MTN Group chair Mcebisi Jonas identity mimicked in CSI fraud
Mcebisi Jonas, chairman of Africa’s largest telecoms group MTN, has fallen victim of impersonation as criminals assumed his identity to solicit money.
MTN Group, which has over 289 million subscribers across 19 markets, announced yesterday it will be commencing an internal audit and forensic process in an effort to weed out an organised crime syndicate, after it had been alerted to impersonation crime.
Impersonation has been on the increase in South Africa, where MTN is headquartered, with analysts warning it will escalate this year.
Last year in SA, impersonation increased by 264% for the first five months of the year compared to 2021, according to the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS), a non-profit organisation preventing fraud as a result of identity theft and impersonation.
The SAFPS sounded warning bells on the uptick of impersonation crimes, as fraudsters prey on their victims through phishing,smishing and vishing.
Phishing uses emails and links, smishing uses text messages or common messaging apps, and vishing uses voice calls and voicemails to obtain sensitive information
Yesterday, MTN Group informed the public of the impersonation of its chairman, saying it had been ‘made aware of incidents related to the false solicitation of funding under the guise of requests for sponsorship towards the company’s Corporate Social Investment projects’.
“We have been made aware of an increasing number of incidents where our Group chairman of the board, Mcebisi Jonas, is being impersonated or false representatives reach out to the public requesting funding towards MTN foundation projects.
"This matter has been escalated with our Internal Audit and Forensic team and an investigation is underway,” said Nompilo Morafo, MTN Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer.
“We urge the public to not fall prey to scammers and report all suspicious and unsolicited phone calls, emails and WhatsApp communication received to us.”
How the scam works
The fraudsters contact targeted victims, introducing themselves as an MTN representative and requests that an urgent EFT payment is made to a specific recipient, towards MTN operating company foundations projects.
Red flags the public should be aware of:
- Emails or phone calls asking for personal details and/or urgent payments
- Links or attachments that you haven’t specifically asked for
- Links within suspicious emails (do not click on these)
- Strange email addresses and phone numbers (verify the contacts details)
- Fictitious email domains are a giveaway. For example, using a “0” (zero) rather than a capital “O” (the letter) or other substitutions, such as using a lower case “r” and “n” (rn) in place of the letter “m”.
What to do should fraudsters contact you
MTN is urging the public to not click on any WhatsApp messages or emails with unusual requests.
All scam attempts including phone calls received from unregistered numbers should be reported to the Group’s Internal Audit and Forensic Services team on firstname.lastname@example.org.