By Prudence Minayo
Today, Mpesa is a must have for most Kenyans looking to transact cash in an easy manner. This is the reason the country is full of Mpesa agents who offer this service. However, over the years, these agents have been the target of crafty fraudsters who are keen on making easy cash by preying on their businesses.
The cases of Mpesa agents losing money to fraudsters are so many and what is worse is the fact that almost all the fraudsters never get arrested and prosecuted for these crimes. This is the more reason Mpesa agent shop attendants must be extra vigilant.
This article takes a look at some of the ways Mpesa agents are losing money to fraudsters.
It is very possible for a thief to swap an agent’s phone with another, especially if the agent is not careful. In a recent incident published on Nairobi News, a fraudster in the pretext of withdrawing money crammed the PIN number of the phone the agent was using. He came back a second time with a woman who was an accomplice and she distracted the agent while the man swapped the phone with a similar one.
After leaving, the agent discovered the phone wasn’t his and by the time he was contacting Safaricom it was too late. He had lost Kshs.29,000.
The lesson is to stay vigilant and ensure no one gets near the phone the agent uses. Put the phone away from the counter and in a place where someone on the outside does not have access. Also avoid prying eyes when keying in the pin.
There is a reason why agents have their phones and those transacting have theirs.
A few years back, there were cases reported in Embu about cheap phone carrying gang targeting agents.
“ The frauders carry cheap phones and pretend to withdraw the money but never use the agent number displayed and in the process complain to the agent about the transactions not going through. The fraudster then suggest to the ill-trained agent to use his (fraudster’s) phone to call Safaricom Customer Care for assistance and the agent is connected to his accomplice on the other side where she is directed what to do and all the float money is withdrawn. Before the agent realizes what is happening the fraudster sneaks out leaving behind his phone and then he withdraws the money immediately at another agent,” said Meli
(Quoted from Countyreview.co.ke)
This necessitates the need to ensure Mpesa agent employees are well trained because this mostly happens to those without proper training. The other thing is to be vigilant and ask the person to show you the message showing the failed transaction. The person can then contact Safaricom using his/her phone if indeed there is a problem or the Mpesa employee agent may use his phone if the problem lies with the agent.
As more and more Mpesa agents are becoming vigilant, fraudsters are also finding new ways to steal them. The easiest and non-complicated one is by drugging them. There have been cases where the drug is sprayed on the agent’s face and while the agent dozes off, the fraudster clears the money quickly and efficiently.
To avoid this, most agent shop owners should think of installing glass windows to separate them and the customers rather than an open space alone. This ensures the agent has as minimal contact as possible with the person transacting.
Gun toting gangsters
This is the worst lot. Cases of agents being attacked by trigger happy gangsters is well documented. If an agent encounters such a gang, the wise thing is to surrender the money.
Always counter-check if the cash a customer is depositing is not fake. You can feel the texture of the notes or better still have a UV light to be sure.
Any agent owner or employee can fall victim to unscrupulous people willing to do anything to steal from them. Thus, it is very important to stay vigilant and ensure to employ only trained individuals to work at the Mpesa if you are the owner, or provide them with enough training before entrusting the shop to them. There are many other ways to get conned as an agent e, the key is to always stay alert and never assume any customer is unable to steal. Assume any customer has the ability to steal from you.