E-mail Scams / Spam
A most nauseating phenomenon among cyber crimes is e-mail scam and spam. These schemes solicit and present false financial investment.
Nigeria’s image as a country has been seriously tarnished by the above specie of cyber crime such that there a type of e-mail scam code-named-named the “Nigerian” E-mail Scam.10 This email scams may come in any of the following ways.
i. The criminal sends email that the victim is the named beneficiary in the will of estranged relative and stands to benefit and inherit an estate worth millions.
ii. Online charity: Here the criminal sends emails to their victims soliciting funds and assistance to charitable organizations that do not exist.11
iii. Bait: Here con artists claim to be officials, businesspeople or the surviving spouses of former government officials in Nigeria or any other country whose money is somehow tied up for a limited time. They offer to transfer lots of money into your bank account if the victim will pay a “fee” or “taxes” to help them access the money.
The above is not meant to portray Nigerians as the only people that are engaged in this type of cyber crimes. Although electronic scam or spam emails are generally believed to be linked to Nigeria, the scam is now prevalent in many other African countries and the targets are usually gullible individuals who could be anywhere in the world. The shift these days has gone to text messages. Hence, with the increase in the use of cell phones, scam emails are now sent to mobile users to lure the victims into their nets. This writer within this month alone has received close to 5 scam text messages congratulating me for winning certain amount of money (usually in millions) and directing me to call a named person to claim my prizes. The scammers have developed different strategies all aimed at beating their victims.
There is no universal accepted definition of “cyber stalking” yet. It is generally considered as the use of internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications device to stalk or harass a person. Stalking is defined as repeated harassing or threatening behaviour. Cyber stalking is a form of harassment that makes use of modern technology like call phones, fax machines, and other devices to pursue their victims. Cyber stalking is now considered a crime in many places and as a crime its definition has varied from one locale or country to another. A single push of a button and a cyber-stalker is able to send repeated, threatening, or harassing messages at regular or random intervals, even if he is not physically present at the computer. Due to the anonymity of the internet, a perpetrator’s identity can be completely concealed. In addition, cyber stalking has led to offline incidents of violent crime. For example, a south Caroline woman in USA has been stalked for several years via e-mail by unknown person who threatened her life, threatened to kill her, threatened to rape her daughter, and posted her home address on e-mail making it openly available to anyone with access to Internet.12
Cyber hacking is a term used to describe cyber crimes such as illegal access, defacing, hijacking, bombing, denial of service attack, diddling super zapping, eavesdropping, etc.13 Some Internet users think that hacking is harmless fun and even quite clever, but it can be a serious invasion of privacy and a significant threat to e-commerce.
In 1990, hackers broke into and defaced several websites, including the U.S. Department of Justice, US Air Force, CIA, NASA and others. In 1991, when security breach occurred at the research facility of major United States automobile manufacturer, the company lost up to 500 million dollars worth of designs for future cars and suffered in the market place because its design fell into the hands of the competitors. A report by the general Department of Accounting Office finds Defence Department computers sustained 250,000 attacks by hackers in 1995.14
This occurs when an intruder removes valuable information from the computer system, the intruder prevents the legitimate user or owner from having access to that information.15
Such computer vandalism can result in a direct loss of or represent a substantial loss of expected revenue. The feature of this cyber crime according to Catherine H. Conley16 have to do with:
i. Knowledge of computer use or technology used to commit the offence.
ii. The rate of connectivity to the internet.
iii. Internal computer crimes like logic bombs, packet-sniffers, viruses, etc.
iv. Hardware and software theft,
v. Telecommunications crimes, etc.
This may also be described as intellectual property violations. Digital technology makes it very easy to perfectly copy creative products such as music or films and the internet provides a free and almost anonymous means of transmitting or exchanging these pirated materials around the world. According to research from Business Alliance (BSA) an international leading software and e-commerce developers, global software piracy is an 11.8 billion dollars problem that’s only get bigger.17
Cyber piracy has two different meanings in the cyber security community:18 The general definition of cyber piracy is any instance where the internet is used to copy a digital document without authorization. Some examples of cyber piracy in include: copying and distributing music or video without the copyright holder’s permission, or copying software onto a CD without paying for it.
ii. A more specific use of the term is in the phrase trademark cyber piracy” also known as cyber squatting. This is when somebody tries to make money by registering, selling or using internet domain names that belong to trademarks. An example is a teenager who registered the domain name www.apleimac.com only two months after Apple released its Imac Computer. Apple Corporation was able to sue this person on the basis of the Trademark Cyber Piracy Prevention Act.19
Section 1(1) of Copy Right Act20 provides that the following shall be eligible for copy right: -
a. Literary works;
b. Musical works;
c. Artistic works;
d. Cinematograph works;
e. Sound recording; and
The Act, however is silent on cyber piracy which is a recent development in copy right and trademark violation. This is happening when other countries have updated their respective laws to accommodate this trend.
Money laundering involves processing or dealing with the proceeds of criminal activities in order to conceal or disguise their origin. It has also been defined as the concealment of unlawfully acquired assets to make them appear to be lawfully acquired, and in dudes both the effort and process involved in the concealment.21
The Money Laundry Act, 2003 does not define the meaning of the term money laundering. However, section 14 which provides for the offence of money laundering gives us a clue as to the meaning. It provides thus.
(1) A person who (a) converts or transfers resources or property derived directly or indirectly from illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or any illegal act, with the aim of either concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the resources or property, or aiding any person involved in the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or any other crime or illegal act to evade the legal consequences of his action; or
(b) Collaborates in concealing or disguising the genuine nature, origin, location disposition, movement or ownership of the resources, property or rights thereto derived directly or indirectly from illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or any other crime or illegal act, commits an offence under this section.
The offence committed under the above section is known as money laundering. The definition of money laundering given by the Act is not exhaustive and makes provision for money laundering via the internet. Thus there exists a gap in the Act for a proper definition that would cover money laundering through the internet.
Automated Teller Machine ATM is an electronic cash dispensing machine which came to reduce the stress and trouble customers often encounter while trying to withdraw cash from their respective banks or even to check their accounts balance. This machine has grown beyond the traditional role mentioned above. Through ATM card, one can now pay for items purchase, even on-line.
ATM fraud is perpetrated through the ATM machine and e-transaction system. The current rise in ATM fraud has made the public to lose confidence in this technology that is meant to provide convenience and comfort while making cash withdrawal or while shopping. It also helps to reduce the risk of carrying cash around. It comes in different format and methods. At times, a hidden camera is installed in an ATM Machine with the hope of stealing the personal data of the users. In some cases, the criminal sets ups up their own ATMs machines hoping to steal the personal data of users and later use same to commit crime. At times the criminals steal the PIN of the users and also with their cards and use them to withdraw all the money in their accounts.
Millions of dollars are lost annually by consumers who have credit card and calling card numbers stolen from on-line databases. Security measures are improving and traditional methods of law enforcement seem to be sufficient for prosecuting the theft of such information in the USA, UK, France, Italy, Russua, China, Japan, Germany and other countries, but lacks effective enforcement in Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and other African countries. Bulletin boards and other online services are frequent target fro hackers who want to access large databases of credit and debit cards information.
Cases of ATM frauds have made some banks and their customers lose millions of Naira yearly in Nigeria. The CBN and various banks are always coming up with new policies and technology to beat the intelligence of these online thieves.
The use of the web for sexual abuse remains a very active research interest. Rese4archers have investigated the involvement of youths and children who are involved with online sexual activities. It has been found that internet pornography is a disturbing trends especially among the youths. The use of web filtering programme has been advocated check internet pornography in Nigeria.
In a related vein, the internet is used as an avenue for luring unsuspecting children to pedophiles, and for distributing child pornography. The internet has been the key communication medium for the sale and exchange of child pornography. In 1993 for instance, the largest pornography sting operation in history occurred resulting in the arrest of over 200 people in 21 countries.23
Another related trend is the use of mobile phones and internet for prostitution. Hence, prostitutes now advertise their trades via internet by exposing their sensitive, sensual and private parts to internet users. This will lure their victims to schedule a physical meeting where they carry out their trades.
The quest to get rich quick by most Nigerians is often exploited by online criminals who send all kinds of tempting message of an existing (though factitious) lottery bonanza where participants can all sorts of items and money-ranging from cars, houses, electronics, laptop, to name just a few. This form of cyber crime is rampant in Nigeria. Even the American and Canadian Visa Lotteries have been used to lure many Nigerians to their doom. A lot of youths are eager to travel abroad and these scammers are aware of this; and they respond by creating an online vis a lotteries to rip off unsuspecting youths.
E. lotteries are also done through the mobile phones these days. It is common to receive such text message asking you to answer some questions (in most cases these questions are often very easy to answer thereby making the victims to indicate more interest0 and win some amount of money. Most of these e-lotteries are done by persons or bodies with questionable character and whose identify cannot be verified.
Theft of Communication Services
This is fraudulently obtaining employee’s access code, or using the available software on the internet to gain access into organization’s telephone switch board. The possibility arises however that offenders may target victims in other countries at times when it is impossible for personal telephone verification checks to be undertaken. Funds could be for instance electronically debited from accounts at night when a company is closed and when transaction could not be immediately identified.
Other Incidences of Cyber Crimes
Each day new species of cyber crimes continue to emerge and every effort to beat these fraudsters translate into a more and cynical mode of operation. The ones listed above are just a tip of an iceberg and due to space constrains. However, the above listed crimes form the most common ones.
Apart from the ones mentioned earlier, there is also another common cyber crime which deserves a special discussion her due to the implication it has on the general public. The electronic banking fraud is a very big problem both to the economy of Nigeria and also to both the banks and their customers as well. Even though, we had mentioned ATM fraud earlier, it can still be further and fully discussed under this part due to the ignorance that the people have over this system.
Electronic banking frauds come under different categories and the most common among them is the fraud related to internet banking, mobile banking and ATM (Debit card and credit card) frauds.
The E-banking, both as a medium of delivery of banking services and as a tool for business development has gained wide acceptance internationally and is fast catching up in Nigeria with more and more banks entering the foray.24 The electronic banking provides facilities of accessing customers accounts from anywhere in the world by using a home computer with internet connection and through the mobile phones. Under this system, a customer of a bank can with draw, transfer and pay for services on live. In some arrangement the user can recharge his mobile phones and pay for DSTV, and other bills online.
This beautiful innovation has however, been hijacked by fraudsters. The advanced fee fraud or 419 which is one of the most popular internet frauds25 has usurped this opportunity with a dire consequence on the customers of the bank. This has indeed affected the enjoyment of e-banking. No doubt the problem of Debit card and credit card frauds is global in nature and its consequences on the bank patronage should be of concern to the stakeholders.
The growth of ATMs in Nigeria banks rose from 85% in 2006 to 2007 and by 2008, it has risen by 95%.26 The menace of electronic bank frauds related Debit and credit card has also arisen with this growth.
This ugly fraud has been blamed on in discriminate issue of this plastic money without regard to the customer’s literacy level. One of the frequent causes of e-banking fraud is when customers are careless with their cards PIN as well as their response to unsolicited e-mail and text messages to provide their card details.27
As a result of this ugly trend painted above, most of the users and beneficiaries of E-banking especially the ATM services are threatening a massive dumping of the cards if the unwholesome act is not checked. Some have vowed never to use ATM or electronic banking services again. This no doubt has negative implication on the economy.
Adeloye on his own has identified security as well as power outage as one of the challenges facing electronic banking in Nigeria.28
A report on Global ATM Frauds (2007) identified the following types of ATM Frauds.29
a) Shoulder surfing: This is a method in which the ATM fraudsters use a giraffe method to monitor the information the customers key in into the ATM machine unknown to the customers.
b) Lebanese Loop: This is a device used to commit and identify theft by exploiting ATM or point of sale (POS) machines. Its names comes from its regular use among Lebanese financial crime perpetrators, although it has now spread to various other international crime groups.
c) Using stolen cards: This is a situation n which the ATM card of a customer is stolen and presented by a fake holder.
d) Card Jamming: Once the ATM card is Jammed, fraudsters pretending as genuine sympathizer will suggest that the victim reenter his or her security code. When the card holder literately leaves in despair, the fraudsters retrieves the card and enters the code that he has doctored clandestinely.
e) Use of Fake cards: Fraudsters use data collected from tiny cameras and devices called “skimmers” that capture and record bank account information.
f) Duplicate ATMs: The fraudsters use software which records the pass words typed on those machines. Thereafter duplicate cards are manufactured and money is withdrawn with the stolen passwords. Sometimes, such frauds are insiders’ job with the collusion of the employees of the company using the ATM cards.
g) Card swapping: This is a card theft trick whereby a fraudster poses as a “good Samaritan” after forcing the ATM to malfunction and then uses a sleight of hand to substitute the customer’s card with an old bank card. As the customer is endlessly trying to push the card through, the fraudster offers assistance by pretending to help the customer push through the card.
The above types of E-banking frauds no doubt need the collaboration of both the customer and the bank on one hand and the state on the other to fight this ugly trend. The E-banking user should be careful with their account details and should not disclose it not even to bank employees. Periodic change of PIN member will also help to prevent this crime. And lastly, the E-banking users should not reply to spam and scam e-mails and text messages asking them to provide the details of their account.
11 Such scams contain emotional and touching messages aimed at appealing to the conscience of their victims
12 Victor F. Balogun & Olumide O. Obe, “E-crime in Nigeria: Trends, Tricks and Treatment”. www.openj.gate/search/search results/articles. Visited June 12, 2011.
14 Ibid. There was equally a recent telephone line hacking in England which sent wave of fears across London.
15 D. Carter, “Comptuer Crime Categories,” FBI law Enforcement Journal Vol. 64 No. 21 (1995) p. 271
16 C.H. Conley “Cyber Crime” NIJ Reports Vol. 6 No. 218 (1990) p. 3.
17 htt//www.bsa.org Visited June 12, 2011.
18 http://www.mysecuritycyberspace.com/encyclopedia/index/cyberpiracy.htm/ Visited June 14, 2011.
19 Ibid. It is doubtful whether the Nigerian Copyright AA\ct can be said to have made provisions with regard to cyber piracy.
20 Cap. 68 LFN 1990.
21 G. Goredema, “Measuring Money Laundering in Southern Africa” A Journal on Money Laundering, vol. 14 No. 5 2004) p. 71
22 Cap. M18 LFN, 2004
23 J. Sergeant “Police Raidon Global internet child Porm Club” Computer Pornography Vol. 1 Issue 1 (2006) p. 16.
24 Ovia, J. (2001) “Internet Banking: Practices and Potentials in Nigeria”: A seminar Paper presented at a Seminar Organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICN), Lagos Sheraton Hotels & Towers, Ikeja. September 05
25 Advanced Fee Frauds as a cyber crime has its origin in Nigeria.
26 Johnson O. Adeoti, “Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Frauds in Nigeria. www.krepublisher.com/Journals. (Visited June 18, 2011)
27 Ogunsemor A.O. (1992) “Banking Services: The Emergence and Impact of Electronic Banking. The Nigerian Banker January – March 1992.
28 Adeloye L.A. (2008), E-banking as New Frontiers for Bank. Sunday Punch Newspaper, Sept. 14, P. 25
29 Cited in Adeoti J.O., Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Frauds in Nigeria: The way out: www.krepublishers.com/journals. (Visited June 18, 2011).
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