14 December 2018

Nigeria: Telcos, Banks in Denial As SIM Swap Fraudsters Empty Accounts

Telecommunications operators and commercial banks are denying involvement in SIM swap frauds as Nigerians continue to lose millions of naira to fraudsters who use mobile numbers and short codes to empty unsuspecting victims' bank accounts.

SIM-swap fraud, is a type of phishing fraud that poses a serious threat to customer and bank security.

The fraudster obtains an individual's banking details through phishing techniques or by purchasing these from organised crime networks.

Gbolahan Awonuga, executive secretary, Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), said that telcos should not be blamed for losing cash to fraudsters through SIM swap.

Awonuga, who spoke at the inauguration of the newly elected executives of Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), said that victims should blame their banks for whatever happened to the money kept in the custody of the banks.

But the banks on their parts have also washed their hands.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on the other hand said, investigation is ongoing to unravel those involved in the fraud.

Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, "We have received a lot of complaints on how fraudsters are using mobile numbers to remove money from their bank accounts,"? she said.

"Though the money is not in their custody, we are not exonerating the telecom operators until we conclude our investigations. We believe there may be a connivance of telecom staff in all these crimes. Why should a subscriber's line go off at the time fraud is about to be committed on their accounts?"

Onwuegbuchulam said to arrive at a holistic solution to the issue of frauds, the Commission has scheduled a meeting with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and all security agencies in the country.

But Bernard Okoye, an ICT expert has insisted that telcos are complicity.

Okoye also fingered insiders in banks arguing "this kind of fraud is only possible with the help of an insider in the network operator of the subscriber that is targeted"

He wondered why operators are hesitant to to block numbers being used by the fraudsters, even when such numbers are reported to them (the network operators).

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