When a Zimbabwean maid employed in Botswana fell victim to an online scam orchestrated by a fraudster based in Zambia, posing as a legitimate retailer, she promptly reported the incident to the Zambia Police. Regrettably, over three months have elapsed since the report was filed, with no discernible progress or arrests made in connection to the case.

Who will, if the police can’t?

Police spokesperson Ray Hamoonga explained that tackling scammers is a complex process due to privacy concerns as many of them operate under false names, making it difficult to track their whereabouts.

“Obtaining information from mobile subscribers requires legal procedures, such as obtaining a warrant through the court system. Mobile subscribers are hesitant to disclose details easily due to business considerations; openness might lead to a loss of client trust,” he explained.

Hamoonga advised online shoppers to exercise due diligence before engaging in transactions and assured that the police were making every effort to arrest the culprits.

Victim’s experience
Dzavakwa is a maid from Zimbabwe

Patricia Dzavakwa, a 48-year-old maid, and single mother of one working in Botswana, shared her unfortunate experience with MakanDay. She recounted being deceived after placing an order for goods amounting to $US121, only to never receive the items.

In December 2023, Dzavakwa discovered an online shopping store on Facebook. Upon clicking the link, she was directed to a store named Fashion World Clothing Centre, resembling the one in South Africa. The store presented a range of items, including shoes, clothes, handbags, among others, all priced in South African rand.

“As more people joined, the store owner opted to rebrand it as 'Fashion World Clothing,' she explained. “However, he later deleted the entire page, that is how all of us who had joined the group were deceived.”

Subsequently, the person veiled as a businessman representing Fashion World deactivated the company's Facebook page. Moreover, while the WhatsApp group initially created for customers remains active, members are unable to comment.


MakanDay’s investigation has revealed that the person responsible for creating this deceptive online store, identified by the shoppers as Brian, is interestingly linked to the name Christopher Lungu in the transaction details. Notably, it was Lungu who, shortly after Dzavakwa placed the order, collected the payment.

Upon closer scrutiny, it was discovered that the associated cell phone number,+260973683415, is registered under the name of Lungu, bearing the identity number 320121/64/1, and residing in Nakonde. According to Dzavakwa, the funds were transferred to this individual through Mukuru Mobile Money Transfer.

Dzavakwa mentioned that since the incident occurred in December of last year, she has been actively pursuing the recovery of her funds and seeking the arrest of the culprit.

Unfortunately, tangible results have yet to materialise, and the scammer persists in deceiving individuals through WhatsApp, advertising various items such as clothes, shoes, and handbags. Dzavakwa pointed out that commenting on the group is restricted, allowing the scammer to operate without hindrance.

"I made attempts to contact Zambian police officers, and a police officer from Mongu provided me with a contact for an officer in the Southern Province. Regrettably, the Southern Province officer has not proven helpful in addressing the matter," Dzavakwa expressed.

MakanDay also contacted the officer in Mongu, who chose to remain anonymous because he is not allowed to give interviews to journalists, to inquire about the progress of the investigations. The officer mentioned providing Dzavakwa with a number to reach the Southern Province officers, given their closer proximity to Zimbabwe.

The Mongu officer stated, “I provided Dzavakwa with a contact, but she has not called to update me on the discussions. I suggested that, being in the Western Province, it would be more convenient for the Southern Province officers in Livingstone, especially considering its proximity to Zimbabwe. They would be better equipped to handle the matter,” she explained.

MakanDay made additional efforts to reach the police officer in the Southern Province, who also preferred to remain anonymous. He acknowledged receiving Dzavakwa's report about the scam through WhatsApp.

However, he explained that he faced difficulties as his phone malfunctioned, resulting in the loss of all information Dzavakwa had sent via WhatsApp. Consequently, he conveyed his inability to pursue the matter due to technical issues with his phone, revealing a lack of competence, potential negligence, and a failure to provide assistance in specific instances among police officers.

Despite the officer instructing MakanDay to advise Dzavakwa to reach out to him, he has not responded to her messages.

“I did contact the officer as you suggested, but he has not opened any of my WhatsApp messages. Perhaps I should consider visiting Zambia to address this matter in person,” Dzavakwa said.

MakanDay attempted to secure an interview with the suspected scammer using the contacts Dzavakwa had provided, but all the phone numbers are unreachable.

Police Response

Hamoonga observed that the police will continue to receive such reports because people are not fulfilling their responsibilities.

Hamoonga, the official spokesperson for the Zambia Police, explained that the surge in online trading can be attributed to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of the epidemic, travel restrictions impeded people's mobility across different countries, providing opportunistic scammers with a chance to deceive individuals.

He emphasised that the police have consistently advised individuals involved in online trading to exercise caution. He underscored the significance of conducting thorough checks before entering into any business transactions to mitigate the risk of falling victim to scams.

“The notion of engaging in activities without due care and then seeking assistance from the police is not a solution,” he said. “We continually receive reports because individuals fail to fulfill their responsibility of conducting due diligence on online platforms before making orders. Both the police and citizens have a role to play in addressing this issue.”

Furthermore, Hamoonga emphasised the need for responsible behaviour on social media, stating, "being careless on social media, where you engage in activities and then expect the police to resolve the issues, does not help us”.

“We will continue to receive such reports because people are not fulfilling their responsibilities. We cannot dictate who you communicate with, as that would infringe on your privacy. Everyone has the right to privacy, and we should respect that as their entitlement."

Internet Crime Landscape: FBI Insights

Based on the 2022 Internet Crime Report by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), internet scams continue to evolve, resulting in a staggering record of over US$10.2 billion in losses in 2022 alone.

The FBI warns that at this very moment, con artists globally are likely focusing on compromising computers or mobile devices in your vicinity. This overview highlights the prevalent internet scams and offers insights into safeguarding personal information and financial well-being.

Key insights from the FBI report:
  • Internet scams result in billions of dollars in losses.
  • Some of the most well-known scams, such as the Nigerian letter scam, continue to defraud thousands of people a year—despite widespread warnings.
  • If you think you've been scammed, change your passwords, delete any questionable software, and contact your local police department.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has provided scammers with new opportunities to defraud consumers.
  • Avoid scams by keeping your information safe, updating passwords, and arming yourself with virus protection.