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This is how cyber-criminals trick their victims to hand over their hard-earned money

According to a survey, 53% of those who fell victim were sure the offer was authentic since the website appeared to be legitimate. Picture: Pixabay

According to a survey, 53% of those who fell victim were sure the offer was authentic since the website appeared to be legitimate. Picture: Pixabay

Published Sep 13, 2023

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In a poll, almost half of the 800 African participants have been victims of an internet scam at least once, losing their hard-earned money by revealing their personal information.

This frightening statistic is one of the primary conclusions of the recently released KnowBe4 2023 Online Scams and Victims in Africa Report.

The research is based on 800 responses from people in eight African countries: South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritius, and Botswana.

According to the survey, 53% of those who fell victim were sure the offer was authentic since the website appeared to be legitimate, while approximately 48% of the scams were financial in nature.

“These numbers highlight that online scams have evolved. What is concerning is that 43% of the victims were distracted and multi-tasking when they fell for the scam, which highlights how easy it is for a person to make a mistake when they are not paying attention.

“Their emotional states can affect a person’s judgement, awareness, and decision-making, causing them to be more vulnerable to online deception,” said Anna Collard of KnowBe4 Africa.

Collard added that the most prevalent sort of internet fraud was financial frauds, which affected nearly half of the respondents.

This includes bogus investments (30%), cryptocurrency and NFTs (29%), brand impersonation (28%), information theft (24%), online shopping (21%), and bogus job offers (21%).

The “traditional Nigerian scam” (17%), family or friend impersonation (18%), law enforcement impersonation (seven percent), tax fraud (six percent), holiday fraud (nine percent), romance fraud (13%), and lottery fraud (15%) were among the less common, but still important frauds.

Email was the most commonly used method for fraudsters to begin contact, accounting for 24% of all incidents. Social media came in second with 19%, followed by WhatsApp (10%) and other messaging platforms such as Telegram (eight percent).

In Nigeria, however, social media was the most popular venue for fraudsters (32%), while email was the most popular technique (28%).

The scammers often used social engineering techniques to convince their victims, such as creating rapport or trust by making websites look legitimate, sending messages that appealed to emotions, using social media profiles that seemed authentic and avoiding spelling or grammar mistakes.

According to the research, falling for a scam had a major psychological impact on many victims. While 23% indicated it had no or little influence on them, over 50% claimed it had a significant or moderate impact.

The findings show how simple it is for victims to blame themselves when, in reality, they were duped by devious scam methods.

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