How MTN Ghana Is Winning The War Against MoMo Fraud

Eli Hini, GM of MTN MobileMoney

Accra, Ghana, May 20, 2020//-Cases of Mobile Money (MoMo) fraud especially on the platform of MobileMoney Limited, the MTN Ghana subsidiary responsible for mobile financial services have been reduced in this era of COVID-19.

According to the Senior Manager for Anti-money Laundering, Compliance and Analytics at MTN Mobile Money, Godwin Tamakloe, the number of fraud cases on the platform has dropped to 300 cases as at the end of April this year from 900 cases in 2019.

Why the drop in fraud cases

 The drop in the MoMo fraud cases is attributed to the sustained mixture of public education and other strategies deplored by the company to arrest the criminal activities of the fraudsters.

Through the creation of public education awareness, most customers of the MTN Mobile Money have started reporting incidences of suspected MoMo fraud cases to the company for prompt action.

Mr Tamakloe recently explained to some selected members of Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) via an online engagement that these improve education initiatives were helping the company to win the war against the MoMo fraud.

This is because most of these educational initiatives are usually crafted in the local dialects of the customers and air on television (TV) and radio stations across the length and breadth of the West African country.

Furthermore, the company recently employed and resourced thousands of mobile agents nationwide to provide customer and public education for all people irrespective of their networks.

In February this year, the MTN Mobile Money launched a new programme aims at localizing the MoMo education by involving traditional rulers, opinion leaders, churches and mosques, among others to ensure that the messages reach all in the communities.

“We are taking the education campaign to the communities, houses, churches, mosques, workplaces, among others to drum home the MoMo fraud campaign”, the General Manager of MobileMoney Limited, Eli Hini, said at the launch of the MoMo U4Know education programme in Agbogbloshie in the Accra metropolis.

Additionally, the MTN Mobile Money platform which is on the MTN Ghana network is leveraging all MTN owned opportunities to disseminate awareness to all the customers as well as potential customers.

Mr Tamakloe stated: “We also engaged in partnerships and trainings for major associations/communities”. This spirit of partnership has encouraged the company to enter into another partnership with the Ghana Police Service to publish arrested and prosecuted cases in the Ghanaian media.

 For instance in July 2017, MTN Ghana in partnership with the Ghana Police led to arrest of two culprits at Assin Daaman in the Central Region. The two were suspected to be involved in Mobile Money scams.

The suspects were arrested, following a tip-off from MTN about suspicious activities of a group based in Assin Daaman who allegedly send Mobile Money scam messages to subscribers with the intention of tricking them into sending funds to a designated number. They were arraigned before court and remanded in police custody.

Besides these strategies, the managers of the service are monitoring emerging threats and adoption of best practices to protect their customers from the nefarious activities of the fraudsters.

They also institute a formalized process for managing fraud arrest and prosecution as well as partnering with the law enforcement agencies to manage fraud cases associated with mobile money in the country.

Similarly, technology is being deployed to identify and deactivate SIM cards use in the MoMo fraud activities in Ghana.

 Identifiable loopholes

The mobile money fraud which is rampant in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, is however beginning to abase in Ghana because of the factors mentioned-above.

But the fraudsters are exploiting the vulnerability of the identifiable loopholes in the country’s national identification system, greed and ignorance on the part of MoMo account holders, among others.

In Ghana, not all the national ID cards permissible for the registration of mobile money account(s) are genuine, according to experts.

Because of this it is difficult to trace mobile money fraudsters and other criminals in the West African second largest economy after Nigeria.

The national ID cards which are permitted to be used for the registration of mobile money account(s) and SIM cards are a valid Passport, driver’s license issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card, Voter ID and National ID cards.

However some criminals do cheat these agencies mandated to issue these national ID cards. So some of the ID cards used in the mobile money account registrations could be faked, according to cyber security experts.

The Head of Research & Communications at the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Derek Laryea blamed mobile money fraud in the country on customers’ greed and ignorance.

He told African Eye Report that some customers’ attempt to get more money to solve their pressing demands end up being cheated by fraudsters.

The MoMo service providers added that inadequate customer vigilance and compromises, is among the contributory factor to mobile money fraud in the country.

Types of mobile money fraud

Anonymous calls from fraudsters: Customers receive calls from fraudsters after deposits to transfer funds received with the claim being airtime.

False Promotion: Customers are lured to authorize cash out transaction with the claim of winning Mobile Money promotion.

Cash out Fraud: Customers are pushed payment approval prompt and lured to enter their pin code in order to receive price won through Mobile Money.

Scam: Fraudsters calling to dupe customers under the pretext of delivering goods from abroad. Some fraudsters call and ask for specified amounts to be deposited into a mobile money account, in exchange for goods from relatives/friends from abroad.

False Cash out SMS: Fraudsters send false cash out messages to merchants for authorization of which the physical cash is issued by the merchant to the fraudster without the equivalent e-cash.

False Promotion SMSFraudulent consumers send fake SMS to agents either from their own handsets or generated from computers. The SMS looks genuine to the recipient.

The victims of mobile money fraud cut across all segments of the Ghanaian society to include actors and actresses, media practitioners, health workers, businesspeople, and the very vulnerables.

Growth in MoMo

The use of mobile money has grown exponentially over the past decades, making Ghana one of Africa’s leaders in mobile money innovation, adoption, and usage.

According to figures from the Bank of Ghana (BoG), mobile money accounts now surpass bank accounts and greater financial inclusion has benefited large swathes of the population that remain unbanked including the poor, the young, and women.

While access to traditional banking services remains almost a mirage for most Ghanaians, the universal availability of mobile phones has allowed millions to access mobile money services in the country.

Most Ghanaian phone users now rely on mobile money to send and receive money domestically. Recently, they are taking advantage of new services to also send and receive money internationally.

MoMo services

MobileMoney Limited which was the first to launch mobile money operations on July 21st 2009 has just finished celebrating its 10th anniversary in the West African country, in 2019.

Launched with two main services namely Money Transfer (P2P) and Airtime Purchase, the platform now has six major categories of financial transactions under which varying services are provided.

The services are pensions, insurance, savings, micro loans, shopping, payments, international remittances and banking/investment options.

Indeed, almost all the products and services of financial technology (fintechs) platforms in the country are powered by MoMo payment systems.

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report



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