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How to Deal with Online Scams When Running a Business in Nigeria

2023 Online Scams in Africa Report by KnowBe4 found that nearly 40% of the 800 respondents surveyed in eight African countries, including Nigeria, had fallen victim to an online scam at least once.

Conducting business online has become the new norm, and Nigeria is no exception.

While the internet has revolutionized the way we buy and sell goods and services, it has also created new opportunities for scammers and fraudsters to prey on unsuspecting individuals and businesses.

Online scams are a significant problem in Nigeria, with many people falling victim to fraudulent activities each year.

As a business owner in Nigeria, it is crucial to be aware of the various types of online scams and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your customers.

In this blog post, we will discuss the most common online scams in Nigeria, the signs to look out for, and the steps you can take to safeguard your business and its online presence.

What is a Scam?

A scam is a dishonest scheme or trick used to gain money or some other benefit by misleading or defrauding people.

Online scams are those that are perpetrated using the internet and other digital platforms.

Scammers may use a variety of methods to contact potential victims, including email, social media, messaging apps, or fake websites.

They often target individuals or businesses with the intention of stealing money, personal information, or financial data.

Latest Online Scam Stats in Nigeria

Nigeria has unfortunately gained a reputation as a hub for online scams, and the numbers reflect this unfortunate reality. Here’s a glimpse into some of the statistics that highlight the prevalence of online scams in the country:

  • 7% of Internet users in Nigeria were victims of phishing attacks in 2022. This figure, provided by Kaspersky, an antivirus provider, indicates a significant number of individuals and businesses falling prey to deceptive emails and websites aimed at stealing sensitive information.
  • Financial phishing attempts in Nigeria were primarily targeted at online stores (51.2%), fake payment systems (31.1%), and fake online bank portals (17.8%). This data, also from Kaspersky, underscores the need for heightened vigilance when conducting financial transactions online.
  • 40% of respondents from eight African countries, including Nigeria, reported being scammed online. This finding, from a report by KnowBe4, highlights the widespread nature of online scams across the continent.
  • Social media was the most used platform for scams in Nigeria (32%). This statistic emphasizes the importance of being cautious on social media platforms and scrutinizing offers and requests before taking any action.

These statistics paint a concerning picture of the online scam landscape in Nigeria.

However, they also serve as a wake-up call for businesses and individuals to take proactive measures to protect themselves.

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples of the available statistics on online scams in Nigeria. The actual figures may be even higher, as many victims are hesitant to report such incidents due to fear or embarrassment.

Therefore, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and take proactive steps to protect yourself and your business from online scams.

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Common Online Scams in Nigeria

Shopping Scams

Shopping scams are a type of online fraud that involves fraudsters pretending to be legitimate online sellers or vendors.

They may set up fake websites that mimic popular online stores or use social media platforms to advertise non-existent products at very low prices.

Once victims make a purchase and transfer the money, the scammer disappears, and the victim never receives the goods.

Shopping scams are particularly common during holiday seasons or when there is high demand for certain products.

Online Business Scams

These scams often involve fraudsters pretending to be legitimate online businesses or entrepreneurs. They may offer fake investment opportunities, bogus business proposals, or pretend to be suppliers or manufacturers.

Their goal is to get you to send them money or share sensitive financial information. They may also use social engineering tactics to gain your trust and manipulate you into making decisions that benefit them.

Cryptocurrency Scams

With the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, scammers have also targeted individuals and businesses dealing in digital currencies.

These scams often involve fake investment schemes that promise high returns or fake cryptocurrency exchanges that disappear with your money.

Scammers may also pretend to be technical support staff and ask for remote access to your computer to “fix” a problem, only to install malware or steal your cryptocurrency wallet information.

Fake Job Offers

This type of scam involves fraudsters posting fake job advertisements online, often offering lucrative salaries and benefits.

Once victims apply, they may be asked to pay a fee for training materials or be tricked into sharing personal information that can be used for identity theft. Sometimes, scammers even conduct fake job interviews and make false employment offers to extort money from desperate job seekers.

How to Recognise an Online Scam

Recognizing an online scam can be tricky, as scammers are constantly evolving their tactics to deceive people. However, there are some common signs and red flags that you can look out for:

  1. It seems too good to be true: If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often use attractive deals or opportunities to lure potential victims. Be cautious of prices that are significantly lower than the market rate or investment schemes that promise abnormally high returns.
  2. Sense of urgency: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure you into making quick decisions without thinking twice. They may claim that the offer is only valid for a limited time or that you need to act fast to secure a deal.
  3. Unsolicited contact: Be cautious of emails, messages, or phone calls out of the blue, especially if they ask for personal or financial information. Scammers may pose as legitimate organizations or individuals to gain your trust.
  4. Grammar and spelling errors: Many scam messages and emails contain poor grammar, spelling mistakes, or odd phrasing. While not all scams have these errors, it can be a sign that the message is not from a legitimate source.
  5. Requests for money or financial information: Scammers will eventually ask you to send them money or provide sensitive financial details. They may request payments through unusual methods, such as wire transfers or prepaid gift cards, which are difficult to trace or reverse.
  6. Lack of contact information: Legitimate businesses will always provide contact information, such as a physical address, phone number, or email address. Be wary of websites or individuals who only provide an email address or a PO box as their contact information.
  7. Fake websites: Scammers often create fake websites that look very similar to popular websites or well-known brands. Pay attention to the URL and look for small variations or typos that could indicate a fake site. Secure websites that use HTTPS encryption will have a padlock icon in the address bar.
  8. Negative or absent online reviews: Before doing business with a company or individual, check for online reviews or complaints. If there are mostly negative reviews or no reviews at all, it could be a red flag.
  9. Unusual payment methods: Scammers often request payment through unusual methods such as gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrencies. These methods offer little to no protection for the buyer and make it difficult to get your money back if something goes wrong.
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How to Protect Your Business from Online Scams in Nigeria

Now that we’ve discussed the common types of online scams and how to recognise them, let’s explore some practical tips to protect your business:

  1. Educate yourself and your employees: Ensure that you and your staff are aware of the latest scamming techniques and how to identify them. Stay informed about new types of scams and share this knowledge within your organization.
  2. Secure your online presence: Implement strong security measures on your business’s website and online accounts. Use complex and unique passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and regularly update your security software and patches.
  3. Verify suppliers and vendors: Before doing business with a new supplier or vendor, take the time to verify their legitimacy. Check their physical address, contact information, and online presence. Look for reviews from other businesses and be cautious if they insist on unusual payment methods.
  4. Be cautious of unsolicited offers: If you receive an unsolicited offer via email or social media, be extremely cautious. Scammers often use this tactic to target businesses. Verify the sender’s identity and do your research before responding or providing any information.
  5. Implement safe payment practices: Use secure and trusted payment methods that offer buyer protection. Avoid paying through unusual methods or directly into someone’s personal bank account. If possible, use an escrow service for large transactions to ensure that both parties fulfill their obligations.
  6. Monitor your financial accounts: Regularly review your business’s financial accounts and bank statements for any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity. Report any discrepancies to your financial institution immediately.
  7. Train your staff to be vigilant: Ensure your employees know how to recognize and report potential scams. Encourage them to be vigilant and report any suspicious emails, phone calls, or online activity.
  8. Use secure communication channels: When communicating sensitive information, use secure channels such as encrypted email services or video conferencing platforms with end-to-end encryption. Avoid discussing confidential details over unsecured channels like public Wi-Fi or unencrypted messaging apps.
  9. Back up your data: Regularly back up your important business data and store it securely. This will help protect you in the event of a ransomware attack or data breach.
  10. Report scams and fraud: If you or your business falls victim to an online scam, report it to the appropriate authorities and cybercrime agencies in Nigeria. By reporting scams, you can help warn others and potentially assist in catching the perpetrators.

How to Get Your Money Back After a Scam

If you or your business has fallen victim to an online scam and lost money, there are a few steps you can take to try and get your money back:

  1. Act quickly: The sooner you act, the better your chances of recovering your money. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately and explain the situation. They may be able to stop or reverse the transaction.
  2. Gather evidence: Collect as much information and evidence as possible about the scam. This includes emails, messages, transaction receipts, and any other relevant details. This information will be crucial when filing a report with the authorities.
  3. Contact the payment service: If you made the payment through a service like PayPal or a credit card company, contact them directly and explain what happened. They may have buyer protection policies in place that can help you get your money back.
  4. Report it to the authorities: File a report with the Nigerian police and cybercrime agencies, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Nigerian Cybercrime Response Team. Provide them with all the evidence and information you have gathered.
  5. Seek legal advice: Consider consulting a lawyer who specializes in cybercrime and online fraud. They can advise you on your legal options and may be able to assist in recovering your funds.
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Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of Online Scams in Nigeria

Here are some additional tips to help you stay safe and avoid falling victim to online scams in Nigeria:

  • Be cautious of offers that seem too good to be true. Scammers often use attractive deals to lure victims. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Verify the legitimacy of online sellers. Before making an online purchase, especially from a new or unfamiliar seller, take the time to verify their legitimacy. Check for online reviews, a physical address, and secure payment methods.
  • Never send money to someone you don’t know or trust. Scammers will often try to get you to send money directly to them, whether it’s through a money transfer service, bank transfer, or gift cards. Never send money to someone you haven’t met or don’t know and trust.
  • Be wary of requests for personal or financial information. Scammers may try to trick you into providing sensitive information, such as passwords, bank details, or personal identification numbers (PINs). Never disclose this information unless you are certain of the recipient’s identity and the legitimacy of the request.
  • Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Protect your online accounts by using complex and unique passwords for each account. Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible to add an extra layer of security.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited emails and messages. Be wary of unexpected or unsolicited emails, messages, or friend requests, especially if they ask for personal or financial information. Never click on links or attachments in emails unless you are certain of the sender’s identity and the legitimacy of the message.
  • Keep your antivirus and security software up to date. Ensure that your devices are protected with reputable antivirus and security software. Regularly update this software to ensure you have the latest protection against malware and scams.
  • Be vigilant and trust your instincts. If something feels wrong or doesn’t seem quite right, trust your instincts and take steps to verify the situation. It’s better to be cautious and lose out on a deal than to fall victim to a scam.

Conclusion

Online scams are a serious issue in Nigeria, and businesses need to be vigilant to protect themselves and their customers.

By recognizing the signs of a scam, educating yourself and your staff, and implementing secure practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to online fraud. Remember to report any scams or suspicious activity to the relevant authorities and help spread awareness to keep others safe.

Running a legitimate online business in Nigeria requires being vigilant and proactive in dealing with online scams.

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