The adage “the devil provides employment for idle hands” is proving horrifyingly accurate in Nigeria as a vast army of online scammers who are inspired by the fantastical exploits of Hushpuppi and a host of other characters are smashing into Nigeria’s Internet.
They are prevalent today and contain a sizable number of adolescents and young children among their massed ranks. Nevertheless, they are blatantly internet aware, ambitious, defined by poverty, and motivated by unemployment. Armed with internet-connected devices, they invade cyberspace where they prey on both domestic and foreign victims, keeping a stream of money coming their way. Their sophistication increases daily, with necessity serving as the fertile ground for creation.
Previously, they mostly targeted Nigerians with bank accounts. They were forced to upgrade once their misdeeds were uncovered, and now they find victims all over the world, further damaging Nigeria’s already damaged reputation. However, the criminal justice system exists to control crimes and criminals, despite its egregious shortcomings in Nigeria, to guarantee that this does not get out of hand.
Internet fraud so prospers. The majority of those who engage in it are young, tech-savvy, and looking for quick money. Many of them are young Nigerians who were present for some of the worst instances of commonwealth theft in Nigeria.
Thus, a large number of them have grown up witnessing and hearing firsthand the enormous sums of public money that have disappeared into private wallets in Nigeria. As a result, they are aware of a particularly Nigerian roadway to wealth. They, therefore, browse the internet on their internet-enabled laptops and phones in an effort to find “customers.” The damage is beyond calculation.
What is Internet Fraud?
Internet fraud refers to the use of online tools and programs with an internet connection to defraud or exploit victims. Internet fraud is the broad word for online or email-based cybercrime, such as identity theft, phishing, and other hacking-related crimes intended to defraud victims of their money.
Millions of dollars of fraud occur annually due to internet fraud that preys on people using online services. And the numbers are rising as internet usage rises and sophisticated cybercrime methods are developed.
Types of Internet Fraud
Internet fraud is carried out by cybercriminals using a range of attack routes and tactics. Malicious software, email and instant messaging services used to propagate malware, spoof websites used to steal user data, and sophisticated, extensive phishing scams are examples of this.
Internet fraud can be divided into numerous major categories of attacks, such as:
1. Phishing Scams
You get an email that appears to be from a well-known company that you trust, like your bank, university, or favourite retailer. The message sends you to a website, typically to verify personal data such as passwords and email addresses, where it steals your information and leaves your machine vulnerable to assault by scammers.
One of the most typical attacks on consumers is the phishing scam. Stories are regularly used in phishing emails and SMS messages to persuade recipients to click a link or open an attachment.
Never click the links in emails that you can’t independently verify. Your computer and personal information will be exposed to malware and viruses if you do this. Once more, despite the fact that the sender may appear legitimate—exactly what the con artist wants you to think—no respectable organization will request your password or other important personal information online. Typographical or grammatical errors are frequently found in phishing emails, and the sender’s email address frequently appears dubious.
2. Fake Shopping Websites and Formjacking
Numerous fraudulent websites advertise “excellent prices” on popular goods. These websites frequently feature URLs that are reminiscent of the brands they are emulating, such “Amaz0n.net.” The likelihood is that if you purchase something from one of these websites, you will receive a fake item in the mail—or nothing at all.
Another retail fraud is formjacking. When a trustworthy retailer’s website is hacked, customers are forcibly driven to a fake payment page, where the con artist takes their personal and credit card information. Make sure the URL on the payment page matches the website where you were shopping in order to avoid falling victim to this scam. Cybercriminals may very slightly alter the URL—possibly by adding or removing a single letter. Before entering your payment information, make sure to take a thorough look at the URL.
3. 419 Fraud—Advance Fee Scam
The 419 fraud, also known as the Nigerian letter scam, is one of the most widespread online scams. You’ve probably seen it in your own mailbox. The provision of the Nigerian criminal code that forbids fraud serves as the inspiration for the name of the advance fee program.
In 2019, more than 14,600 people reported being victims of advance fee frauds, according to the FBI. They lost $100.6 million in all, or around $6,800 each.
The con artist typically approaches you directly following the passing of a loved one while posing as a member of a wealthy Nigerian or other West African family. They want to move a sizable fortune into your bank account and out of the country for safekeeping. The thing is in exchange for a sizable portion of their cash reserve, you must make tiny fee payments. You should never provide your bank account information in response to such inquiries.
4. Lottery Scam
Congratulations! You’ve received a huge windfall from the lottery or another source! However, you have not. This fraudulent email appears out of the blue and stresses that you have won big and that all you need to do is send a processing fee or get in touch with someone who can handle your wins. It typically claims to be from an international sweepstakes.
Chances are you haven’t hit the jackpot unless you’ve played a real lottery. Instead of the shop contacting you when you win the lotto, it is the other way around.
It’s reasonable to believe that you are being scammed if anyone asks for your bank or personal information. Never divulge personal information to anyone who contacts you directly on the internet.
The opportunities are unlimited because the internet is such a versatile instrument. Nigeria has several regulations in place to combat cybercrime, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission never stops battling to stop online scam artists.
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