Zambia's Ex-First Lady's Facebook Page Faked for Alleged Scholarship Scam

A person who created a fake Facebook account in the name of Zambia’s former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa recently appeared in court for fraud.

Mwanawasa, the wife of Zambia’s third president, the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, who ruled for seven years until his death in 2008, runs a non-government organisation called the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative (MMCI), which helps underprivileged people in society. The NGO was very active when her husband was in power and received support from a number of organisations and individuals. It has since scaled down its operations and it is only active in one or two areas, notably Kapiri Mposhi where it runs a school for underprivileged children.

Details about the case are scant, but Mwanawasa, a lawyer herself, appeared in court and tweeted her reasons for her attendence in response to questions from Twitter users:

Zambia's former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa. Image source: Maureen's Twitter account.

Zambia's former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa courtesy of her Twitter account.

The Zambian Watchdog reported a potential scam in January 2012, but it is not clear if it is related to the present court case. Quoting whistleblower Laston Nyirenda, the website reported:

I am friends [on Facebook] with the said person and they started sending me messages purporting to be Mrs Mwanawasa and started asking me to lend them $2000 and send it to the person named Florence Lucky who they said is based in Madrid, Spain and want me to send the money using western union. They even provided me a Zambian phone number I can call stating that it is for the former first lady if I want to confirm and when I called the number, the person who answered is based in [the city of] Kitwe and it is not even Mrs Mwanawasa.

After Mwanawasa made it known on Twitter that she was in court, one user asked the former first lady how it felt to be cross-examined:

She responded:

Mwanawasa’s tweets did not give a lot of details about the case such as the name of the culprit and where she is based.

The former first lady, however, is not the first high profile Zambian who has had her profile faked. Recently, a Facebook page in the name of the country’s Vice President Dr. Guy Scott, cropped up sending “friend requests” to people who usually comment on political issues on the social networking site.

When the Facebook page purported to belong to Dr. Scott emerged, citizen media website Zambian Eye reported about it, although there were questions on its authenticity:

The all (whole lot) of Guy Scott to be sending friendship requests to every Jim and Jack on Facebook. Doesn’t take you to be a genius to figure out this[these] are accounts operated by the PF fake generals [ruling Patriotic Front supporters who call themselves by that name] on Facebook that want to use it to collect data. Wake up people.

Dr Scott was latter quoted by the Zambia Intelligence News, saying:

I opened an account in 2011 for campaign purposes and I have not opened any account since then. I have not used it since then so everything else that is propping up now is fake. The whole thing is a fraud. It is basically fraudulent.

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