THE Commercial Crimes Division of the police is seized with investigation of numerous cases involving WhatsApp hacking in which millions of dollars in local currency have been lost through illegal financial transactions.
These scams are being fuelled by the parallel market rate of the US dollar to local currency
The demand has seen many so called middlemen linking hackers to their intended victims.
Only time will tell whether the middlemen who are initial recipients of the fraudulent message are part of the criminal deals or not.
In some instances, a single transaction will involve a chain of referral players before getting to the victim.
In the previous article, we looked at the case of a victim from the church WhatsApp group who was duped supposing that it was a fellow member of the Church.
In the following and differing scenario, ‘X’ received a text message from ‘Y’ a known person among his contacts indicating that he was looking for an urgent local currency bank transfer in exchange for US$5 000.
‘X’, the middlemen did not have the capacity for required money in question so he contacted ‘Z’ by forwarding the fraudulent text message.
X and Z chatted together, and X assured Z that it was a clean deal.
Z then transferred $1 million into a supplied bank account belonging to ‘W’. After transferring the money, Y was no longer reachable and never turned up with US$5 000.
When the real Y was, after some days seen, he professed ignorance to the transaction in question and claimed his WhatsApp was hacked.
In the above scenario, Z lost $1 000 000 to the hacker who was impersonating Y.
But X the middlemen helped the criminal either consciously or subconsciously by linking the criminal in the name of Y to the victim Z whom he knew had money.
But could this type of fraud have been avoided or prevented?
Indeed, the above WhatsApp advance fee fraud by hacking could have been avoided if the following preventive measures were considered.
X should not have responded to the fraudulent message that was purporting to be coming from Y, though Y was a known contact to him.
X should not have forwarded the fraudulent message to Z before thorough verification.
He should have known or suspected that the message was fraudulent.
The tone and urgency for the transfer spoke volumes of criminal act.
Z should have conducted due diligence process, including meeting Y personally for brief interview before transferring such large amount of money.
Z should have queried why the money was supposed to be transferred into W’s Bank account instead of Y’s account.
Z should not have involved himself in an illegal transaction that was being facilitated by X.
Z should have followed basic business principles in relation to financial transactions.
If you find yourself in the similar situation as X and Z, consider the suggested preventive measures as indicated above. Get empowered by Fraud Insight and be part of a solution to the problem of fraud. Watch out for the next issue.
For your feedback, WhatsApp line: 0772 764 043, or e-mail:[email protected] Tom Muleya is a Detective Assistant Inspector working under the Criminal Investigations Department. Harare. He is also a member of the National Cyber Security Taskforce, Zimbabwe.