How to Spot Fake Bank Alerts as Nigerians Face Growing Dangers of Cybercrimes

How to Spot Fake Bank Alerts as Nigerians Face Growing Dangers of Cybercrimes

  • Many Nigerians have fallen victim to fake bank credit alert schemes perpetrated by fraudulent individuals
  • According to reports, so many bank customers have lost millions of nairas to these ongoing fraud
  • In this article, Legit.ng has compiled a few valuable pointers on how to identify fraudulent money transfers

Legit.ng journalist Victor Enengedi has over a decade's experience covering Energy, MSMEs, Technology and the stock market.

The increasing incidence of deceptive bank alerts is currently unsettling operations within Nigeria's financial sector as more Nigerians become victims while the perpetrators profit daily.

This criminal activity entails the exploitation of Short Message Service (SMS) to impersonate legitimate transaction alerts from banks, deceiving unsuspecting individuals, particularly small-scale traders and Point of Sale (PoS) operators.

Detect a fake bank alert
Scammers utilize specialized mobile applications such as "Flash fund" or "Flash alert" apps, which they install on their smartphones. Photo credit - BCA, istockphotos
Source: UGC

These fraudulent schemes result in financial losses for the victims and present a considerable obstacle to digital transactions.

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Legit.ng had earlier reported that close to N1 billion was lost to fraud and forgeries through various payment channels and instruments of transactions in the first quarter of 2023.

To mitigate this threat, individuals and businesses must comprehend the strategies utilized by cybercriminals and implement effective preventive measures to safeguard themselves against counterfeit bank alerts.

How the scam works

In Nigeria, where digital literacy levels are below par, fraudulent bank alerts orchestrated by malicious apps are becoming increasingly prevalent.

According to Dubawa, these scams exploit weaknesses in banking systems, preying on unsuspecting victims.

Scammers utilize specialized mobile applications such as "Flash fund" or "Flash alert" apps, which they install on their smartphones.

These deceptive apps mimic authentic banking interfaces, allowing users to effortlessly fabricate fake bank alerts.

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By inputting false transaction details like the recipient's name, account number, transfer amount, and often concocted transaction reference numbers and dates, scammers can generate convincing messages resembling legitimate bank alerts.

These messages typically include the bank's logo, name, and other details, adding to their credibility.

Upon receiving such a fake alert, typically merchants selling goods or services, assume that payment has been verified and proceed with the transaction.

However, the funds are nonexistent, leaving the scammer free to abscond with the goods or services before the victim realizes they've been duped.

How to detect and thwart fake bank alerts

Staying ahead of the game requires a combination of vigilance and skepticism to safeguard against the growing threat of sophisticated scams.

Below are some valuable pointers on how to identify fraudulent money transfers.

Confirm the sender's details

A genuine bank alert will consistently display the bank's name and logo, alongside the sender's email address or phone number aligning with the official contact information of the bank.

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It's advisable to verify this information either through the bank's official website or by directly contacting the bank via phone.

Verify language and tone

Counterfeit bank alerts frequently contain spelling errors, grammatical inaccuracies, and adopt an informal tone.

Authentic bank alerts, on the other hand, typically maintain a professional and formal style.

Exercise caution with any alerts requesting sensitive information such as passwords or PIN numbers. It's important to note that legitimate banks never solicit such information through alerts.

Be cautious of suspicious links

Bogus bank alerts frequently include links that either install malware or redirect to counterfeit websites aimed at illicitly obtaining personal data.

Prior to clicking on any links, hover over them to inspect the URL and ensure it leads to a secure site. If you have doubts about the legitimacy of a link, refrain from clicking on it and instead reach out to the bank directly for verification.

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Search for discrepancies

Inconsistencies in content or formatting can often be telltale signs of fake bank alerts.

For instance, a genuine bank alert typically includes the account number and transaction details, whereas a fraudulent one may lack such information.

Verify your account balance

If you receive a money transfer alert but notice that your account balance does not accurately reflect the transfer, there is a high probability that it is fraudulent.

Confirm the transaction with the sender

Upon receiving a money transfer alert from a known sender, it is advisable to reach out to them via call or message to verify that the transfer was indeed initiated by them.

Verify with your bank

If you harbor any uncertainties regarding the legitimacy of a bank alert, the most prudent step is to reach out to the bank directly.

Financial institutions boast customer support teams that can aid you in authenticating the alert and furnish details regarding any recent transactions.

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Amid rising fraud cases, Nigerian banks have continued to send caution messages to customers to be vigilant and wisely guide their private information from fraudsters.

Speaking on the prevalence of these types of scams, Uche Mbakwe, a banker with Fidelity Bank, said that it is crucial to report to your bank when one encounters such.

He said:

"Even though the emphasis is placed on first verifying SMS alerts when dealing with clients or customers, one can not be too careful these days. But it is important to quickly alert your bank in the event of such an occurrence so that it can ensure your account is protected from further infiltration."

NCC warns against "Wangiri" missed call scam

In related news, Legit.ng reported that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued a cautionary alert to the public regarding the rampant "Wangiri" phone scams.

This development follows the Commission's earlier public notice that it had received complaints from over 20,000 Nigerians who have fallen victim to telecom fraud.

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"Wangiri", a term of Japanese origin signifying "one ring and drop," has become associated with a widespread fraudulent scheme targeting mobile phone users.

In this type of scam, perpetrators make brief calls to individuals, promptly disconnecting and expecting the recipient to initiate a return call.

Source: Legit.ng

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