Bank customers lost a whopping N42.755 billion to fraudulent activities perpetrated through social engineering in just three months, data obtained by Sunday have shown.

Social engineering is when fraudsters trick individuals to reveal personal data that could be used to access their bank accounts.

In the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the months following, many Nigerians were and are still being defrauded mainly thorough social engineering.

With increasing penetration of fraudsters into the banks’ database, experts have warned Nigerians to avoid releasing sensitive information to strangers.

This is as some customers believe that staff of banks also collude with these fraudsters to release sensitive information with which they use in perpetrating their heinous crimes.

Data from the Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) showed that social engineering is still a preferred and successful technique employed by fraudsters, as a total of 11,589 cases were reportedly carried out using various social engineering techniques, resulting in N42.755 billion fraud loss value for Q3,2020. This represented 68 per cent of the entire fraud volume and value for the third quarter of 2020.

Although, investigation revealed a rapid increase in the spate of calls from fraudsters claiming to be bank staff with the motive to get sensitive information that could give them access to victims’ accounts, there are strong indications that some bank workers partake in this racket by selling sensitive information of customers to these fraudsters for a fee.

Experts however believe that while few of the fraudsters have insider links in the banks, a majority of them rely mainly on information gotten from people’s mobile phones, especially, stolen ones, or from websites in which bank customers may have done one transaction or the other, hence, revealing certain sensitive information that could be useful for fraudsters to pounce. learnt that the fraudsters trick Nigerians by pretending to be staff of a bank, and ask for some details that will give them access to customers’ bank account; once they succeed in getting the information, they withdraw almost all the funds in there.

So, when fraudsters call bank customers and read their bank verification number (BVN), their full names and date of birth, many believe that they are being called from their banks and give out other sensitive information such as the two-factor authentication code that allows a successful diversion of the customer’s fund.

Many Nigerians have been defrauded this way and there has not been anyone who takes responsibility for the funds that have been stolen in this regard.

While banks, in this circumstance, always insist that the customer would have compromised his or her bank details for the fraud to have been successfully carried out, customers accuse the banks of leaking out information or collaborating with the fraudsters.

One opportunity that fraudsters leveraged on last year was through the several government social intervention funds aimed at relieving the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Nigerians, to rob them of their funds.

They had sent messages via WhatsApp and text telling people to fill a form to be a recipient of some of the funds being disbursed.

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