The nation is hard-pressed by serious economic challenges and that creates the necessary cohesion for people to engage in criminal activity. The crimes committed are wide-ranging and one of such are scams. Simply put, a scam is a fraudulent business scheme. Fraudulent in that it involves the devising of crafty plans for making money that are premised on tricking, deceiving or misleading people.

Perpetrators usually take advantage of people’s trusting nature or their ignorance of certain things. One of the most elementary reasons as to why someone would fall prey to scammers can be that they aren’t aware of the existence of such scams. Herein I’ll delineate some common scams in Zimbabwe to better equip you & to build a framework around which you can be more vigilant in whatever scenario.

Currency Exchange (Money Changing)

Now we all know that the black market is rife these days due to the existence of the bond. Many people often have to change forex to bond or RTGS or vice versa and they mostly turn to money changers for this. The types of scamming in this domain are quite diverse but some examples are distracting a client such that the culprit slips away some notes from a supposed adequately counted pile. Another instance could be including fake notes on a counted pile or receiving money from the client and running away before executing the transaction (on the pretext of running away from police). These are some of the scams and it’s expedient to pay close attention & to never get distracted.

Cloning Of Cards

This is usually done by culprits who collude with attendants at points of sale who use POS machines. This they will do so that they get account details of individuals by cloning their cards using skimming machines. Usually when a card is cloned, the next time you use it it declines several times; that can be a tell sign that something isn’t right. You can also start seeing unusual transactions that you wouldn’t have done as the perpetrators will be withdrawing from your account. Stay vigilant and ensure your card isn’t skimmed & always check up on your account activity or sign up to receive real-time mobile notifications of transactions.

Fake Or Imitated Products

Lots of people are victims of this, from gadgets, cosmetics, clothing, even food stuffs etc. People have become so industrious that they can come up with convincing replicas of lots of products. Buying things from credible & reputable outlets goes a long way in curbing this. Chances are that if you buy items from shady outlets or from the street you might fall prey to culprits. Usually anything you buy unsealed or improperly sealed tells a story that one shouldn’t ignore.

Fake Messages from Supposed Service Providers

This comes in various forms of which I will state an example, you can receive an SMS, call or email from a person posing to be a bank agent. The crux will be to ultimately make you give up your bank details that will then allow them to withdraw money from your account. Here is a real-life story that happened, around July last year there was a man who was defrauded of $1100 after he thought he was actually in touch with a satellite TV provider. The culprit had posed as an agent and had indicated that they had rolled out a new set of channels that needed to be subscribed for. Fortunately the perpetrators were traced & convicted.

Email-Based Scams

These come in various shapes & forms, I will focus on a common one where culprits identify people on Facebook and ask to communicate with them via email. They will pose as a refugee of war who is orphaned & was left a huge financial inheritance (usually in the millions of dollars), supposedly. Their story will be centred on that you have to help them get access to the money and then you will get a share in the end. How you’ll lose money in this is that you are asked to pay certain fees (which will look insignificant given the ridiculously huge amount promised) to process the numerous stages of trying to access the money. It’s an elaborate scheme that involves a syndicate of highly tech-savvy people. As the adage goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. These perpetrators hail mostly from Nigeria but lots of locals have fallen prey to this, I myself several years ago almost fell victim to this.

Phishing Scams

Phishing entails the disguised access to or stealing of your personal details through seemingly harmless messages or links. For instance, many times people circulate messages of free data offers. The moment you click those links you either unknowingly propagate phishing software onto your phone or device or your get personal details of emails, bank accounts etc, stolen.

Prize Draw Scams

This is for instance when you receive a message saying that you have been randomly selected and have won prize money from a local brand or retailer. There is an example of a man who received such a message as having won in random pick draw by a local brand; the prize money was around $1000. They then received a subsequent message instructing them to Ecocash a certain amount of money to a certain number so that they could process their access to their prize. It turned out it was all a scam and many people have been duped this way even online.

Employment Or Scholarship Offers

Many times on social media, messages of employment or scholarship offers circulate. If it’s a scam, upon responding or applying you’ll be asked to send processing fees and that’s the money you’ll lose out on.

Scams are plenty and are ever-evolving; it calls for one to be vigilant & observant at all times. Cultivate in you an inquisitive nature so that you quickly note red flags and act on them. Don’t ignore gut feelings, stay woke!