Strengthening the Fight Against Internet Fraud in Nigeria

The recent indictment of seventy seven Nigerians by United States authorities for participating in money laundering network as uncovered by the FBI brought to the fore again the nasty scar on the face of the country.

The seventy seven Nigerians had engaged in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through variety of fraud schemes and to launder the funds through a los Angeles-based money laundering network.

This came on the heels of the arrest of the Forbes-rated young Nigerian billionaire, Invictus Okeke, by the FBI over a similar offence.

Internet fraud activities have continued to dominate discussion, which is causing a lot of apprehension among experts worldwide.

According to cyber security ventures, the global community will lose more than six trillion dollars annually by 2021 to cyber criminals, if nothing is done to halt the trend.

In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed tremendous growth of technology, spanning all governmental and human activities and gradually migrating from analogue to digital, adopting e-governance, e-commerce, e-banking and other forms of online activities within the space.

There is no doubt that with these developments, Nigerians are becoming exposed to vulnerabilities of cyber-attacks.

 Activities of hackers and cyber criminals have posed serious threats to governments, organizations, key industries, and critical national infrastructure as well as individuals.

In a recent report credited to the former Minister of Communication, Mr.Adebayo Shittu, Nigeria lost one hundred and twenty seven billion naira to cybercrime through software piracy, intellectual property theft and malware attacks between 2013 and 2014.

Also, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, United Kingdom, estimated that the annual cost of cybercrime to Nigeria stands at zero point zero eight per cent of Nigeria’s GDP.

It is very glaring that criminals and fraudsters leverage the anonymity provided by the internet to defraud unsuspecting victims.

Notably, cybercrimes are of different categories. They range from yahoo boys and their 419 internet frauds; hacking; software piracy; pornography; credit card or atm fraud; denial of service attack; virus dissemination; phishing; cyber plagiarism; cyber stalking to cyber defamation.

Through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (efcc), the Federal Government has been doing its best to deal with internet fraud.

Nearly on weekly basis, operatives of EFCC arrest suspected internet fraudsters popularly known as yahoo boys in all states of the federation.

To deal with internet fraud, there is need for a long-term approach to reducing poverty rate in the country. If more Nigerians are above the poverty level, the country might witness a drop in criminal activities including internet fraud.

Another problem that has helped the growth of internet fraud is unemployment, hence the need to produce enough jobs to accommodate millions of graduates seeking employment.

Moreover, there is need for a national reorientation of values and a sustainable approach should be developed to reduce the level of crime in the country.

It is imperative for the country needs to put back honesty and hard work on the pedestal and do away with the mindset of excessive materialism and get rich quick syndrome.

Most importantly, there should be increased cyber security awareness and public education to prevent citizens from being swindled.

Nafiu Busari

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