Harsh Jail Sentences for Chinese Nationals Committing Cybercrimes in Zambia

Harsh Jail Sentences for Chinese Nationals Committing Cybercrimes in Zambia 1
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Last Friday 7th June 2024 the Lusaka Magistrates Court handed down harsh jail terms to 22 Chinese nationals and a Cameroonian involved in a major cybercrime operation.

Using sophisticated equipment, these scammers targeted both Zambians and international users, causing widespread concern and financial losses.

The sentences ranged from 7 to 11 years in prison, along with fines amounting to a few thousand dollars. While these penalties are significant, they are relatively lenient compared to the USA, where similar crimes can result in up to 20 years behind bars and fines reaching $1 million.

Interestingly, the operation also involved several Zambian nationals working for Golden Top Support Services who were recruited as call center agents.

The Chinese pleaded guilty to charges of computer misrepresentation, identity theft, and illegally operating network service.

The arrest and sentencing follow the enactment of the Cybercrime Act in Zambia. “I can now confidently” said Ali Kingstone a well-known Zambia technology educator ”say the act is fully operational and its a warning” even to others involved in such schemes

I had a personal encounter (I think so) with this group when I received a call from them. The background noise of bustling calls and conversations was unmistakable. During our interaction, the Zambian agents were notably cocky, and when I tried to probe a bit further, they swiftly blocked my number. I promptly reported the spamming numbers to the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).

These cybercriminals possessed thousands of SIM cards, enabling them to quickly deactivate lines when they suspected government action. This sophisticated maneuvering made it challenging for authorities to track and shut down their operations swiftly.

Several Zambians fell victim to these scammers especially to do with mobile money. Mobile money fraudulent tricks involved ‘transfer error schemes where you receive a text message indicating that you have received some money‘ but then it is promptly followed by a call telling you to reverse money by sending it back.

The recent crackdown highlights the government’s commitment to tackling cybercrime and protecting citizens. However, it also underscores the need for continuous vigilance and stronger measures to deter such activities in the future.

For now, justice has been served, and it’s a warning to those who think they can exploit the digital landscape for illegal gains.

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