By Nqobile Tshili and Codelia Mondela
A new form of fraud involving EcoCash transactions has hit Bulawayo with unsuspecting businesses being duped by fraudsters allegedly using screen shots from previous transactions.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said the fraudsters were targeting businesses whose biller codes are known to them.
“A new fraud has emerged in the city where shops that use EcoCash to make transactions are allegedly being duped by individuals who pretend to pay using EcoCash. The culprits would show a cellphone screen shot confirming that a transaction has been completed, yet it will be message from a previous transaction,” said Insp Simango.
She said businesses should meticulously verify the time of transactions so that they do not fall victim to the fraudsters.
“We’re investigating such cases. I can’t disclose much information on the cases. But we want to urge businesses to continue accepting EcoCash as a method of making transactions in the era of plastic money in the country,” said Insp Simango.
A cashier at a city shop however, said it was easy to fish out fraudsters trying to dupe a shop using previous EcoCash transactions.
She added that one has to pay attention to the time and date on the transaction message.“The message that EcoCash sends to confirm completion of a transaction also states the time when that particular payment was made
. We also had the same challenge with individuals showing us a previous payment screen, yet the time and date did not tally with his latest claims of payment. So we threatened to report them to the police and they swiftly disappeared,” said the cashier.
In a related matter, an Econet agent from Bulawayo allegedly deactivated a customer’s cellphone line, re-activated it and withdrew more than $2 000 using the bank to EcoCash wallet transfer option.
Simbai Nhendere (28) is alleged to have connived with Robson Gamure who has not yet been arrested to steal from Mr Gilbert Phiri (55) last Wednesday at the Econet Shop along Robert Mugabe Street and Leopold Takawira Avenue.
Nhendere pleaded not guilty to theft before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Sharon Rosemani. He was remanded to next Wednesday on $60 bail.
Mr Mclean Ndlovu for the State alleged that Nhendere and Gamure connived and blocked Mr Phiri’s simcard. He said they later activated a duplicate one and withdrew $2 220.
“They withdrew the money from Mr Phiri’s POSB account through bank to wallet transactions. Nhendere as the Econet agent accepted Mr Phiri’s simcard without asking to see the original identity card or identifying the person replacing the simcard,” he said.
“Nhendere was the one who was in possession of the cellphone used to do transactions and he made the transactions while Gamure stood next to him.”
Mr Ndlovu said it was discovered that the two were communicating before the commission of the crime, since November 28. He said they knew each other and had planned to commit the crime.
“They transferred the money through bank to wallet then to EcoCash and converted the money to their own use,” Mr Ndlovu said. The Chronicle