Tom Muleya Fraud Insight
The advent of technological advancement culminating in massive migration to cyber space has brought many good things and many challenges globally.
While people enjoy fast connectivity and the easy way of doing business on cyber space, the greatest challenge has been that of people not taking protective measures on various social media platforms.
In the local context, the most frequented sites, at the same time so vulnerable, are WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. There are many stories of people who have been hacked or defrauded on these social media platforms.
Since technology is becoming more sophisticated each day, social media accounts holders cannot afford to be careless to the extent of not protecting their personal information.
Protecting accounts should be part of our daily routine. People should not ignore basic principles of security because they are on social media.
Criminals move with times and are upgrading their skills every day to maximise on monetary gain. In the past, criminals would flight fraudulent adverts for residential stands and sale of cars in various local newspapers but now they are cheaply and easily doing it on social media platforms.
Mr X while making a report to the police stated that he was duped of US$4 000 through Facebook.
The circumstances are that he saw an advert for a residential stand on Facebook for sale. After viewing the residential stand on Facebook, he was interested and then contacted the salesman on the mobile numbers provided.
He was further advised that after making payment, he should meet with the broker at the local city council offices for further processes.
Mr X went to the city council as advised to meet Mr Y, who was nowhere to be seen. He then realised he was duped.
The case study above is quite interesting. But what happened? Why was Mr X duped? Could he have avoided this Facebook fraud involving a residential stand? Looking at the first question, Mr X was duped into buying a non-existent stand by an impostor on Facebook who happens to be Mr Y and was prejudiced of US$4 000. Mr X was duped because he did not do due diligence on the sale of residential stands.
While it was difficult to tell at first sight that the advert was fraudulent on Facebook, Mr X could have avoided being duped if he had done the following:
- Conducted due diligence process prior to making payment.
- Visited the Registrar of Deeds to conduct a deed search.
- Visited the city council which had jurisdiction over the purported stand.
- Physically met the seller to establish the person behind the sale.
- Visited and physically view the residential stand in question apart from the Facebook presentation.
- Enquired from the neighbours to establish the status of the residential stand in question.
- If it was a company selling the stand, he should have visited their offices and engaged the lawyers to hold the money in trust until all processes were finalised.
- Not have allowed pressure and rushed into making payment soon after expressing interest.
- He should have known that chances were high that it was a fraudulent sale of stand since criminals have also taken to social media.
- Have known that business on Facebook is subject to manipulation.
Participate in the fight against cybercrime on social media. Your security on cyberspace matters, Think Cyber Security, practice Cyber hygiene, and Be careful when you do business on social media.
For your feedback, WhatsApp line: 0772 764 043, or e-mail:[email protected] Tom Muleya is a Detective Assistant Inspector working under the CID Commercial Crimes Division. He is also a member of the National Cyber Security Taskforce, Zimbabwe.