By: Josephine Wreh
Claim: A WhatsApp message purportedly originating from the United Bank for Africa and alerting customers of fraud has been widely circulated on both WhatsApp and Messenger generating tons of reactions.
The Management of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Liberia has denied that the message originated from the bank.
A viral WhatsApp message which claimed to have originated from the United Bank of Africa warns customers about a new High Tech Fraud called “Sims Swap Fraud.” The scam is said to have victimized hundreds of people already.
The message warns: Your Bank Account could be emptied without an Alert. Dear All, Please let’ be very careful.. There is a new HIGH TECH FRAUD in town called the SIM SWAP FRAUD, and hundreds of persons are already VICTIMS.”
How does it work? 1. A new fraud called SIM SWAP has started. Your phone network will momentarily go blind / zero (No Signal / Zero Bars) and after a while a call will come through. 2. The Person on the other end of the call will tell you that he is calling from (your cell phone company) depending on your network and that there is a problem in your mobile network. 3. He will instruct you to please press 1 on your phone to get the network back. – Please at this stage don’ to Press anything, just cut or END the call. If you press 1, the network will appear suddenly and almost immediately go blind again (Zero Bars) and by that action, your phone is #HACKED. Within a second, they will empty your bank account, and you won’t receive any alert.
The alert warns further, What you will experience. It will appear as though your line is without Network; meanwhile your SIM has been SWAPPED. The danger here is that you will not get any alert of any transactions, so please those of us doing USSD Banking and Mobile Banking BEWARE. Let’sbe very careful. Please, forward to your contacts, loved ones and friends.
The fraud is increasing day by day. And it ended by encouraging all to share the message “Don’t forget to share this post…… I repeat don’t forget to share this post. Many people’s Account has been emptied! #UBAcares.
In our effort to verify the authenticity of the claim, we contacted Emmanuel K. Barnes, the Branch Manager of UBA Liberia for Redlight Branch, to verify the source of the claim but Barnes denied that the message originated from the Bank.
“We are not the ones sending such messages, whatever message we have for our customers, we would send through phone number directly or post it on our Facebook page which is called UBA Liberia,” he said.
He added that the system at the UBA is well built which makes it highly improbable for hackers to access and penetrate.
Also, the head of Digital Marketing at UBA Liberia, Momolu Momo, said the bank has already received numerous calls from customers on the fraud alert but had informed them that the alert did not come from the Bank.
“Some of our customers called to find out why some of them did not receive the message on their phones but instead seeing it on social media platforms, but we told them it was not from us,” he said.
Our reporter also spoke with the communications manager at Orange Liberia Betty Flahn, one of Liberia’s leading GSM companies who said that it is impossible to swap a person’s sim with just a phone call.
In an interview via phone, Liberian IT expert Lauren E. A. Kolleh added that the swapping of sim cards does not work by just a phone call.
“Before you swap a sim the person’s phone has to be in your hands, without that it is impossible.”
Based on the UBA Liberia management findings, we have concluded that the Fraud Alert message circulating on Messenger and WhatsApp that the message did not originate from UBA Liberia as mentioned in the claim.
This story is published in collaboration with Dubawa