By Saron Obia- Cyber Security Expert
Mobile money has become a global menace. In Cameroon cybercriminals, as well as nonconventional actors, use this medium to extort money from citizens, the latest is now a chanted song called ‘support the struggle’ still known as the ‘Anglophone Crisis’. With the cheap rate at which SIM cards are sold and poor identification methods in some countries and Cameroon in particular which mobile operating companies encounter a serious challenge is stopping this deviant behavior of youngsters.
Criminals purchase a phone (Choroko), or smartphones for international scams from the black market (Avenue Kennedy, Yaoundé) to perpetrate crimes and later resale or damage. When they get this phone, the buy SIM cards from commercial agents and identify the SIM with the agent’s identity card, claiming to have forgotten theirs (identity theft), which they use to perpetrate crimes. Others use the attestation of lost to identify SIM cards and create mobile money accounts use for their hits.
Moreover, they send messages (SMS) to any cell number requesting the person to update or change his mobile money personal identifying number (PIN) following a security modification at the operation center. Code is usually given for the pin to be sent when validated the account is automatically empty by the criminal monitoring the victim from his laptop or smartphone. Some request victims (Jk, Maga, and Mugu) to effectuate mobile money transactions to their number following a game the won, as the number of the latter was shortlisted by the mobile agency. If the latter does this operation using a commercial agent (working for a mobile operating company) along the street, the account is immediately emptied.
Cybercriminal Mobile Money (MOMO) Pattern
Criminal investigations are often challenging due to negligence and inadequate cybersecurity measures by mobile operating companies and law enforcement officers. Poor authentication methods and inadequate education for those involved in the battle against non-conventional crimes. As such, police officers turn to track the wrong person, while the criminals using different identities go scot-free. A commissioner or an individual not aware of his name, phone number (cloned) and residence gotten from social media, is been used by a cybercriminal may be under investigation and even shortlisted as wanted individuals.
In conclusion, the government needs a team of cyber warriors, which constitute of hackers (ethical hackers), cybersecurity consultants, bug bounty hunters and also work with students following security course in universities as well as lay private institutions to combat this emerging challenge that ruins banks, mobile operating companies, and breach into strategic state infrastructures, as the National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ANTIC) in 2015 revealed that 90 percent of the software and operating systems used in Cameroon have been hacked.