Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba says he is concerned that unscrupulous people have embarked on a scheme to defraud unsuspecting members of the public by purporting to be managing COVID-19 stimulus grants in the name of the Ministry of Finance.
In a press statement issued by Ministry of Finance spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta, Mr Yamba said both the economic/development grants and global entrepreneurship facility as purported by the scammers never existed.
He clarified that the ministry does not have any part referred to as secretariat grants department as the fraudsters wanted people to believe.
“Fake email addresses and illegal internet platforms are being used in the scheme. We are grateful for the vigilance shown by many Zambians in bringing the existence of this criminal scheme to our attention,” he said.
“This statement serves to reiterate our previously circulated advisory to members of the public that there are no economic/development grants resulting from an agreement between the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Zambia, neither is there an agreement with the called Global Entrepreneurship Facility (GEF). Both are make-believe scams and fake news. The so called Winnie Chilanga (whether a real person or a masquerader) whose name appears on the fake application form does not represent the Ministry of Finance in any capacity. In addition, there is no part of the Ministry which is referred to as secretariat grants department as she/he wants people to believe. Further, the male figure on official documents is dressed in copper-yellow not as it appears on the fake and scam oriented application form. The procedure for accessing funds from public institutions is clear and can be found on official Government platforms. The Government maintains an open door policy for its citizens and partners but does not in any way offer unsolicited grants as portrayed by the scammers.”
He said the ministry has involved relevant authorities to trace the fraudsters and bring them to book in order to protect citizens from loss of data and funds.
“To help trace the criminals that are circulating the fraudulent grant offers and to identify the source of the emails, we have written to and also hereby call on the Cybercrime Units of the Zambia Police Service, Drug Enforcement Commission, and ZICTA, to speed up the process of tracing the fraudsters and bringing them to book in order to protect our citizens from loss of data and funds. It may interest members of the public to learn that currently, there is an ongoing case in a Copperbelt based court involving a person who stole money from members of the public in a similar internet based scam. As a state witness, this Ministry is determined to ensure that the suspect in the ongoing case is penalized to the possible optimum extent,” Mr Yamba said.
He said in addition to existing official empowerment funds under various line Ministries currently, the only COVID-19 related official facilities for access by the business community and citizens is the K10 billion Medium Term Financing Facility from the Bank of Zambia and accessible through Commercial Banks, and the K8 billion COVID-19 bond (K470 million is for the youth empowerment scheme and K30 million for artists).
He advised citizens to be on high alert and protect themselves against the wicked money and data theft-schemes of fraudsters.