Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has enjoined members of the public to be alert and take precautionary actions against criminal elements who might explore the emergency situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic to increase and diversify their criminal activities.
The police chief’s advice was informed by intelligence at the disposal of the Force which suggested that fraud and cybercrime are expected to rise at this time owing to the lockdown emplaced by government at all levels to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adamu, in a statement yesterday in Abuja by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, disclosed that intelligence obtained from the INTERPOL headquarters shows that scammers in Nigeria and other parts of the globe have begun to create and set up fraudulent websites, e-commerce platforms, fake social media accounts and emails claiming to sell and deliver COVID-19 medical products.
“In some cases, they use the names of prominent companies involved in the production and distribution of these items. Victims are then asked to pay via bank transfer.
“The IG therefore enjoins the public to strictly adhere to the following security tips: Avoid opening suspicious emails and clicking on links in unrecognised emails and attachments; ensure proper back-up of online and offline files regularly and securely; use strong passwords for securing your emails and social media handles; keep your software updated, including antivirus software; manage your social media settings and review your privacy and security settings,” the statement said.
The police boss also advised members of the public to be wary of scammers who use names of prominent companies to create fraudulent websites, e-commerce platforms, social media accounts and emails claiming to sell and deliver medical products.
“You are advised to ignore and report calls purportedly emanating from a caller who pretends to be a relative currently being treated at hospital asking you to pay for the cost of the medical treatment by transferring money or by paying cash to fake public health representatives;
“Do not open letters or emails related to the pandemic from unknown persons who claim to be health authorities. Often times criminals access sensitive information, steal personal information and steal funds of victims by tricking them into connecting to a specific webpage and logging-in with their credentials.
“Against the foregoing, the IG has placed the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB), Abuja – Nigeria on red alert. The NCB which houses the cybercrime unit of the Force shall in the coming days and beyond work closely with other Interpol member states across the globe particularly to carry out intense monitoring of the internet highway in the most legitimate and ethical manner.
This is to engender concerted efforts in cracking down on any individual or all forms of organised criminal gangs that may want to take advantage of the COVID-19pandemic to perpetrate crimes.
“The Force also enjoins commercial bank operators to strengthen their online banking security systems and report promptly any suspected case of fraud and other cybercrime related activities in their banks,” the statement added.