James Emejo in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed concern that cyber-criminals are taking undue advantage of the current COVID-19 pandemic to defraud Nigerians, steal sensitive information, or gain unauthorised access to computers or mobile devices using various techniques.
The apex bank noted that though the trend was not peculiar to the country, following an increase in COVID-19-related cyber-criminal activities globally.
It, therefore, stated that it becomes a priority for the bank to ensure that their customers are aware of the ongoing trend to prevent them from falling victim to such internet fraud.
In a statement issued yesterday, CBN Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said the Bank would continue to monitor and investigate developments and provide updates as they occur.
According to him, cyber-criminals have among other things, deployed phishing techniques by sending out emails claiming to be from health organisations, including the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) or the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said: “The email may contain a link which, if clicked, steals login credentials or other confidential information from the victim’s computer or mobile device.”
Okoroafor, added that the cyber-miscreants had also used relief packages as bait to lure unsuspecting members of the public into their traps by 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.
He said:”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 however, outlined some precautions which it believes ensure that bank customers and citizens do not fall victim to identified cyber-crimes.
Among other things, it urged Nigerians to beware of and verify emails or phone calls claiming to be from NCDC, WHO or the government, especially when such emails request banking information or to click on a link adding that persons should always visit official websites of relevant organisations for desired information.
The CBN further advised Nigerians to avoid clicking on links or attachments in emails that claim to have more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as well as avoid downloading mobile apps from untrusted sources and urged prospective beneficiaries to obtain relief packages or other information from trusted news media.
The apex bank added: ”While we work 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.”