Africa remains especially vulnerable to banking fraud amid the proliferation of digital banking channels and fintechs in the continent.
According to PwC’s 2018 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey, five (5) of the top 10 countries most affected by fraud are from Africa. South Africa recorded the most cases of fraud, followed by Kenya, Uganda, Gambia and Tanzania.
Many bank account holders in the world’s second largest continent were targeted by fraudsters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the fraud cases took place via phishing attacks and bogus phone calls.
Africa recorded up to 2 million phishing attacks in Q2 2020, according to Kaspersky. South Africa unsurprisingly had the highest number of attacks.
Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda and Ethiopia were the other five (5) African countries to suffer the most phishing attacks.
In a recent report, Kaspersky revealed that the average damage caused by banking fraud amounts to $54 per incident in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region.
Financial scams have continued on an upward trajectory in Africa and many unsuspecting people have fallen victims due to an apparent lack of security awareness.
Africa’s “Scam” Problem
A recent Kaspersky survey showed that about 47% of account holders in the META region experienced banking fraud once or more during H1 2020. Majority of the fraud incidents occurred through phone calls made to unwary individuals.
In Africa’s most populous country – Nigeria, these calls are sometimes put through by fraudsters also known as “419”. Generally, swindlers target the less educated in society because they are usually more at risk.
Swindlers disguise as legitimate bank staff and trick people into divulging private information which would compromise the security of their accounts. During such calls, a fraudster tries to gain the trust of the individual by rightly mentioning their full names or stating some credit/debit card details.
These scammers may ask the user to transfer an amount of money to an insecure account or trick them into disclosing card details including Personal Identification Number (PIN), Card Verification Value (CVV) and Bank Verification Number (BVN).
At other times, scammers send shady links via SMS or emails to people to compromise their account security. More often than not, the end result is that these fraudsters gain backdoor access to the owners’ bank accounts and divert available funds.
Security Awareness Tips to Counter Banking Fraud
Bank account holders across Africa should pay greater attention to suspicious calls and texts they receive from people posing as bonafide bank employees. Users should end any calls supposedly from their bank workers if they are not certain of the veracity of claims made by such callers.
In fact, it is advisable for people to contact the bank themselves, whether in person or via electronic media to find out exactly whatever information they are in doubt of.
That said, account holders should never reveal their card PIN under any circumstances. Also, users are not to disclose card CVV, BVN or any other private account information to anyone who has not contacted them via the bank’s official communication channels.
Bank customers should ensure they do not click on dubious links received via their emails and text messages. Better still, mobile phone data and privacy can be protected by using cybersecurity software such as Kaspersky Security Cloud and Malwarebytes.
In summary, extreme levels of poverty and record unemployment rates in Africa have in no small measure contributed to the rise in banking frauds in the continent. While this does not in any way excuse the punishable crime of fraud, the onus is on account holders to adequately guard themselves against being defrauded.
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