Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Forex Traders’ Association of Zimbabwe (Fotraz) has urged its members to be alert for cyber criminals who are on the prowl using social media platforms to swindle unsuspecting online foreign currency traders.
Fotraz was launched early this year in Bulawayo by Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister Raj Modi to help traders navigate the online trading market.
There has been an increase in scams by rings of cyber criminals using WhatsApp and mobile money transfer services to dupe unsuspecting online forex traders.
Fotraz technical oversight committee chairperson Mr Munashe Maziwanhanga said:
“We have noted a vicious ring of cyber criminals going around scamming unsuspecting people of their hard-earned money using WhatsApp and EcoCash.”
He said the latest case that has been brought to their attention involves a ring led by a 22-year old (name withheld) who is alleged to have this week conned an online forex trader of ZWL$6 000.
The money was sent to an FBC Bank account number 0203070220910100 and from there the money was given to one of the 22 year-old’s accomplices only identified as Patrick whom the police are actively looking for.
A report under docket number CR76/19 was made at Kumalo police base in Bulawayo against the 22 year-old residing at number 4, 12th Close Gullane Rd, Ivene in Gweru but runs the operation from South Africa, said Mr Maziwanhanga.
He said after making profits from the international markets, the online forex traders usually receive these profits via “e-wallets” such as PayPal.
“The online traders then face the challenge of converting this money to local currency for use locally. This where the cyber criminals come in as they pretend to have local currency. Using a fake EcoCash account the cyber criminals instruct unsuspecting individuals to transfer their ‘e-money’ to their own wallets in promise of exchange for EcoCash,” said Mr Maziwanhanga.
“When an unsuspecting trader does so, the cyber criminals then disappear and it is upon reporting the matter to the police that it will be revealed that the EcoCash account is a fake account.”
Business Chronicle is reliably informed that Gweru man may have conned over 17 people in the same way and Fotraz was urging individuals who could have fallen prey to the accused to make a police report.
In some WhatsApp messages seen by this paper, the suspect used cyber bullying techniques to intimidate his victims.
In one of the messages, he threatened to use one of the victim’s phone numbers in his next scam.
“Such threats have the effect of making the victims back off and walk away,” Mr Maziwanhanga said.
Fotraz chairman, Mr Kuda Manzanga, urged their members and the diaspora community who want to access their forex to use their local nostro accounts to minimise the risk of cyber crime.
“We actually went on an awareness campaign to encourage people to remit their money using their individual nostro accounts.
“This is a safer alternative as there is clear traceability especially since there is now a vibrant interbank market, people can easily convert their forex to local currency.
“We are pleased that some of our 800 members have heeded this call. We also call upon people to report any cases of cyber crime that they experience to the police,” he said. — @okazunga.