Zambia Reveals Discovery of ‘Sophisticated’ Chinese Cybercrime Syndicate

Zambia Reveals Discovery of 'Sophisticated' Chinese Cybercrime
BBC

Zambia Reveals Discovery of ‘Sophisticated’ Chinese Cybercrime Syndicate

A significant internet fraud operation has been exposed in Zambia, leading to the arrest of 77 individuals, including 22 Chinese nationals. Described as a “sophisticated internet fraud syndicate,” the operation was uncovered during a multi-agency raid on a Chinese-run company, marking a major milestone in the fight against cybercrime, according to authorities.

The targeted company, Golden Top Support Services, located in the upscale suburb of Roma in the capital city, Lusaka, allegedly recruited Zambians under false pretenses, hiring them as call-center agents. These individuals, primarily aged between 20 and 25, were unwittingly engaged in deceptive conversations with mobile users across various platforms, including WhatsApp, Telegram, and chatrooms, using scripted dialogues.

The raid, led by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) in collaboration with the police, immigration department, and anti-terrorism unit, followed months of intelligence gathering prompted by a surge in internet fraud cases in Zambia. Among the seized equipment were devices capable of masking callers’ locations and over 13,000 Sim cards, both domestic and international, highlighting the extensive reach of the operation.

Notably, the operation uncovered 11 Sim boxes, sophisticated devices used to reroute calls outside legitimate phone networks, facilitating fraudulent activities such as internet fraud and online scams. Director General of DEC, Nason Banda, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that Zambians were losing money from their bank accounts through money-laundering schemes, with evidence suggesting that the illicit operations extended beyond Zambia’s borders.

The investigation revealed that individuals in various countries, including Singapore, Peru, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and other African nations, had fallen victim to the fraudulent activities orchestrated by the syndicate. In addition to the confiscated equipment, two firearms, 78 rounds of ammunition, and vehicles belonging to a Chinese national associated with the business were impounded.

While Zambian nationals have been charged and released on bail to assist with ongoing investigations, the foreign nationals, comprising 22 Chinese men and a Cameroonian, remain in custody. The crackdown on this internet fraud syndicate underscores the government’s commitment to combating cybercrime and protecting citizens from financial exploitation.

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