Overview of Tom Muleya Fraud
The advent of technological advancement resulting in mass migration to cyberspace has brought many good things and many challenges globally.
While people are enjoying fast connectivity and ease of doing business on cyberspace, the biggest challenge has been 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.
As technology becomes more sophisticated every day, social media account holders cannot afford to be so careless that they fail to protect their personal information.
Account protection should be part of our daily routine. People shouldn’t ignore safety basics just because they’re on social media.
Criminals evolve over time and improve their skills every day to maximize their monetary gain. In the past, criminals would run fraudulent advertisements for residential stalls and car sales in various local newspapers, but now they do it easily and cheaply on social media platforms.
When reporting to the police, Mr X said he had been duped out of US$4,000 through Facebook.
The circumstances are that he saw an ad for a residential booth on Facebook for sale. After viewing the residential stand on Facebook, he showed interest and then contacted the seller on the cell numbers provided.
He was further informed that after making the payment, he would have to meet the broker at the local council offices for further processes.
Mr. X goes to the town hall as advised to meet Mr. Y, who cannot be found. He then realized that he had been duped.
The above case study is quite interesting. But what happened? Why was Mr. X duped? Could he have avoided this Facebook fraud involving a residential stand? Regarding the first question, Mr. X was tricked into buying a non-existent booth by an impostor on Facebook who happens to be Mr. Y and suffered a loss of US$4,000. Mr. X was duped because he failed to exercise due diligence when selling residential booths.
While it was hard to tell at first glance that the ad was fraudulent on Facebook, Mr. X could have avoided being duped if he had done the following:
- Conducted a due diligence process before making payment.
- Visited the Registrar of Deeds to conduct a deed search.
- Visit of the municipal council which had jurisdiction over the alleged stand.
- Physically met the seller to identify the person behind the sale.
- Visited and physically viewed the residential booth in question outside of the Facebook presentation.
- Survey of neighbors to establish the status of the residential lot in question.
- If it was a company selling the booth, he would have had to go to their offices and hire the lawyers to hold the money in trust until all processes were finalized.
- Not allowing pressure and rushing to make payment soon after expressing interest.
- He should have known there was a good chance it was a fraudulent stand sale since the criminals also took to social media.
- Know that business on Facebook is subject to manipulation.
Take part in the fight against cybercrime on social networks. Your safety in cyberspace is important, think about cybersecurity, practice cyber hygiene, and be careful when doing business on social media.
For your comments, WhatsApp line: 0772 764 043, or e-mail:[email protected] Tom Muleya is an Assistant Detective Inspector working for CID’s Commercial Crimes Division. He is also a member of the National Cyber Security Taskforce, Zimbabwe.