Cybercrooks on the prowl

Cybercrooks on the prowl

Many bank customers continue to lose cash to cyber crooks who seemed to have turned to mobile phones to perpetrate their nefarious trade, reports LUCAS AJANAKU.

Cybercrooks  are not resting on their oars as they keep devising ways to beat security measures put in place by business organisations and individuals.


A  house wife and mother of four had lost her bag which contained her mobile phone, automated teller machine (ATM) card, cash and other personal effects on a Friday night.

Apparently, she neither locked the screen of her phone nor her subscriber identity module (SIM) card.

When the crooks opened the phone, they scrolled through and discovered her husband’s number saved simply as My King.

The crooks promtly sent a text message to him asking for a reminder of the personal identification number (PIN).

Since there was no way the woman could immediately get to her husband to relay her experience, he innocently sent the PIN and even teased her for easily forgetting almost everything.

Before she could say Jerk or Jill, they had cleared her account.

Lenders have continued to step up enlightenment campaigns for their customers.

One of the lenders, in a note  entitled: Don’t use public WiFi for banking transactions, warned its customers of the dangers in doing so.

It said: “Even if you are careful to make sure no one sees your screen and you remember to log out  completely, fraudsters can find ways to record your activity. “Avoid carrying out financial transaction using public WiFi.”

Another lenders also advised: “Never disclose your mobile application code to anyone over the phone, via sms, email or in person

“Never reveal your card number, OTP, PIN or password to anyone online, over the phone, via sms, email or in person, even when they claim they are from the bank.

“Never click links or download attachments/software from unknown sources

“Never respond to unsolicited messages or phone calls that ask for your personal information or financial details.”

Subscriber base continues to grow in the country.

Active mobile voice subscribers have increased from 151,018,624 in August 2015,  to 190,806,067 as at the end of April 2020. Between August 2015 and February 2019, when teledensity was measured against the 140 population in Nigeria, teledensity increased from 107.87 to 124.05 per cent.

However, after rebasing the country’s teledensity to 91 per cent in February, last year in line with international best practice and economic reality, teledensity increased from 91 per cent to 99.96 per cent as of April 2020.

Internet subscribers increased from 90 million in 2015 to 138.7 million as of April 2020. Broadband penetration also increased from eight per cent in 2015 to 39.58 per cent in April 2020. This indicates that 75.6 million Nigerians are on broadband networks of 3G and 4G in the country.

With the above performance in the country,  a South African group,  Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA), has also warned mobile phone users to be vigilant against SMS scams and other malicious digital activities.

The group, through its  General Manager Ilonka Badenhorst, said: “With 90 million mobile connections and widespread availability of money transfer and digital banking facilities, South Africa is tremendously attractive to mobile fraudsters.

“People feel comfortable within their own homes and may not be as cautious online as we would ordinarily be within a corporate setting.”

The group has provided  SMS-related safety advice to mobile phone users who are looking to stay safe digitally during the lockdown period.

Like the two Nigerian lenders, WASPA advised users never to give out any personal information via SMS or email, regardless of the information the requesting company may already have about you.

It urged them to delete any suspicious SMSs or emails immediately, as opening spam SMSs or emails may load malware onto your phone, computer or electronic device. This malware can then track your personal information and passwords.

“If you receive a text message or email from an alleged known source, like your bank or a financial institution, but they are requesting personal or financial information, rather contact their customer support line. Obtain these details from their official website to verify the authenticity of the SMS or email and the associated request,” the group warned.

It also suggested other measures to be safe from online attackers.

“Ensure your anti-virus and anti-malware programmes are always up to date and run scans on your phone, computer or electronic devices daily.

“Keep your software updated and uninstall any apps you are no longer using.

“Only download apps from official app stores – don’t download apps from unverified third party sites.

“Information is power and never has this been more true than during humanity’s current battle against the coronavirus.

“As always, our best weapon online and in the changing bricks and mortar world is our own common sense,”the group warned.

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