Rogue lawyers connive with bogus estate agents
Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
SOME rogue lawyers in Bulawayo are reportedly conniving with bogus estate agents to defraud homeseekers as demand for housing surges.
Police in Bulawayo recorded 32 fraud cases involving the sale of houses and housing stands between January and July.
The police said the city is also recording a high number of cyber crimes as members of the public adopt internet-based business transactions during the same period.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said since the beginning of the year 80 cases of cyber-related crimes have been recorded in the city.
“During the period extending from January 2022 to 25 July, the station received a total of 80 cyber-related crimes of which 12 were detected.
During the same period 32 fraud cases related to land and our houses were dealt with and 25 were detected,” said Insp Ncube.
He said the demand for housing has prompted the increase in homeseekers being defrauded.
Insp Ncube said members of the public should verify information relating to properties that they intend to buy including visiting registrar of deeds offices.
“The scarcity of land for both residential and business stands has caused the increase in the number of cases. Criminals usually connive with bogus estate agent employees and some rogue lawyers.
They give their victims fake documents pertaining to the property they want to buy for example title deeds or council sessions.
The victims are made to sign agreement of sale and subsequent payment of purported purchase price,” said Insp Ncube.
He said members of the public should also engage the Law Society of Zimbabwe as some of the unscrupulous lawyers engaged in fraudulent activities would have been deregistered by the lawyers’ body.
Insp Ncube said card cloning, online banking and online procurement constitute some of the top cybercrimes being recorded in the city.
“Card cloning is on the rise. Liquidity challenges facing the economy and the weakness of the technology being used in the debit and credit card production are the main drivers.
This has seen some of the suspects conniving with cashiers at fastfoods outlets, service station and liquor outlets to steal cash from unsuspecting members of the public.
They use skimming devices which extract information contained on the magnetic strip of a debit or credit card and duplicate cards which will be used to transact, purchasing goods and services,” said Insp Ncube.
He said to prevent card cloning members of the public should ensure that debit cards are not taken out of sight when transacting and they regularly monitor the reconciliation of bank statements.
Insp Ncube said banks should also use secure technologies in producing bank cards.
“Online banking scams are caused by the adoption of technology and internet in the banking sector and the liquidity challenges facing the country.
The suspects use social engineering techniques to obtain victims’ bank information such as name, bank account and mobile number,” said Insp Ncube.
He said the suspects download the applications online to commit online banking crimes.
Insp Ncube said some of the victims are called by the fraudsters who would claim to be bank officials who are carrying out a system upgrade or service quality check.
He said as a result the victims reveal their passwords to the callers.
“The criminals would now use the password to authenticate the process and the criminal enterprise comes to fruition through effecting electronic transfer to bank accounts which would have been fraudulently registered,” he said.
Insp Ncube discouraged members of the public from releasing their confidential bank information to anyone regardless of who they claim to be as banks never ask such information through the phone or email.
He said they should also avoid sharing their banking details with anyone.