By Victor Akindele
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has warned telecommunications subscribers in the country to be wary of the latest wave of frauds through voice calls known as Vishing.
The NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, who gave this warning in a statement released today, said this is being perpetrated through voice calls to the victims. According to him, Vishing is fraudulent phone calls from people who may claim to be calling on behalf of a known and credible organisation, with the intention to gain access to the target’s personal social media account or other identity resources to perpetrate fraud.
The Commission warned that with the rising figure of internet subscriptions in the country, which stood at 146 million as of July this year, this form of fraud is bound to increase. “In the wake of increased internet usage and other electronic communications, the Commission also wishes to warn telecom consumers and the general public of the possibility of an upsurge in cybercrimes, including but not limited to Vishing (Voice Phishing) and Smishing (SMS Phishing)” NCC stated.
Explaining the modus operandi of the fraudsters, NCC said “these increasingly popular incidents typically start with a phone call from fraudsters requesting the call receiver to perform a certain task for the caller, which will enable the caller, usually part of a wider network of syndicates, to swiftly take over the social media account of an individual or group.
“Consequently, the Commission wishes to inform the general public that such calls and antics are initiated and carried out by unscrupulous persons, usually with the intent to defraud unsuspecting citizens and or commit other heinous crimes. The Commission has observed that most times, when a receiver of such calls acts as the caller directs, the Facebook or other social media accounts targeted by the caller would be taken over by such persons, who may then proceed as impostors, soliciting funds from and/or enticing friends of their victims into fraudulent business transactions in order to swindle them” the Commission explained.
The Commission urged telecom consumers to ensure that they put in place the necessary security measures to protect their online activities, as well as remain alert to the prowling fraudsters on various platforms on the Internet. “It is important that telecom consumers do not give out any information about their accounts or other online transaction details to unknown persons who pose as representatives of known organisations such as Pension Administrators, Bankers, Insurers, Mobile Money Service Providers, Telecom Services Providers, Social Media Accounts, Group Administrators, etc. Telecoms Consumers should also be less revealing about their personal lives and details on online platforms in order not to allow fraudulent persons to target them for scams,” it advised.
While noting that Vishing is a crime punishable under Section 32 of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act of 2015, the Commission said all numbers reported to have been used to perpetuate the crimes are being investigated, adding that appropriate actions would be taken in that regard as prescribed by relevant laws.
“To illustrate the insidious dimension of this development, a recording of an attempt by a person to extract information was made available to the Commission by a telecom consumer. The Commission considers it necessary to post the recording online to educate the general public about how fraudsters play tricks on people to defraud them. Kindly visit the Commission’s Twitter Handles (@ngcomcommission or @consumersncc) to listen to the tape and other updates in this regard,” NCC said.
The Commission also appealed to all telecom consumers to forward complaints on suspected fraudulent calls to the telecoms regulator through its email at email@example.com.