By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Adeleke Ademolu has lamented the rising trend of electronic fraud across key sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He said the menace which follows the wide acceptance of new methods of electronic banking such as Debit Cards, Mobile Money and e-payment systems has been discovered to cost the country whopping sums of money.
Mr. Ademolu made this known to newsmen while delivering his speech at the 4th Quarter Industry Consumer Advocacy Forum-(ICAF) Open Forum in Abuja on Tuesday, 10th of December, 2019 with the theme: “Financial Fraud Using the Telecom Platform – What Consumers Needs to Know”.
The Executive Commissioner was of the opinion that the telecommunications sector is not immune from the Scourge of cyber fraudsters across the country as attackers are now targeting Telecom networks with the intent to disrupt service delivery and infiltrate their data banks.
According to him, the use of modern technologies is taking its toll on the Nigerian telecoms industry, as some subscribers have reportedly lost huge sums of money to telecom related financial crimes since the emergent use of Smartphone technology in the country.
He said “It is my utmost pleasure to welcome you all to the 4th quarter 2019 Industry Consumer Advisory Forum meeting, opened to critical stakeholders responsible for combating financial fraud committed through telecommunications platforms.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rates e-fraud as the biggest risk in the financial sector which has widely incorporate ted electronic payment solutions such as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Nigeria inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBBS) Instant Payments and Mobile Banking.
“Illegal SIM Swaps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) e-payment frauds, are currently some of the most serious cyber threats in the telecom industry. Fraudsters conduct illegal SIM swaps of targeted individuals and then, conduct USSD-based transactions which cost the unlucky victims huge losses” He stressed.
He disclosed that in fulfillment of one of its fundamental statutory responsibilities, that is, protecting the interests of consumers, the Commission has been working closely with other stakeholders to implement technical and operational solutions to financial fraud using telecom platforms.
He said a Multi-Sectoral Committee to develop the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will harmonize the activities of critical stakeholders responsible for combating financial fraud committed through telecommunications platforms was inaugurated on the 20th of November, 2019.
In her welcome address, the Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau, Nigerian Communications Commission-NCC, Mrs. Felicia Onwuegbuchulam said that it is no longer news that e-fraud and data depletion are major consumer concern commanding attention in the telecoms sector and national discourse.
She stressed that the negative implications of e-frauds are not only huge in financial losses but also high in reputational damage to telecoms operators, financial institutions, the regulators, security Agencies and the nation at large.
Mrs. Felicia opined that since the consumer is one of the major stakeholders in the telecoms industry, it is the desire of the Commission to ensure that they enjoy primary focus through adequate education, information sharing and the provision of selection of channels for redress and to safe guard Telecom consumers.
“The Consumer is one of the major stakeholders in the telecoms industry. It is our desire as a Commission to ensure that they enjoy primary focus. We believe that through adequate education, information sharing and the provision of an array of channels for redress, we can safeguard telecom consumers, and innovatively promote the prospect for greater consumer’s experience.
“The NCC identifies financial fraud as a major concern to telecom consumers through its feedback mechanism. In its determination to seek initiatives aimed at creating greater awareness on the issues as well as ways of mitigating problems arising from its occurrence, a stakeholder’s forum on financial fraud using telecoms platform was held on the 29th January, 2019.
“The two papers to be presenting at today’s event “Detecting Telecommunications Fraud by Understanding the Contents of Call, Text or Email” and “Data Depletion – Causes and Recommendation” would hopefully outline the efforts currently ongoing in promoting cyber security and use of date education.
“We trust that partaken at this forum will further enriched participants’ appreciation of the enormity of these critical consumer challenges at our hands, equip everyone to perform better in our advocacy roles in the interest and benefit of our respective members, promote the PIE mandate (Protect, Inform, Educate) to empower telecom consumers to safeguard themselves from falling preys to cyber fraudsters” She laments.
In his remark, the Chairman of ICAF who is also the President, Nigeria Computer Society-NCS, Prince Igho Majemite said the avalanche of technologies with introduction of smart phones and computers, create a near unlimited possibilities to hackers.
Hr said the hackers prey on the gullibility and vulnerability of Information Technology (IT) users, thus compromising the ease of doing business through the telecoms platform.
“This topic cannot be more relevant than now when the telecoms platform is agog with so many untoward practices. We are however gifted with the presence of a core IT professional who saw it all while he was DG National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and now in the driver’s seat as the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy- Dr. Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
“It is our hope that the minister will rise plausibly to move the ministry to the next level through mitigating challenges of the industry and the consumers by enabling instrumentality that involve stake holders through NCC.
“It is my utmost believe that at the end of this forum, participants will be better informed on the issues of financial fraud, the fraudsters, their signatures and how to avoid or mitigate the scourge” he said.
During the paper presentations, the presenters cautioned telecoms users to be wary of the type of apps they download on their phones, opening any link without being doubly sure of the site.
They also called on banks and telecom operators to operate what he called behavioural pattern on their customers for easy detection of fraud while other speakers called for the harmonization of data in Nigeria for prevention, detection and easy access to fraudsters.