The Nigerian Police says it has gotten wind of the plot by criminals to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians who may be shopping for medical products online in the face of the emergency created by the novel COVID-19.
A statement made available to RootstvNigeria by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba stated that the intelligence obtained from the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) Headquarters, shows “that scammers in Nigeria and other parts of the globe have begun to create and set up fraudulent websites, E-commerce platforms, fake social media accounts and emails claiming to sell and deliver (COVID-19) medical products.”
Mba, quoting the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu stated that members of the public must remain vigilant and take precautionary actions against the criminal elements.
“The IGP’s advice is informed by intelligence at the disposal of the Force which suggests that fraud and cyber-crime are expected to rise at this time owing to the lockdown placed by Government at all levels to contain the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. In some cases, they use the names of prominent companies involved in the production and distribution of these items. Victims are then asked to pay via bank transfer.”
The following security tips were given by the Police Chief for citizens to strictly adhere to;
- Avoid opening suspicious emails and clicking on links in unrecognized emails and attachments;
- Ensure proper back-up of online and offline files regularly and securely;
- Use strong passwords for securing your emails and social media handles;
- Keep your software updated, including antivirus software;
- Manage your social media settings and review your privacy and security settings;
- You are advised to be wary of scammers who use names of prominent companies to create fraudulent websites, e-commerce platforms, social media accounts and emails claiming to sell and deliver medical products
- You are advised to ignore and report calls purportedly emanating from a caller who pretends to be a relative currently being treated at the hospital asking you to pay for the cost of the medical treatment by transferring money or by paying cash to fake public health representatives;
- Do not open letters or emails related to the pandemic from unknown persons who claim to be health authorities. Often criminals access sensitive information steal personal information and steal funds of victims by tricking them into connecting to a specific web page and logging in with their credentials;
- Be mindful of fake news, deliberate misinformation/disinformation and avoid circulating un-trusted and unverified messages on your social media handles;
- Educate your family, especially your children, about how to stay safe online and offline;
- If you become a victim, ensure prompt report to the police.
Mba also said the IGP, has placed the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB), Abuja – Nigeria on red alert.
“The NCB which houses the cybercrime unit of the Force shall in the coming days and beyond work closely with other Interpol member states across the globe particularly to carry out intense monitoring of the internet highway most legitimately and ethically. This is to engender concerted efforts in cracking down on any individual or all forms of organized criminal gangs that may want to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to perpetrate crimes”
“The Force also enjoins commercial bank operators to strengthen their online banking security systems and report promptly any suspected case of fraud and other cybercrime-related activities in their banks.
“The IGP assures the public that the Force is unrelenting in clamping down on criminals who may want to take advantage of the situation to perpetrate criminal acts, just as he reaffirmed the determination of the Nigeria Police Force in providing support services to relevant agencies saddled with the task of curtailing and containing the COVID-19 pandemic.”