Internet Fraud is an online crime in which components of the internet such as email, website, messenger, and chat are used to conduct fraudulent transactions, depriving unsuspecting individuals of money or property.
In Nigeria, Internet fraud is evident in the form yahoo yahoo, and the upgraded yahoo plus (The introduction of enchantments). These two forms of internet fraud have been so popularised that perpetrators are referred to as yahoo boys.
Any youth constantly seen with a laptop can easily be called a yahoo boy. This is because, the youths are more easily lured into these ICT means as they were born at a time in the digital age. They usually possess the skill and technical know-how as to the way the internet works.
Thus, it is not surprising to see law enforcement agencies apprehending youths on the suspicion of Internet fraud.
How Internet Fraud Works in Nigeria
From the stories of defrauded victims, we can draw a pattern as to how Internet fraud is perpetrated in Nigeria.
To begin with, identity concealment is usually the first line of action for the potential fraudster. He picks an identity (picture) he thinks is visually appealing, chooses a name to go along with it, creates social media handles, and other links that point to the identity.
Afterwards, the fraudster utilises chat software or messengers (from which yahoo messenger was popularly used) to attract clients into a relationship, with the aim of securing their trust or loyalty.
The unsuspecting victim, being enthralled would send to the fraudster via channels. Then the fraudster would cut off the victim permanently, without any trace.
To avoid being a victim, caution should taken on friendships, especially when a friend request or chat request is received.
A video call should expose the real identity of the perpetrator.
Fraudsters have also found means to hack the bank accounts of gullible Nigerians. They can empty any account within seconds, forge any document via internet, as well as generate receipts and billings through software.
Even with the current situation the world is facing, hackers and internet fraudsters are becoming desperate and are looking for any conceivable means of defrauding gullible Nigerians.
An account can be hacked via the following ways:
- Online: emails, online banking details, and social media profiles can be hacked provided the password is easy to guess, and used for all accounts. Some Nigerians are clueless as to how passwords work, and they can easily pick a password that matches with their name, date of birth, or any other publicly accessible personal information. A hacker may then visit the login page, try sequences of combinations, until the account opens. If this does not work, and the hacker has access to the person’s email, a password reset can be requested, and the password changed, locking the owner out. But, if the owner connects the email account to an active phone number. The hacker won’t be able to change the email password, without accessing the phone. This way, the owner can simply login (with the unchanged password) and change the password, so that the hacker is eventually out for good.
- SMS: SMSs in which hackers send a text to unblock an ATM Card, due to BVN upgrade are becoming rampant. They would construct a text saying that the victim’s ATM card has been blocked, and to unblock it, they should call a certain number. These scammers claim most of the time to be agents of the victim’s bank. If the number is dialed, the fraudster would request for sensitive information (which gullible Nigerians will give) such as BVN, card or personal account information. This form of account hacking is usually left untraceable. Although, if being watchful, certain steps can be taken to apprehend the criminal(s) to curtail Internet fraud in Nigeria.
Tips to Safeguard Your Account in Nigeria
Beware of Cyber cafe
In Nigeria, Cyber cafe can be a hub for hackers. They might be lurking around, looking for ways to steal your account.
If by chance, you happen to be in a cyber cafe, be very careful on how you login to your accounts, as well as the number of tabs you open. Moreover, do not leave your account logged in to go outside.
Take for instance, you login to 10 accounts, and you are working on say 2. there might be a chance for you to forget logging out of the 8 accounts. Being engaged in just the 2 accounts, you may forget you also logged in to 8 other accounts.
Don’t Save password
When you click the login button, the browser prompts you to save password (Google chrome) or remember password (Firefox). In any case, if the computer or smartphone isn’t yours, choose Never (Google chrome) or Don’t save (Firefox).
If you happen to choose save and you log out, anyone can login back to your account by just visiting the login page. The browser would auto fill your username/email and password.
So, unless the computer is yours, and you are assured of whoever accesses it, don’t allow the browser to save or remember your password.
Use a Secured Password
An easy-to-guess password makes your account vulnerable and puts your account at risk of being hacked.
Your password should have a minimum length of 10 characters, including lowercase and uppercase alphabetic characters, numbers and symbols, if permitted.
You can also generate passwords randomly if the browser or website supports it. When you randomly generate password, you might not be able to memorise it.
Avoid using similar passwords
Using the same password for all your accounts means that if an account is hacked, it applies to the others.
Safeguard your accounts by using different passwords.
Connect your accounts to Phone
You can add your phone number as recovery method for your accounts. Thus, if anyone tries to reset your password or perform a major change to your account, they will be asked to enter the code sent as SMS to your phone number.
Although, this would entail you to keep your phone safe.