5 common tricks MoMo fraudsters use for stealing your money

Mobile Money (MoMo) fraud has assumed so much notoriety for some time now as unsuspecting people keep falling victim to the menace.

Although a lot of education has been done concerning the issue, there’s still a lot of ignorance about what this really is. There are many types of MoMo fraud — borne out of the tricks MoMo fraudsters employ to get you to comply, and if you’re not careful, you may end up falling for one of their schemes before becoming aware of the mess you got involved in.

This article will enlighten you on the various tricks MoMo fraudsters use, as well as the names of each specific scam is described by.

The many types of MoMo fraudsters tricks

Mobile Money (MoMo) fraud can take many forms. Some come as business-related scams, and others are marketed as juicy promotions involving renowned organizations. There are many ways to be scammed by MoMo fraudsters, and here are 5 of them.

The distress call or message

This type of MoMo fraud is the most likely to catch you by surprise because they reach out to your contacts to scam money out of them. In a previous article, we learned how the victim lost an amount of GHS3,500 because they were under the impression that they were dealing with a business partner.

What happens is this: the MoMo fraudsters get in contact with people you know — by impersonating you — and pretend to be in some trouble, asking your friends and family to bail ‘you’ out by sending money to a different MoMo number. Usually, the explanation they give anyone who questions the unknown MoMo number is that the phone has developed a fault, rendering it unusable.

With this type, any attempt to call the number to verify the person behind the request is met with excuses that either the earpiece or mouthpiece is faulty. It’s a big lie. Avoid them, and you won’t be scammed.

Always insist on speaking to whoever is soliciting your assistance. No money is getting transferred if you can’t hear their voice and speak to them.

The business scam types of MoMo fraud

This type of MoMo fraud comes in five (5) forms.

  • Doubling of money
  • Fake recruitment exercises
  • Auctions and sale of items
  • Lotteries
  • Ponzi schemes

Except for the first and last examples, all the others may not seem too obvious. People may fall for job recruitment scams because they genuinely need jobs. However, you can save yourself from being a victim by simply checking out the institution’s website or social media handles.

You may even post enquiries on their page or comment sections so they can respond with a confirmation or denial.

And don’t get excited about lotteries too. A lot are scams. And unless you had a genuine ticket and was already participating in a known lottery, you shouldn’t pay any mind to such deals.

common tricks MoMo
(Image credit: John-Bunya Klutse / JBKlutse)

Extortion schemes

This is related to the first trick, and they come in the following forms:

  • Blackmail
  • Emotional scam
  • Fake kidnapping and ransom demands
  • Romance scam
  • Sextortion

With these types the MoMo fraudsters either blackmail victims with supposed nudes and sex tapes (sextortion), or try convincing them to send money to a supposed lover they chat online (romance scam), or manipulate them to pay a ransom to free someone the victim cares about. When possible, involve the police — especially in the kidnapping and ransom scams.

The fake transfer SMS (Smishing and vishing)

This is the most common trick that MoMo fraudsters employ as their modus operandi, and it is the easiest to identify as a fraud.
With this, you’d first receive an SMS ‘notification’ from a regular phone number stating that you’ve been sent some money. Next, you’d get another SMS stating that your MoMo account (or wallet) has been blocked due to a wrongful transfer made to you.

You should expect a follow-up call (vishing) from a supposed MTN staff. The fake staff is on your phone to make a fake balance confirmation. Don’t even entertain them.

Genuine MoMo alerts would be under the ‘MobileMoney’ thread in your SMS inbox.

The Use Cases

This one is mostly targeted at agents. Here, the MoMo fraudsters come posing as MTN-authorized field agents offering to teach the MoMo agent a new way of safely reversing wrong transactions.

Once the agent naively falls for it, they continue with their process, which involves an ATM token being generated. The scam succeeds when the MoMo agent enters their PIN in the pop-up message, and their account balance gets cleared.

Service provider’s stance

Contrary to what some victims may want to believe, MTN Ghana is not oblivious to what is happening. The telecommunications service provider is not looking on unconcerned. There are loopholes that these scammers exploit in the general Mobile Money space, and while there’s work going on to plug them, a lot can’t be said until they are implemented. But MTN Ghana is putting things in place to keep the situation in check.

This story is part of a series JBKlutse.com is developing to educate the public about Mobile Money fraudsters, their activities, and how to stay vigilant and not be a victim.

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