The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday alert the general public of the activities of cyber-criminals who take advantage of the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to defraud citizens.
The fraudsters, the CBN said in a statement by Isaac Okorafor, its director of Corporate Communications, steal sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access to computers or mobile devices using various techniques.
The trend is not peculiar to Nigeria, the statement said, lamenting the rise in COVID-19-related cybercriminal activities all over the world, adding that the apex bank’s priority is to ensure that “Nigerian banking customers are aware of the ongoing trend to prevent them from falling victim to such cybercrimes.”
The cyber-criminal activities using the COVID-19 pandemic, it added, include phishing campaigns, such as sending emails purportedly from health organizations such as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). Such “email may contain a link which, if clicked, steals login credentials, or other confidential information from the victim’s computer or mobile device.”
The emails could also be via social media or emails asking people to click on links to register in order to get their COVID-19 relief packages from government or other organisations.
“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.
Other examples impersonation, whereby “the cyber-criminals place calls to individuals claiming to be staff of their banks and asking them to get mobile apps that would help them get through this pandemic period.
“Such mobile apps are however used to steal information from the victims’ mobile phones among other things.
“Criminals have also produced COVID-19 maps, which steal information in the background,” the statement adding warning bank customers and citizens not to fall victim to such antics.
The apex banks urged the banking public to take such precautionary steps such as verifying “emails or phone calls claiming to be from NCDC, WHO or government, especially when such emails request your banking information or to click on a link. Visit official websites of relevant organizations for desired information.”
Bank customers were also enjoined to “avoid clicking on links or attachments in emails that claim to have more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic; (and not) downloading mobile apps from untrusted sources.
As part of precautionary steps to beat the COVID-19 Virus and also the cyber-criminals seeking to take advantage of its spread for nefarious acts, the CBN enjoined all to obtain relief package or other information from trusted news media.
While working to keep safe physically and prevent further spread of the virus, Okorafor assured that the apex bank will continue to monitor and investigate these activities and provide updates as they occur.