By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU
Even before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, e- crimes have been on the rise as more Nigerians embrace internet banking. As usual, every innovation and technology come with their obverse side, and it is this downside that criminals always exploit to commit their crimes.
According to Statistica, a financial tracking research team, there has been about 30 per cent rise in financial crime associated with e-banking in the last six months. Muda Amusa, chief research officer at Statistica told BusinessHallmark that “the ongoing pandemic has created an atmosphere of desperation for e-criminals because like so many other Nigerians they have been badly affected economically. This desperation has led them to a new sense of urgency to device new tricks to defraud people.”
It is because of this state of affairs that cybercriminals have been on the prowl trying to steal, even as banks intensify efforts to warn customers. Amusa urged the people to be vigilant, warning that there has never been a time we should all be more concerned about the security of our bank accounts than now.
.”There are too many scammers/internet fraudsters on the prowl, and they are constantly devising new sophisticated methods to steal your money, he said.
In April this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a fraud alert to the Nigerian public about the alarming rate of cybercrime activities in the country. According to the apex bank, cybercriminals resorted to taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud citizens, steal sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access into computers or mobile devices using different techniques. The way forward is to maintain constant vigilance.
In the weeks and months that followed CBN’s fraud alert, deposit money banks in the country have all intensified efforts at educating/encouraging their customers to become more careful and protective of their bank accounts. Numerous hands-on tips have also been emailed to these customers by the banks.
Central Bank has issued a series of warnings and tips on how bank depositors can protect their accounts from hackers and fraudsters.

Some tips
Never disclose your mobile app activation code to anyone over the phone, via SMS, email, or in person. Be warned!
Never reveal your card number, OTP, Pin, or password to anyone over the phone, via SMS, email, or in person. Do not do this, even when the person requesting such details claim to be from your bank’s headquarters!
Desist from clicking suspicious links or downloading attachments and apps from unknown sources!
Do not entertain unsolicited phone calls, SMS, or emails asking you personal details about yourself or asking for information about your accounts!
Again, do not fall for fraudsters’ phishing baits. They are smart and you should be ten times smarter than them!
Update your security software by installing the latest updates of your operating system and mobile banking app.
Avoid unsecured wifi!
Do not perform sensitive financial transactions using public wifi or networks you do not know the source. Do not let your love for free things expose you to risks! Instead, use a secure connection whenever you perform online transactions.
Remember, you worked hard for your money and the economic situation in the country at the moment is hard. It would, therefore, be a shame to have your money stolen just because you were careless for a moment. This is why you must do everything possible to protect your bank accounts.
BusinessHallmark learnt that most people that fall, a victim of cybercriminals, often help the criminals innocently when they inadvertently provide the criminals with sensitive information about themselves. Thus it is advised that when you are about to conduct e-banking watch your back and shoulder lest sensitive data about you may fall into wrong hands.
Recall that the CBN has issued a fraud alert about the activities of cyber-criminals who are taking advantage of the current coronavirus pandemic to defraud citizens. This alert warnings came via a press release that was signed by the CBN Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, and disseminated to the general public on April 6th, 2020.
In the statement, CBN said that cyber-criminals are taking advantage of COVID-19 pandemic to defraud citizens, steal sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access to computers or mobile devices using different techniques.
The apex bank admitted that the trend is not peculiar to Nigeria, as there has been a rise in COVID-19 related cyber-criminal activities all over the world. However, it is the priority of the apex bank to ensure that Nigerian bank customers are made aware of the current trend to prevent them from falling victims.

Cyber-criminal activities
Phishing campaigns: The cyber-criminals send out emails claiming to be from health organizations such as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) or the World Health Organizations (WHO). The email may contain a link which, if clicked, seals login credentials or other confidential information from the victim’s computer or mobile device.
Relief Packages: The cybercriminals also send messages via social media or emails asking people to click on links to register to get their COVID-19 relief packages from the government or other organizations.
They simply just 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.
Cyberfraud against Nigerian bank customers increased to N2bn in 2018 from just N1.4 billion. The criminals also ask unsuspecting customers to get the bank mobile apps, which they use to steal information from their victims’ mobile phones, among other things. They have also produced COVID-19 maps which steal information in the background.