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SIM swap fraudsters nabbed

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MTN has participated in a SAPS sting operation that has led to the arrest of a key suspect said to be a key player in a recent spate of SIM-swap fraud.

A SIM-swap allows mobile network operators to issue a new SIM card to customers who have lost their cell phone and port the same number to the new phone.

MTN’s forensic services team worked closely with the Wierda Brug police in Centurion to track down and arrest an individual linked to the fraudulent SIM-swaps of MTN customers and perpetrating further scams nationwide.

The scam works when the criminal obtains access to a customers’ bank accounts details including the PIN and passwords. MTN is not certain as to how this information is compromised, but understands that it can be done through phishing or when a customer‚’s personal documents such as ID documents are compromised.

Phishing involves fraudsters sending e-mails to unsuspecting targets creating the impression that the e-mail comes from the customers’ bank. Customers are asked to update their personal and banking data that allows access to funds.

Once in possession of these bank details, the fraudster performs a SIM-swap and gets possession of the customers’ phone number and thus receives bank notifications meant for the customer. This is the latest in a series of scams allowing fraudulent transactions to be made on a target’s account.

Says Lilly Zondo, General Manager Business risk: ‚”MTN’s forensic team and Centurion’s Wierdeburg police have made great strides in the tracking and monitoring the suspect’s activities. A special team has been tasked with initiating security measures to protect MTN customers such as an improved authentication process when carrying out a SIM-swap. This delays the SIM-swap until the legitimate customer has confirmed the request via SMS. We continue to find and implement security controls to eliminate fraud using cell phones.

‚”Protecting our customers’ means tightening up on our systems development to both improve security and service delivery,‚” she says.

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