Mysteriously losing his pension lump sum of $26 600 after he was tricked into revealing his personal identification number (PIN) code soon after receiving a dubious SMS on his phone purportedly sent by his bank has been a thorn in the flesh and tears Reuben Mpofu’s heart part.
The misfortune left Mpofu (54) of Makokoba suburb, having make two important trips — one to the police station where investigations are being carried out and the other to the bank almost daily. However, so far these trips have been in vain and the fraudsters are still at large.
A B-Metro news crew paid him a visit at his home. He was with his wife Nomalanga Gondokwe. His three children aged four, nine and 12 had gone to school.
In his short, short-sleeve shirt, cap and sandals Mpofu looked gutted but he had his wife by his side who has been a shoulder to lean on.
“Yah life is hard my brother!” he said while wiping his face with his cap in despair.
His wife interjected saying: “We want our money, failure to that those who took it will die mysteriously.”
Mpofu summoned courage and recounted how he was duped.
“It was at around 11am on Saturday while I was relaxing at home. I received three messages saying you are about to activate your OTP number. After that a person phoned me saying I’m phoning from Cabs, kindly send me your OTP digits. I sent them after that I saw money subtracting, at first $5 000 went,” said the dejected ex-dog trainer.
He said a day after he was defrauded he went to the bank to report the unfortunate incident. Something disturbing happened while he was in the banking hall.
“While was in the queue I received a call from a guy who identified himself as Tapera and had to get out of the bank to answer the call since it is not allowed to answer a call inside a bank ,”he said.
He added: “The guy (Tapera) phoned saying I should wait for him as he was coming to give me my money back. I waited for about 20 minutes but the guy did not come. A thought flashed across my mind that I had been duped. I went inside the bank and approached the bank manager. I explained my story after that the manager told me that I have been defrauded and I should make a police report. I reported the matter to the police,” he said.
Mpofu says almost six days a week he has to make important trips to CID offices and to the bank.
“It’s tiresome as I have to wake up early in the morning and head to the police station to get an update on my fraud case after that I have to rush to the bank to get an update as well. So far there is nothing positive that has come out,” he said while casting a sorrowful figure.
The unfortunate incident hit him where it matters most and all his hope and plans have been shattered.
“We have no source of income. My wife is not employed as well. We had planned that we would buy a house stand and build our own shelter. We had also planned to buy two cows in our rural home in Gokwe under Chief Chireya but all that has been ruined,” he said.
His wife added: “I do not know how our children will travel to school and where we will get money to pay for their school fees. All along we have been relying on borrowing money from relatives for our rent, food and transport fares for our children as we had hoped that we will pay them back after receiving the pension but the devil pounced on us. Now we have been plunged into a crisis,” said Gondokwe.
Police spokesperson for Bulawayo province Chief Inspector Precious Simango confirmed the incident, saying they had since launched investigations.
“Yes, I can confirm that a 54-year-old man from Makokoba suburb in Bulawayo lost $26 612,97 in a suspected online scam. On October 5, the complainant received an SMS on his mobile purportedly from CABS. The message read ‘<#>Alert! You are about to activate the App on a new device. OTP 317771. Do not share this OTP tzJaIDZOLCG’. The complainant had earlier ignored the first same message, which was sent at 12.13 hours on the same day with OTP 631220,” she said.
Chief Insp Simango warned people against responding to suspicious messages on their phones.
“As police we would like to warn members of the public against responding to suspicious messages sent on their cellphones purportedly from their banks in light of the prevalence of online scams. Should you receive phone calls from strangers requesting you to supply them with your banking details report the matter to the police.
The Government recently approved the Cyber Crime, Security and Data Protection Bill which seeks to combat cyber-crimes and enhance security in the wake of rampant abuse of the platform.