By Kingsley Omonobi, Abuja.
Following the disclosure by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), that financial institutions and related industries losses to electronic fraud activities have grown to a staggering N400billion, Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase has directed the immediate setting up of a ‘Dedicated Payment and Card Crime Unit in the Nigeria Police Force to tackle the menace.
The unit is to be set up by the Force Criminal Investigations Department.
Disclosing that electronic fraud and the huge consequences on the nation’s economy had become unacceptable, the IGP said the police force under his leadership has made it a policy to ensure that its crime fighting activities are intelligence driven.
Arase spoke when the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank (Operations), Alhaji Sulaiman Barau and the Chairman, Nigerian Electronic fraud Forum, Mr. Dipo Fatokun paid a working visit to Force headquarters.
According to the Deputy Governor, ‘The purpose of setting up the Nigerian Electronic fraud forum is aimed at checkmating electronic fraud which became rife following the take-off of the cash-less policy in Lagos.
“Given the importance of providing secure payment systems whilst ensuring public confidence in electronic means of payment, the role of proactive fraud management could not be over-emphasized. It is in this context and leveraging on the lessons learnt from past experience that the Nigeria e-fraud forum was established.
Expatiating further on the need for the fraud forum, Barau said, “No one single institution can defeat fraud on its own; a significant exposure exists by operating in isolation. Fraud by its nature affects all institutions and as such, it is more effective to work as a group. In addition, customers do not perceive fraud as an issue with a specific bank but with all electronic payments.
“An effective fraud forum will protect the integrity of the banking industry from criminal threat, as well as boost public confidence in the use of electronic payments.
“Important stakeholders such as law enforcement agencies will be more likely to listen and commit resources to fight crime if they know they are dealing with an industry body who expresses a common opinion and requirement.
“Criminals will capitalize if there is disunity amongst the banks (as has been experienced in the past, where the same fraudster attacks multiple banks, and is not caught, due to lack of information sharing).
“Dealing with players in the e-payment delivery value chain on risk requirements is made significantly easier because the fraud forum can articulate its common requirements.
Insisting that the activities of the forum has helped bridge the gaps by fostering collaboration not just among banks but players in the payment industry, law enforcement, consumer protection agencies and judiciary, the Deputy governor said, “e-fraud is a threat not only to individuals and corporate organizations but also the entire nation.
“Its cost implication can be measured through not only economic but social impacts, as it is evident today that industry losses have grown to over N400billion. This buttresses the fact that e-fraud has become an industry of its own.
Consequently, he said, “today, with the enactment of the cybercrime (prohibition, prevention) act 2015, offences are now clearly outlined and it has become imperative for us to build the investigative capacity of our law enforcement agencies especially the Nigerian police force.
“We are suggesting establishment of a dedicated payment and card crime unit in the Nigerian Police and setting up of a working group comprising of members of the Nigerian electronic fraud forum and the Nigeria police to achieve this.”