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Cybercrime expert urges vigilance amidst rising fraud cases | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Eric Kwaku Mensah

By Kizito CUDJOE

The Lead of Financial Crimes and Anti-Money Laundering at e-Crime Bureau, Eric Kwaku Mensah, has underscored the need for individuals and the general public to stay vigilant and informed about emerging fraud trends.

As technological advancements continue to reshape the cyber threat landscape, staying abreast of evolving fraud methodologies, he said, is paramount to safeguarding oneself against malicious activities online. The cybercrime expert noted that as fraudsters realise their methods have been detected, they always devise new schemes.

For instance, in its ‘Fraud Report’ last year, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) revealed that banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs) recorded 2,998 attempted fraud cases in 2022, compared to 2,347 cases in 2021, marking a 27.74 percent increase. This rise occurred despite renewed efforts to combat cybercrimes. “Total loss value recorded in 2022 stood at approximately GH¢56million as compared to approximately GH¢61million in 2021. This shows a 7.88 percent decrease from 2021,” it was stated.

Furthermore, it emerged that the major drivers (top five) fraud typologies that impacted most of the institutions in the sector included forgery and manipulation of documents, fraudulent withdrawals, cheque fraud, cyber/email and cash theft (cash suppression). “Forgery and manipulation of documents emerged as the prominent fraud typology. This type of fraud recorded the highest loss of GH¢33million,” the report said.

Amidst these developments, Mr. Mensah issued a cautionary reminder for individuals to stay well-informed. He advocated the need for vigilance, particularly advising those considering investment opportunities to exercise skepticism towards online products promising returns or dividends exceeding industry norms.

Mr. Mensah who spoke in an interview on the sidelines of ‘The Money Summit (TMS) 2024’, organized by the B&FT in Accra, urged the investing public to prioritise due diligence when making investment decisions.

He added that this includes verifying the physical offices or locations, accreditation, or licenses of such online businesses, as well as identifying the individuals behind them. Mr. Mensah noted that the absence of these details are some of the red flags that the public needs to note.

However, he lamented that the elements of greed and ignorance on the part of some people are the contributing factors that lead to their victimization by online fraudsters. To mitigate these occurrences from a regulatory standpoint, he called for regular reviews of policies governing the operations of financial and investment businesses, particularly within the fintech space, to align with current trends.

“On the law enforcement side, this is where collaboration is needed. So, that once a case of fraud and other cybercrimes are reported, the various agencies can effectively work together to apprehend the perpetrators,” he stated.

Meanwhile, he urged corporations to invest in risk management systems to proactively detect and significantly reduce, if not completely eliminate, cybercrimes targeting them.

Additionally, during a plenary discussion on the topic “digitalisation of money: re-thinking financial electronic transactions for economic growth,” Mr. Mensah elaborates on the importance of balancing technology use with awareness of fraud schemes and cyber threats associated with it. He identified mobile money fraud as one of the predominant fraudulent schemes in recent times, along with the emerging threat of ‘business email compromise.’

Richmond Kwame Frimpong, the Advisory Board Chair of Financial Literacy Africa, who also served as a discussant on the topic, expressed concern about the failure of Sub-Saharan African countries to harness technology to simplify financial services. Against this backdrop, he urged African governments to intentionally utilize fintech to both drive and regulate financial services, emphasizing that this approach would promote financial inclusion and literacy.

TMS 2024, an initiative of the B&FT, convened under the theme ‘Investing for the Future: Re-thinking Investment and Savings to Drive Economic Growth and Development.’ This year’s summit brought together influential figures from the financial sector to discuss and devise practical measures to tackle the issue of diminished investor confidence, aiming to reignite a culture of saving and investment.

The annual event took place amidst concerns about the country’s low savings habits, as Ghanaians historically allocate a larger portion of their income to spending rather than saving and investing. This low savings rate, only slightly higher than the sub-Saharan African average, impedes capital development and business expansion, falling significantly below global standards and lagging behind some regional counterparts.


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