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A MUST READ: CBN Alerts Nigerians, Reveals Latest COVID-19 Cyber Fraud

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…Outlines COVID-19 Cyber Fraud Schemes Used by Cyber Criminals

By James Ezema

Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has alerted Nigerian residents of cyber fraud, revealing that cyber-criminals are taking advantage of the current “COVID-19” pandemic to “defraud citizens, steal sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access to computers or mobile devices using
various techniques.”

The Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor in a statement  said “this trend is not peculiar to Nigeria as there has been a rise in COVID-19-related cyber criminal activities all over the world.”

Godwin Emefiele CBN Governor Cyber fraud
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele

According to the bank, its “priority is to ensure that Nigerian banking customers are aware of the ongoing trend to prevent them from falling victim to such cyber crimes.”

Some of the identified cyber criminal activities, using the COVID-19 pandemic, include “Phishing campaigns: cyber-criminals send out emails claiming to be from health organizations such as the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

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“The email may contain a link which, if clicked, steals login credentials or other confidential information from the victim’s computer or mobile device.”

Another scheme for cyber fraud as captured by the bank has to do with “Relief Packages” where the “cyber-criminals have also been sending messages via social media or emails asking people to click on links to register in order to get their COVID-19 relief packages from the Government or other organisations.

“They simply use this to get confidential information from unwary victims. Relief package scams also come in the form of phone calls asking people to provide their banking details to receive relief packages”, the CBN revealed.

Samples of the their strategies include “Impersonation” where the “cyber-criminals place calls to individuals claiming to be staff of their banks and asking them to get mobile apps that would help them get through this pandemic period.

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“Such mobile apps are however used to steal information from the victims’ mobile phones among other things.

“Criminals have also produced COVID-19 maps, which steal information in the background”, the CBN warned.

The statement revealed further that to ensure that bank customers and citizens do not fall victim to cyber fraud, bank customers and resident of Nigeria were strongly advised to observe certain precautions.

Bank customers are to “beware of and verify emails or phone calls claiming to be from NCDC, WHO or government, especially when such emails request your banking information or to click on a link.

Citizens were therefore advised to visit on the official websites of relevant organisations for any desired information and to “avoid clicking on links or attachments in emails that claim to have more information
regarding the COVID-19 pandemic”.

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Other precautionary measures include avoiding “downloading mobile apps from untrusted sources; and
obtain relief package or other information from trusted news media.”

The apex bank stated that while it works to keep safe physically and prevent further spread of the virus, “members of the public should endeavor to apply caution in order to beat not just the COVID-19 Virus but also the cyber-criminals seeking to take advantage of its spread for nefarious acts.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria then pledged to continue “to monitor and investigate these activities and
provide updates as they occur.”

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