“E-fraud had escalated as digital adoption has increased,” Mazi Akpa Emeka, Chairman, Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), says, as he calls for organisations to collectively and simultaneously combat fraud and provide customers with a seamless digital experience.
Mazi Akpa was speaking at a forum themed Combating e-fraud on telecom platforms and building consumer confidence in the digital economy, on Thursday, June 22, 2023, organised by ICAF.
He stated that corporate entities are overwhelmed by the volume of fraud attempts and many have struggled to effectively enhance fraud controls without impairing the client experience.
Many organisations report that they are being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fraud attempts. In financial services, for example, many banks are so inundated by fraudsters that they cannot meet online origination targets; they are unable to verify identities and authenticate customers while combating fraud.
Mazi Akpa Emeka, Chairman, Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF)
He added that the 2023 2nd quarter open forum of the ICAF was organised to bring stakeholders together so the issues are addressed.
In his address, the Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Alkasim Abubakar quoted 2018 reports that Nigerians lost about ₦12.5 billion to financial crimes linked to the telecoms industry between 2014 and 2017 and “the peril of cybercrimes recorded a massive rise in the first six months of 2022.”
Alkasim says the NCC is committed to creating an enabling environment for the growth of the telecoms sector and has implemented several initiatives aimed at mitigating e-fraud risks.
Delivering the keynote address, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO), NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta says the “telecom sector plays a pivotal role in enabling digital transformation, providing the infrastructure and connectivity that fuel our interconnected world. However, with these advancements come new challenges, one of which is the rising tide of e-fraud and cybersecurity concerns.”
To combat this (e-fraud), Prof Danbatta says, the NCC collaborates with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to ensure the safety of their networks and conducts regular audits and assessments to verify compliance and encourage a culture of cybersecurity within the industry.
Pillar #6 of the NDEPS 2020-2030 will address the importance of cybersecurity and other standards, frameworks, and guidelines that encourage citizens to embrace a digital culture. Data privacy and the deployment of technologies like the public key infrastructure are addressed in this pillar.
Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO), NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta
Read also: Why Nigeria’s new Data Protection law may yet benefit its digital economy
Prof Danbatta says Law Enforcement Agencies, for instance, the cybercrime unit of the Nigerian Police Force, must also collaborate closely with telecom operators and regulatory bodies to investigate and prosecute e-fraud perpetrators.
This collaboration, he continues, includes working with international entities in combating cross-border e-fraud as cybercriminals often exploit jurisdictional limitations.
He also stated that the NCC-CSIRT periodically notifies telecom consumers of the latest cybersecurity threats so they stay alert, and the Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT) at the office of the National Security Adviser has been at the forefront of protecting telecom consumers from cyber threats.
Speaking on the theme, Managing Director/CEO of Future Software Resources Ltd., Nkemdilim Begho, says regulatory bodies must prioritise policies that address e-fraud effectively.
Begho adds that there have to be regulatory mechanisms that would continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of implemented e-fraud prevention policies.
She listed key strategies to boost consumer confidence:
- Enhance data protection and privacy
- Strengthen cybersecurity measures
- Foster industry standards and certifications
- Transparent communication
- Collaborate with government and regulatory bodies
- Educate and empower users
- Promptly address issues
On a panel, the NCC was asked to organise a fraud index so combating the issue is based on contemporary knowledge.
E-fraud in Nigeria
Nigeria is one of the most targeted countries for e-fraud in the world. According to the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF), Nigeria accounted for 17% of all reported e-fraud cases in 2021, and the average amount lost to e-fraud in Nigeria is $1,600. This is significantly higher than the global average of $600.
The most common type of e-fraud in Nigeria is phishing where fraudsters send emails or text messages that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or government agencies.
The emails or text messages will often contain a link that, when clicked, will take the victim to a fake website that looks like the real website. Once the victim enters their personal information on the fake website, the fraudsters can steal it.
Other common types of e-fraud in Nigeria include romance scams, investment scams, and lottery scams.
Romance scams involve fraudsters pretending to be someone they’re not, such as a wealthy foreigner, in order to gain the victim’s trust and then ask for money.
Investment scams involve fraudsters promising high returns on investments that don’t exist, while lottery scams involve fraudsters telling victims that they’ve won a lottery that they didn’t enter and then asking for money to claim the prize.