By Alois Vinga
A FAKE online scam luring small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and involving fake agents from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank (WB) has hit Zimbabwe with unsuspecting business people at the risk of parting with their hard-earned money.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Business Wednesday, World Bank Zimbabwe communications officer, Cheryl Khupe said the scammers have opened several websites and online platforms where they are encouraging SMEs to take up the purported loans on offer.
“We are not yet sure if these scammers are Zimbabweans or foreigners and currently nobody has come up to report details on falling prey to these activities,” she said.
One of the fake Facebook pages created impersonates Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube stating: “World Bank frustrated at low uptake of Covid-19 fund: The World Bank has complained of a low number of Zimbabwe businesses applying for the Covid-19 fund which was approved all the way in May. The fund was meant to cushion small businesses against shocks caused by the pandemic but most Zimbabweans have shied away from applying. Those willing to apply for the fund can do so through the IFC website,” reads the message in part.
However, in a joint statement issued earlier, the IFC and WBG revealed that in the past few weeks, they had been subjected to cybercrime attacks from unknown individuals and entities.
The perpetrators have created a series of fake websites, emails, loan application forms, and URLs impersonating IFC in Zimbabwe including https://www.ifcbusiness.org/, and https://www.ifcbusiness.org/sme-loans.
The online scam seeks to lure entrepreneurs and small businesses in Zimbabwe to apply for ‘IFC loans’ by downloading and filling in application forms available on this fake website: https://www.ifcbusiness.org/sme-loans.
“IFC has no involvement with these fake websites or the call for applications. We caution the public to be wary of these and other similar associations that falsely claim to be associated with IFC or other members of the World Bank Group,” the statement added.