By John Ikani
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday declared Lekki, an upper-middle-class area of Lagos State as an emerging hub of internet fraud in the country.
The declaration was contained in a statement issued by the spokesperson of the anti graft agency Wilson Uwujaren.
According to the statement, data from the investigation activities of the Lagos Command of the EFCC for the second quarter of 2021, that between April and June, 2021, the Advance Fee Fraud and Cyber Crime Sections of the Command recorded a total of 402 internet-related fraud arrests.
EFCC specifically identified Ajah, Badore, Victoria Garden City, Sangotedo and Oniru areas of Lekki as having many internet fraudsters in the state.
Who they are and what they do
“The data showed that many of the arrested fraudsters were aged between 25-34 years which speaks to the fact that most of the individuals arrested are either still in school, recent graduates or university drop outs.
“Analysis of the data from the Cyber Crime Section further shows that the dominant form of internet crime is Dating Scam/Online Dating Scam/Romance Scam. Sixty Four per cent of individuals arrested are involved in romance scam, followed closely by “Middle Man Scam” and “Picking” which account for 8 per cent and 7 per cent respectively of those arrested.
“The 64% involved in the dating scam benefitted to the tune of N8, 310,000; $349,290 USD; £ 900; €10 and Cryptocurrency 0.17513.
“Other typologies of fraud identified include forgery, possession of fraudulent documents, spamming, credit card fraud, impersonation, rental scam, loan fraud, Business Email Compromise, Hacking, stealing, cheque scam, phishing, and money laundering.
“The data also reveals gift cards, at 39%, as the prevalent method employed by the suspects to access their illicit funds. It is followed by bank transfers at 27% and Cryptocurrency at 21%.
“A total of $12, 512.49USD was recovered from the e-wallet accounts of four suspects within the period”.
What you should know
Like in many countries across the world, cyber-attacks increased in Nigeria during the pandemic because forced restrictions and a lockdown meant that people remained indoors.
Consequent job losses led to many young people whose livelihood were under threat entering cybercrime for financial security.
In response, the Central Bank of Nigeria called for increased public vigilance.
LSE Fellow Uche Igwe notes that while the Nigerian Cybercrime Prevention and Provision Act 2015 has been a useful deterrent, it has been largely inadequate in preventing the vulnerability of major institutions like banks.
Real-time coordination has been a challenge and made early detection and prevention difficult and insufficient.
Furthermore, some unscrupulous law enforcement agents still try to take advantage of the legislation to harass young people, connive with perpetrators to procure hasty plea bargains in order to benefit from the proceeds of their crime.