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Losses, worries as hackers defraud Nigerians with fake alerts

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Fake bank alerts scam is the most dangerous scheme yet and the banking industry has only a short time to get ahead of it.

If technology continues its current advance, this scam may wipe the gains the cashless policy, when most business owners may insist on cash only sales.

Fake bank alerts scam is not entirely new but it is growing in scope and leaving in its losses in its wake.

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Apart from Nigerians who lose hard earned money, Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country are also waxing worriedly from increasing reports of fraudsters using fake bank SMS notifications to dupe their (banks’) customers.

According to sources, while most bank customers sign up for SMS notifications as these help account holders track movement in their accounts, fraudsters pose as potential buyers of goods or services provided by the bank customer and after both parties have agreed on a price, send fake SMS’s indicating they have deposited money into the sellers’ account.

The criminals usually count on their target, believing the SMS is real and would not bother to confirm with his/her bank before releasing the goods.

Only recently, there was a story of Michael Thompson Williams a 28-year old medical doctor, who bought a Porsche Car worth N28 million with fake bank alert.

Also in Sapele, Delta state, a young man entered a shop and bought a Hisense 32″ LED TV with fake alert.

Cases of the fraud are replete and bankers said they are concerned about the development and were mulling measures to address it.

Also, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said they will soon introduce a scheme that will enable banks and telecommunications companies to ban owners of any bank account or the mobile phone line traced to fraud.

The CBN and NCC are reportedly working with the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), following the spate of electronic fraud involving Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) telephone lines and internet banking transfers.

But some experts claimed that the most significant risks to banks are self-serving or criminal acts carried out by some insiders.

According to them, when these insiders use their technical knowledge to alter or disable security controls, it can be even more difficult to detect abuse.

Beyond that Iyke Obiako, an engineer and a security expert said that banks must change the format of their SMS notifications in such a way that these alerts will contain security features that will be impossible for fraudsters to copy.

For accounts owners, the first security and guard against being scammed is to contact their account officers or someone in the bank to confirm the transaction.


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