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EFCC cautions Nigerians against fraudulent COVID-19 antics

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has cautioned Nigerians against emerging online fraudulent tactics being adopted by Internet fraudsters in the wake of donations arising from COVID-19.

In a statement issued by Acting Spokesperson of the Commission, Mr Tony Orilade, in Abuja on Monday, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, said that the caution had become imperative now that people are more vulnerable.

Magu explained that there is no online testing for COVID-19.

He added that such online link requesting for personal information to test for the coronavirus, or provide a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) method, was part of fraudulent methods aimed at defrauding Nigerians.

Magu said there had been increasing number of complaints received by the Commission from innocent Nigerians falling prey to the antics of Internet fraudsters who were taking advantage of the pandemic to defraud unsuspecting targets.

“In the last couple of days, home-bond  Internet users have complained of  receiving several e-mails, sms, Whatsapp messages offering free services.

“These services included ‘Do-It-Yourself’ COVID-19 tests;  subscription to either Netflix, hulu, DSTV, Government Intervention/Grant of N30,000; and other tricky offers.

“Some of the fraudulent schemes are coming in the form of links that offer free data or request for the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and account details of their victims.

“They often assure victims that they will be credited with money, as part of the federal government’s palliatives to cushion the effects of the Stay At Home order, ” he said.

According to Magu, many of the fraudulent online messages require recipients to click and fill out an online survey and forward same to ten (10) Whatsapp users.

He pointed out that the messages are embedded with malwares and other malicious codes, which when clicked, trigger a programme that steals and compromises mails, banking logins passwords, credit- related information and other critical data contained on the recipient’s devices.

“ Magu said the victim stand the risk of losing both confidential information and monies; since unauthorised access may have been granted to cybercriminals.

“Victims are also in danger of being infected with a ransomware which will automatically lock their electronics device,” he said.

Magu further advised the general public to immediately take some steps in protecting their data from theft.

The steps include not opening unsolicited e-mails and clicking only on those that are from known and trusted sources, while taking a closer look at URLs for spelling errors before clicking.

“In case of online financial transactions, you must cross-verify with the recipient before making the payment.

“Install and update Anti-virus on your devices.

“”Do not divulge to anyone via telephone, e-mail, any personal information such as Passwords, PIN numbers, ATM Cards numbers etc, ” he said

The EFCC boss also cautioned against   offers of bitcoin and any offer to advertise a business and get paid.

“Be wary of suspicious recommendations from friends on Facebook and Whatsapp claiming to offer investment opportunities they have benefited from,” he said.

Magu also advised members of the public to report any such fraudulent activity to the EFCC via its verified handle – @OfficialEFCC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or call the hotline: +234 8093322644. (NAN)

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