As troubling misinformation around COVID-19 and its vaccines hits Nigeria, the country also has to bother about cyber insecurity riding on the coattails of the pandemic.
In April 2020, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) warned the public about a spike in scam and phishing messages circulating on social media posing as help for COVID-19.
How it works
A message is circulated posing as one of the government interventions asking people to apply via a link.
The link is often customised by using a URL shortener or some characters changed. This ‘naijarealityview.com’ was customised to ‘https://bit.ly/fg-10500-weekly’ and this ‘npower.fmhds.gov.ng’ was replicated by changing the dots to dash ‘npower-fmhds-gov-ng’.
The link directs to a form on a website that would have some attributes of a government website like logo, name, and colour.
After filling the form, you are asked to share the link on WhatsApp at least 10 times or “until the bar is full”.
The websites have testimonial section designed to look like comments using Facebook, but the profiles are not clickable.
The websites don’t have a contact number, email or clickable social media accounts.
Who is, a query and response web tool that stores information regarding websites, shows all 13 sites reviewed were new, only registered between 2020 and 2021— after the coronavirus outbreak morphed into a pandemic.
Scam bunkers, a webtool that rates the legitimacy of websites noted that “most scam websites use domain names that are less than 6 months old”.
Defrauding people, getting clicks for advert or selling harvested information for broadcast emails and bulk SMS are some of the Motivation behind these scams, an IT expert with e86 Limited, Olugbenga Odeyemi, explained.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: Riding on WhatsApp, scam sites soar in wake of COVID-19