Going by the record of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), e-fraudsters have fleeced customers of self-initiated banking solutions, such as Mobile Apps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) of about N2.08 billion in the last one year.

CBN Director, Payment System Management, Sam Okojere, who broke the news at the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) general meeting in Lagos, said that customers of banks, Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), digital wallets and remittance players are prime targets for cyber criminals seeking quick monetisation of stolen credentials.

The apex bank’s data showed that Nigeria recorded over 38,000 fraud count with over N9 billion attempted fraud value within 12 months. An estimated N2.08 billion was lost in 2018, with mobile channel recording the highest volume and value, of 11, 492 in volume and N598.8 million in actual loss value. The loss value is 25.7 per cent higher than the 2017 figure.

Okojere said that the more products (cheques and over-the-counter services) are channeled through those mobile devices as against previously used channels, the more attractive they become to fraudsters.

He also disclosed that the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBBS) Fraud Report for last year showed that the mobile channel scored 28.21 per cent on the Fraud Interest Index.

The bank chief said: “This could be an early warning sign that fraudsters are shifting focus to mobile attacks and testing the waters in different types of mobile and online banking fraud in 2019.

“It is therefore important that we do not relent in our efforts at protecting this space and increasing public confidence in our electronic channels.

“The truth is that you do not need to go to a bank’s branch to carry out a transaction. Most people are carrying their cards in their phones. The money is not in the phone, but is a channel through which you can assess your bank account and the money in it.

“It is because the attentions of the cyber attackers have moved to the mobile platforms. They are one of us, so they know where the interest is going. One of the things we are doing is to create awareness for both the users and the operators, so that they can tighten the security around mobile device.”

Also speaking at the forum, Executive Director, IT and Operations at Access Bank Plc, Ade Bajomo, said no bank is totally free of cyber-attacks.

To him, there are two classes of banks in Nigeria, when it comes to cyber-attacks: those that have been hacked, and those that do not know they have been hacked.

Bajomo, said hacking is a serious concern for the payment industry, given that there are even companies selling hacking toolkits, encouraging people to go into hacking.

He said: “As we gather here today, there are people who do the same in the dark world. Banks need tone compliant with needed certification for them to be ahead of the e-fraudsters. The nature of sophistication of the e-fraudsters means no one is safe. Some of the mare wares are difficult to understand.

“Banks are where the money is and that’s why they are the primary target. And I can say that only two things can break a bank, the level of their bad loans and fraud.

“It does not matter, once one person is porous, the entire system is affected. We need to create more awareness of the need to protect our financial system.”

Continuing, Okojere, who is also the Chairman of NeFF, urged banks to unite in fighting electronic fraud through a collaboration that will make the ecosystem safer and more inclusive.

He explained that just like technology, electronic fraud has evolved over the years and fraudsters continue to innovate ways to beat the system and elude authorities around the world.

Noting that the Nigeria payment ecosystem has come a long way, particularly in developing techniques to prevent electronic fraud, Okojere said: “Given the importance of providing safe, secure and acceptable payments system, as well as engendering public confidence in electronic means of settlement for goods and services (payments), the role of a proactive management cannot be over-emphasised. It was on this backdrop, that the NeFF was created and has since been riding.

“The aim of NeFF has been to enable information exchange and knowledge sharing on fraud issues amongst key stakeholders with the objective of ensuring a collaborative and proactive approach towards mitigating fraud occurrences, limiting .loses and enhancing confidence.

“Additionally, NeFF has positioned itself to serve as the official body that represents the industry’s position on fraud related issues, while proffering solutions that restore public confidence in the payment ecosystem.