The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is warning against a new trick used by fraudsters to con the public using short messaging system (SMS).

UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi says fraudsters impersonate subscribers with the intent of extorting money from the unsuspecting correspondents of the victims.

Mutabazi adds that the impersonators use automated online systems largely through the SMS messaging platform. The messages come from mobile numbers known to the unsuspecting victims, with the sender purporting to be in some kind of distress, and usually asking for money.

Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Patrick Onyango says initially the fraudsters would steal a phone and call or send messages to contacts in the phone claiming to be in distress and asking for financial bailout.

Onyango says that as they investigated the incidences and realized that the messages and calls were emanating from some ‘alien’ online platform and could not be traced on printouts from the mobile operators.  It’s not clear how the messages would be used when the registered owners still had possession of their lines.

Onyango says police is investigating the true extent of the fraud and how much money could have been lost in the phone fraud.

The Uganda Communications Commission is, therefore, advising the public to take extra caution and always confirm the originator of any money related messages to avoid falling prey to such acts.

The UCC says in its commitment to ensure the protection of consumers of communications services in Uganda, it is working relentlessly with other stakeholders in the industry to combat this latest vice.