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Hackers Hit Mobile Money Payments Processor In Uganda

Ugandan police are investigating the hacking of a third-party processor of phone-based transactions, Bloomberg reported, that affected MTN Group and Standard Bank Group‘s local units.

Charles Twine, spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Department, said the hackers had gotten into the mobile money systems and stolen funds, according to Bloomberg.

The investigation will determine the specifics, including how the systems were hacked, the people involved and the actual amount of the money stolen, Bloomberg reported.

MTN Uganda, Stanbic Bank Uganda and Airtel Africa‘s local unit said in a joint statement that the event had “impacted bank-to-mobile money transactions,” according to Bloomberg. Mobile money is a big market in Africa for making payments. It’s used for everything from buying groceries to paying bills, and there are options available to borrow, save and invest with almost any kind of cellphone.

The government also uses the system, and Bloomberg reported that it is essentially indispensable in the country, with breaches having wide-ranging impacts. While some services had to be suspended because of the hack, MTN said in a statement that no users’ funds were affected.

Fraud has increased during the pandemic, and PYMNTS reported that the current “age of distraction” in which the numerous crises of health, the economy and political issues have people spread in every direction. That has made it easy for fraudsters to implement their plans and steal peoples’ money.

Some estimates have the total loss of fraud from the pandemic at almost $100 million, with past PYMNTS reports saying 22 percent of Americans have been affected by some form of pandemic-related fraud.

Stephen Ritter, chief technology officer of Mitek Systems, told PYMNTS that even the traditional forms of fraud, like phishing and fake email links, have become more effective during the pandemic because of the country’s collective disorientation and confusion due to outside factors.

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