscribers not to use the automatic call acceptance feature which could be used by cyber crooks to establish a connection without a subscriber’s information.