Fake MTN agents use WhatsApp to scam subscribers

Many MTN subscribers who looked for support through the company’s social media channels have fallen victim to scammers.

One MTN subscriber, Debbie Greyve, who was scammed, shared her story with Carte Blanche.

After struggling to resolve a problem with MTN for months, she turned to the company’s Facebook page for help.

Greyve posted her problem on the official MTN page, which contained a blue tick, and received a response.

Shortly after the response from an MTN agent on the Facebook page, she received a message from “Natasha MTNSA”.

She was, however, not an MTN agent. Natasha was a scammer who impersonated a support agent from MTN.

Natasha MTNSA provided her with information to build trust, including her MTN account number, residential address, bank account details, and the debit order amount.

Greyve highlighted that she did not share any of this information, which pointed to insider collusion.

Using what looked like an MTN Business Whatsapp account, the scammer told her she would settle an initial amount of R9,000.

The next day the scammers told Greyve that double the amount was deposited into her account by mistake.

This was indeed the case – the account showed an R18,000 deposit. She was asked to refund the erroneous R9,000 payment.

Natasha MTNSA opened Capfin and Wonga loans in Greyve and her husband’s names. The scammer directly benefitted from these loans.

Greyve and her husband are now liable for these loans and are R45,600 out of pocket.

Wendy Knowler
Wendy Knowler

This scam is not new. In April, consumer activist Wendy Knowler warned about fraudsters using Facebook and Twitter to target clients looking for support.

The scammers monitor Vodacom, MTN, Cell C’s Facebook and Twitter pages to identify people looking for help.

Pretending to be support agents, they approach the customers looking for help after making a public post.

They convince the customer to move the conversation to WhatsApp by showing sympathy and promising to resolve the problem.

“Once they have you on WhatsApp, they ask you for personal details to resolve the problem. This includes bank account details and related information,” said Knowler.

The scammers, masquerading as support agents, explain they need the banking details to reverse the debit orders.

Without any reason to doubt the intentions of the fake support agent, people typically provide this information.

The fraudsters then use this information to clone their identity and apply for loans and buy products in their name.

The identity theft victims are now liable for these loans and often have an uphill battle to reverse these transactions.

“It is incredibly difficult to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters who know our behaviour as consumers,” said Knowler. “They know how disgruntled consumers behave and how to exploit it.”

Jacqui O'Sullivan
MTN SA spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan

MTN SA’s executive for corporate affairs, Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband they cannot immediately comment on the specifics of Greyve’s case as they are not privy to the customer’s account information.

“We have, however, reached out to Carte Blanche to assist with obtaining these details to investigate the matter further,” she said.

In previous investigations of this type of fraud, MTN has found that the information used by the scammers did not originate from MTN.

“The information used by the scammers such as identity numbers, mobile numbers, and bank account details that are frequently sourced from a customer profile that is available on the credit bureau,” said O’Sullivan.

“This type of information was also made available in breaches outside of MTN, some of which were reported on last year.”

Now read: How fraudsters use Facebook and WhatsApp to steal money from South African mobile customers

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Fake MTN agents use WhatsApp to scam subscribers