Zambia’s efforts to establish a digital economy is under the spotlight following a spate of abductions of mobile money booth operators and agents that are allegedly being held for ransom.
Operators have suspended services and demand security from law enforcement.
Zambia police services Inspector General Lemmy Kajoba has called for calm and said the police were actively pursuing the criminals.
“The Zambia Police Service wishes to inform the general public that we are actively investigating the latest matter involving the abduction of a mobile money agent. The victim was at her Airtel mobile money booth on April 13, 2022 around 14:00 hours when two male persons went to her booth and pretended to be customers wanting to transact money but ended up abducting her. They are demanding a ransom of ZMK15, 000 for them to release her.”
Recently the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security announced that to date ten people have been arrested in connection with the abductions and mobile money fraud.
In March this year, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) announced that it had deactivated two SIM cards across the country on grounds that they illegally registered and that they were used to commit digital fraud.
With SIM cards blocked, criminal have now resorted to abducting mobile money agents for ransom.
ZICTA Acting Director General Mwenya Mutale said, “The authority was working with law enforcement agents to combat mobile money scams which have left many mobile money subscribers victims.”
According to the regulator, the country has experienced an increase in the use of digital financial services with mobile money transactions increasing to ZMK105.6-billion by the end of last year from ZMK49.6-billion in 2019, representing a 119% increase.