Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has alerted the general public to new tactics cyber-criminals are taking advantage of to scam unsuspecting individuals using the the current “COVID-19” pandemic.

The fraudsters use this new tactic to defraud citizens, steal sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access to computers or mobile devices.

However, the CBN has noted that the trend is not peculiar to Nigeria as there has been a rise in COVID-19-related cybercriminal activities all over the world.

Some of the cyber-criminal activities using the COVID-19 pandemic are outlined below:

“Phishing campaigns: cyber-criminals send out emails claiming to be from health organizations such as the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). The email may contain a link which, if clicked, steals login credentials or other confidential information from the victim’s computer or mobile device.

“Relief Packages: Cyber-criminals have also been sending messages via social media or emails asking people to click on links to register in order to get their COVID-19 relief packages from the 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.

“Impersonation: 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 bank has also listed several ways that ensure that bank customers and citizens do not fall victim to these cyber-crimes. They include:

1. Beware of and verify 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.

2. Avoid clicking on links or attachments in emails that claim to have more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Avoid downloading mobile apps from untrusted sources.

4. Obtain relief package or other information from trusted news media.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has also promised to monitor and investigate these activities and provide updates as they occur.