South Africa: Airtime scam’ led to MTN arrests

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Six suspects, not 10 as earlier reported by Sapa, were arrested on Thursday morning at MTN’s head office near Roodepoort. The operator explains the six — two of whom were MTN contractors — are suspected to have sold new Sim cards fraudulently loaded with airtime.

The Sim cards were then sold to members of the public at “exorbitantly discounted amounts, thereby defrauding MTN”.

“Our fraud and forensic department detected this scam and immediately followed up on leads and clues,” says Lily Zondo, GM for business risk management at MTN SA. “After irrefutable evidence was collected, MTN handed over the matter to the authorities, who made the arrests this morning.”

MTN says consumers must be wary of “falling prey to offers that are ridiculously discounted. If it is too good to be true, it probably is”.

“Customers should note that the law deems customers who purchase illegally sourced goods to be in commission of a crime,” says MTN SA customer service executive Eddie Moyce.

MTN is still collating all the evidence to ascertain the revenue impact. The company says the R200m figure mentioned in the earlier Sapa story is “grossly misleading and inaccurate”.