2 January 2013

Uganda: Fraud, Fake Notes Hit Mobile Money Services

Photo: Kate Lucy/AllAfrica
Uganda ranked the biggest recipient of dirty money.

The highest number of cases lodged with the economic crimes desk involve fraud in mobile money services, the Acting Economic Crimes Commissioner at CIID headquarters, ACP Susan Kalukusu, has said.

Speaking at a one-day workshop organized by the Uganda Mobile Money Agents Association (UMMAA) at Serena hotel recently, Kalukusu revealed that she's currently handling a case in which three girls are accused of stealing Shs 100m from a mobile money service provider.

"In a bid to investigate the matter, an officer followed the procedure of swearing an affidavit from court but was frustrated by the service provider who never wanted to release the print-out (of mobile money transactions). This automatically means that the case can no longer stand because there was no evidence. We went ahead and advised the service provider to keep one of the girls working as we investigate but were shocked when the girl was fired from work," Kalukusu said.

Kalukusu added that from preliminary findings, agents of Mobile money firms are complicit in the fraud because they are not cooperative.

"It makes no sense for one to report a case at police and at the same time try to protect the suspects," said Kalukusu, before adding that fake currencies are rampant in mobile money distribution circles.

Godfrey Yiga Masajja, the deputy director of Commercial Banking in Bank of Uganda, revealed that he has heard many complaints of customers' monies being swindled by agents. He strongly noted that agents should immediately stop sending money on clients' behalf. He said their role is to cash in and cash out.

"We are currently working with the Uganda Communications Commission to put in place a regulatory framework for these financial institutions. Our role as Central Bank is to regulate any organization with a financial aspect and soon we shall take over," Masajja said.

The chairman of the Uganda Mobile Money Agents Association (UMMAA) Moses Ihoza revealed that they are faced with lots of challenges among which is the lack of a proper regulatory framework.

He also noted that they have found massive fraud both at telecommunication companies and agents' level. He said some telecommunication companies want to exclusively operate other businesses. He added that now that the organization, UMMAA has been formed and the central Bank is working together with UCC to regulate the Mobile money services this will build customer agent confidence.

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