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Cybercrime and Mobile Payment in Cameroon

By Saron Messembe Obia

The internal wrangling in Cameroon which begun in 2016, following several socio-political requisitions have expose citizens and foreigners in the country to different security threats. Gun shots, knife crimes, use of local bombs and the emergence of cybercrime victims. This paper focuses on victimization through electronic payment by cybercriminals, using mobile money and bitcoin. Despite the appeal of the minister of territorial administration to mobile operating companies in Cameroon to strengthen security protocols for mobile money transactions, help in the identification of suspect, and the slow pace in which ID cards are processed in the country, is another major challenge in policing the different types of crimes. Nonetheless, the paper exposes on cybercriminal modus operandi, as caution mobile money service companies and agents of the growing menace in the field of cyber security.

The development of electronic wallet by mobile operating companies in Cameroon has change the dynamics of cash transfer, the payment of bills, educational fee, purchase of furniture, sponsor of programs by NGOs, but also negative impact, as cybercriminals use to perpetrate crimes, mitigating financial transaction through purchase of bitcoins. Cryptocurrency term which heard in every economic milieu, have become a tool use by some unscrupulous people engage digital marketing and cyber criminality to extort or victimize communities. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency invented in 2008 as an open source software, which started operating in 2009 under the name Satochi Nakoamoto with the following particularities; digital money package which is privately own and exonerate individuals from bank fees, a virtual currency that uses per-to peer technology to facilitate instant payment, bitcoin is purchase through mobile money with the use of internet with cash deposit. Mobile money is an electronic wallet and a pattern which simplifies transfer and withdrawal of money through system configuration on a cell phone (Cash In and Cash Out). 

Drawing from Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji’s 45days warning for all mobile money recipients to be identified by March 2020, is evident that cyber criminality is a major security challenge in Cameroon. The minister revealed troubling statistics in relation to the present socio-political situation in Cameroon; nearly 540 million FCFA of ransom money have been collected by secessionist terrorist during the last four months in North West and South West regions. More so, those engages are not identified by mobile operating companies, and 340 complaints have been registered in the city of Bamenda according to the minister (digitalbusiness.africa).

 Scammers now use NGOs to extort money from nationals and foreigners posing issues relating to the internal wrangling in Cameroon. They usually appeal for donors to sponsor internally displaced persons, scam foreigners and nationals, requesting foreigners to pay with bitcoin. When the victim pays via bitcoin, the criminal cooperate with a mobile money agent, who purchase the bitcoin using the internet and effectuate cash-out (withdrawal via mobile money) for the criminal. There are usually three aspects about these modus operandi by cybercriminals:

No identification document is required from the individual (cybercriminal) for the cash-out

Though some expert claim tracking IMEI can help during criminal investigations, but with no identification only the mobile money agents remain prime suspect to the investigator.

Some criminals operate with stolen ID cards (some use ID cards pick on the road) which can be crucial for investigations. Though law enforcement agencies relay on International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). A criminal operating with someone’s identity (name, date of birth gotten from an identity card) after registering a sim card purchased on road is crucial. After one hit, the sim card and phone is destroyed (usually sim cards sold at 100FCFA, and mobile money subscription free with someone’s else information).

  • Funding individuals engaged in internal wrangling. The internal wrangling in Cameroon particularly in the two English speaking region necessitates new security protocols in relation to identification, financial transactions and funding of non-state actors.
  • Mobile operating companies should caution sale agents on the identification of sim cards with their identity card for others, because the want to sell or make fast profit. Some criminals even buy one to five sim cards and identify with the vendors’ information. They usually give silly complaints as;
  • I have forgotten my ID at home and the vendor will identify the sim card with his or her identity card and even create mobile money account with it, in order to sell the sim card.
  • Some declare their ID card is missing but still purchase and identify sim cards with invalid receipt or scan ID card.

Once one has a mobile money account, cash-out does not require an ID card, just the personal identifiant number (PIN) and even cash-in does not require the identity of the person depositing the money, except the transaction is done from a personal phone. For example; criminals calling individuals in the South West region, claiming to be non-state actors in request for support, if not will attack the person or family member. Other for instance, use of someone’s identity to register a sim card and create a mobile money account, which is controlled from another device to cash-out ransom for non-state actors.

Mobile operating companies should develop new security protocols in other to identify individuals effectuating Cash Out or Cash In, in crisis zones in order to limit funding of criminal networks.

  • The person carrying out the transaction may complain the sim card was not registered with his / her name. More so, with the use of new technological patterns, sim cards are being cloned, fake ID cards produce despite the biometric process introduced in Cameroon. As such, any person paying money into someone’s account (cash-in) in any kiosque, the ID card or receipt of the person be snap as well as when a withdrawal (cash-out) is made.
  • With the growing security menace from unscrupulous individuals appeal for support negative activities, any individual constraint to send money to an unknown person via mobile money, there after must get in touch with law enforcement officers with the following information

Mobile operating companies should caution sale agents on the identification of sim cards with their identity card for others, because the want to sell or make fast profit. Some criminals even buy one to five sim cards and identify with the vendors’ information. They usually give silly complaints as;

name of the recipient, phone number and reason for the transaction, to help mobile operating companies and law enforcement experts to block such transactions and apprehend perpetrators.

Submitting a complaint in a police station is more complex than suffering from cancer in Cameroon. Some usually attest not being attended to in stations, the best approach to be adopted by law enforcement agents, as well as to facilitate criminal investigations is to produce a document which comprises; The allege suspect name, phone number used, picture if any, date and reason for transaction. Meanwhile, the victim will submit his/her name, phone number, photocopy identity card, location plan, finger prints and signature. Most victims have usually not gone through formal educations, and sometime have difficulties in writing, as such the finger print, signature, picture and stamp will certify the complaint against X (particularly if the complaint is being written by a police officer due to their incapacity). Also mobile operating companies should caution individuals using their personal mobile money accounts (who are not registered sale agents working with mobile operating companies in the country) to buy

bitcoins online and pay cybercriminals via mobile money about legal prescriptions and sanctions as per; LAW N° 2010/012 OF 21 DECEMBER 2010 RELATING TO CYBERSECURITY AND CYBERCRIMINALITY IN CAMEROON.

Cyber insecurity is gaming Cameroon administrative system, from the cyber-attack on the presidential website in 2015 and the recent breach of the ELECAM website, security protocols need to be strengthen at the level of mobile operators, banks, and even national security. Each minute youngsters connect to study cyber security, particularly courses on hacking, policing methods are required before and upon graduation of those engaged in the field of security studies. However, the present socio-political crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon is a major security menace, as most techies are base in Buea, Silicon Mountain. Ethical hackers are necessary for the control and monitoring of activities in the country. Forensic and criminal profilers play a great role in the crackdown of cybercriminals; they understand their modus operandi, language use in the milieu and gadgets or tools used. Communication is weapon of mass destruction, as well as a tool for peace building.

(The Author is the Editor of crimeandmoreworld.com)

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India COVID-19 News

 May 12, 2021

India Coronavirus Cases: 22,992,517 Deaths:249,992

How to identify Fake News or Messages on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they a.re developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

Without evidence or with fake evidence, a conspiracy theory will always remain a conspiracy theory.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+916289017966

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