Police has reported an increase in cyber related crimes cases involving people who use social media to impersonate top government officials especially Ministers with an intention of defrauding unsuspecting Ugandans.
The Police spokesperson, CP Fred Enanga said that in recent months, Police have received numerous complaints from Ministers and MPs who say fake Facebook accounts have been opened in their names and used to fleece the public.
Officials that have so far registered complaints to Police include Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Ministers; Monica Ntege Azuba, Persis Namuganza, David Karubanda, UNRA executive director Allen Kagina and the NRM Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba.
“Our cyber crime unit is continuing to register cases of increased impersonation, electronic fraud and obtaining money by false pretence,” CP Enanga told reporters on Monday.
“We got a complaint of impersonation from the Honourable Minister of Works and Transport where a Facebook page under the names of Hon Monica Azuba Ntege emerged, announcing free motorcycles to Ugandan citizens,” Enanga said.
The person behind the fake account asked interested persons to apply by paying Shs 20,000 through a telephone number posted on the page. The number is registered in the names Juma Kigozi.
One suspect has been arrested in connection to the case, Enanga said.
“There is a tendency which is going on where we are seeing an increase in impersonation of VIPs”.
Last month, the Police Cyber Unit of Police also arrested a one Ntabi Ivan for impersonating Maj Gen Peter Elwelu, commander of the UPDF Land Forces.
It is alleged that Ntabi created a Facebook page which he used to solicit money from civilians and soldiers. Police tracked him down and recovered some of the money he had so far collected.
Another suspect named Mugyenyi Ronald was also apprehended for disguising self as David Karubanga, the Minister of State for Public Service. Mugyenyi was charged in court with electronic fraud, obtaining money by false pretence and impersonation. He too solicited money through a Facebook page in the names of the Minister. In exchange, the suspect promised his unsuspecting targets, jobs in government agencies.
Police also arrested James Omara for threatening violence against Omoro district woman MP, Catherine Lamwaka. Enanga said Omara used his phone to send threatening messages as well as to harass the female MP. He was tracked down, arrested and charged in court.
The most recent arrest over the weekend was of a man identified as Katumba Bashir who was disguising himself as the Personal Assistant of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (IGP). Bashir is accused of defrauding Shs 5m from a one Sebulindye Johnbosco.
“These cases are not only against VIPs. We get so many complaints of people being duped, and hackers gaining access to computers and bank accounts”.
Enanga cautioned the public to be wary of these fraudulent schemes so as not to fall prey.
“Public officials don’t ask money for facilitation using Facebook. We urge the public to avoid such scams and to avoid using contact information given by callers or even divulging their PIN numbers,” Enanga said.
He further urged people who use the internet to avoid opening strange links. Internet users are also advised to regularly review their privacy settings and passwords used on their social platforms since these are the loopholes that hackers exploit.