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More African connections mean more scams

Email spam, online phishing are up
Fri Jul 03 2009, 11:23

AS CHEAP CONNECTIONS in Africa to the world wide wibble have grown, so have the number of Internet scams originating from the continent, insecurity experts claim.

According to InfoWorld, while Nigerian frauds have been targeting the outside world, increasingly the scammers are looking for soft targets inside the African banking industry.

Phishing attacks are mainly occurring in South Africa where online banking is common, while mobile money theft is common in other parts of Africa where Internet penetration is still low. As a result of the increase, South Africa's Absa bank, the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, announced Tuesday that its Internet banking customers can download security software to curb cyber attacks.

South African consumers are exposed to more phishing attacks because it is the only Sub-Saharan country with well developed online banking services. But now other countries are starting to be targeted by African scammers.

Now that broadband costs are coming down in places like Kenya, a new breed of scammers has been using every technological means to squeeze cash out of people.

Fraudsters in East Africa are using mobile phone based tricks in which subscribers receive SMS messages informing them that they have won money and asking them to transfer funds by phone as "processing fees".

Criminals have been using Tanzanian or Ugandan telephone numbers, which work all across the region, and African mobile phone operators and authorities are being slammed for not arresting anyone.

Some observers think these mobile scammers may be the same people who were behind the infamous "419" email scams originating in Nigera that got into a different line of business after that country cracked down on those operations.

Coppers claim that mobile crime is harder to detect because most of the criminals use pre-paid phones that can be bought anonymously. µ


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