Online impersonation costs individuals, businesses GH¢49.5 million – CSA

Cyber Security Authority (CSA)
Cyber Security Authority (CSA)

The Cyber Security Authority (CSA) has disclosed that unsuspecting individuals and some credible businesses in the country lost have a staggering GH¢49.5 million, due to online impersonation in the first half of 2023 alone. 

This significant sum stands as a stark testament to the escalating threat posed by cyber criminals assuming false identities for personal gain or to intimidate victims.

The worrying trend is in sync with the 2022 Banking Sector Fraud Report from the Bank of Ghana, which indicates that for that whole year, fraudsters were able to steal up to GHS82 million using various social engineering and technical tricks.

The CSA’s public alert elucidates the modus operandi of these malicious actors, who exploit digital platforms to adopt personas of renowned figures like politicians, business magnates, government officials, and credible brands. The objective is often to extract financial benefits, sow discord, or employ intimidation tactics.

A precise breakdown of the data reveals that between January and July 2023, the CSA was confronted with a total of 58 reported cases of online impersonation, with the victims collectively losing GH¢49.5 million.

This revelation arrives on the heels of a concerted joint action undertaken by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Bank of Ghana (BoG), and the CSA. Their collaborative effort culminated in the apprehension of 422 suspects linked to illegal lending applications. The operation followed an exhaustive investigation into 270 instances of cyberbullying, fraud, extortion, and misuse of customer data.

Notably, this crackdown exposed the underbelly of unlicensed digital lending platforms, where unscrupulous practices thrived. A disconcerting revelation emerged – the misuse of authorized permissions obtained from unsuspecting users, which facilitated a gamut of cyber transgressions. Threats, unauthorized dissemination of private content, and coercive tactics were deployed with audacity.

The CSA’s alert underscores that the deceptive strategies of these impostors encompass a wide array of scams. Ranging from job/recruitment schemes to investment cons and contract frauds, these scams exploit human vulnerabilities and capitalize on trust and urgency.

As a call to vigilance, the CSA advises the public to exercise skepticism towards unsolicited communications, particularly from unfamiliar sources. It recommends thorough due diligence and background checks before engaging in financial transactions, especially those stemming from promising job offers, financial gains, or lucrative opportunities.

The consequences of online impersonation are far-reaching and demand collective awareness and concerted action. It has become imperative to reinforce digital defenses and cultivate a culture of cyber resilience.

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