Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Can Nigeria fight Cyber fraudsters ?

Can Nigeria fight fraudsters that have taken over all ramifications of the country?
 In fact, it is not an over statement to say that criminals have taken over all spheres of living in Nigeria. Name it, the political system, industries, academics, sports, social and in the recent time, the social media. One may  be economical with the truth by grading any other country above Nigeria in terms core crime.

It is no more news worthy to talk about kidnapping, terrorism, armed robbery and other core crimes that have defied all social theories and efforts of the  law enforcement agencies in the Country. Rather, I want to discuss the new spate of crime in the Country which is posing a great challenge to the existence of the Country.  Cyber fraud is seen as a norm instead of crime in the Country. It is quite regrettable that a country where every nook and cranny is filled with either a church or a mosque is now overtaken by criminals. They have now carried their onslaught to the internet system.

Fraudsters from Nigeria have taken over the social media; facebook, twitter and others. They open several phoney accounts which they use to perpetuate the fraudulent activities. First, they will send an inbox message to an unsuspecting account, telling the owner that they had gone through the persons' profile and would want to be friend with the person. They will give an email address for the person to send a message to, and from there they will get the person's detail. They will use the details to hack into the persons account and defraud the innocent person.

Their antics are not limited to the above, they have many approaches to getting the victims details including the bank account and other economic transactions. One may not claim to know all about the antics of Nigerian Fraudsters  because they come up with new method everyday.

On Monday, February 17, 2014 these fraudsters hacked into my facebook account through my yahoo email and defrauded many of my facebook friends. At about 8am when I was still preparing to get to the office, I received a call from one of our ICT experts informing me that my facebook account had been compromised. I didn't take it serious until I arrived at the office and after attending to serious official duties, I wanted to browse into my facebook account, only to be informed by the administrators that my password was not recognized. I made effort to change the password, but they kept telling me that a code had been sent to an email address that I didn't know. While I was struggling to access my facebook account, I kept on receiving telephone calls from my friends asking me about the meeting. "What meeting" I was asking.

The fraudsters that hacked into my facebook account was telling my friends that I was attending a meeting and could not come out to buy an airtime. They requested airtime of N2000 from the people. Those who fall prey to these unscrupulous persons were mostly young friends and girls who felt they were doing favour to me. It took me up to 24 hours to regain my account and to my consternation, many damages had been done.

I was fuming and groaning in the office before one of our ICT staff came in to narrate his own ordeal in the hands of the fraudsters. He said that he got an inbox message requesting him to transfer the sum of  forty thousand naira into an account of one prominent person that he respects some much. He said that the request was so convincing that he had to transfer the money through a token. Having transferred the money, he called the prominent man to find out if he got the money, only to be told that he did not request anything from him.

The ICT man quickly alerted the bank about the fraud and requested that they stop the payment. Actually, the back did not effect the transfer. But my friend could not get back the money from the bank.

Good, I exclaimed, it would be easy for the fraudster to be apprehended. "Yes it will be easy only if the bank would be interested in fighting the crime" the ICT man replied. What they could have done was to alert the police or any other agency responsible for cyber crime, give them detail information about the transaction and follow it up. I know that before one opens an account, he must have included some useful information about himself which could be used in tracing him if eventually he is a criminal. But the bank up-till this moment never did anything to report the matter to the law enforcement agencies.

The law enforcement agencies in Nigeria seem not prepared to fight such crime. Even when you report to them, they will request for fuel into their vehicle or ask you to point at somebody that would be arrested. All they know about investigation is arrest a suspect and force him to make a statement.

What about the telecommunication companies, can they help in fighting the crime? Yes they can if they want to. Like what happened to me yesterday, the criminal did not eat the airtime that he got from people, he either sold them or used them on his phone. If the matter is reported to the police with those numbers, they would be able to trace the users and their locations. But the problem is that every goat and fowl can be used to register a Sim card.

These fraudsters are giving bad name to Nigeria and Nigerians at-large. This is the time we all have to think out how to arrest the situation before the situation will arrest us. Government, industries and other institutions should come together to fight the crime.