OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to probe the emerging trend of Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM) swap fraud with a view to determining ways that banks and telecommunications operators can collaborate in devising measures to combat the menace.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Ibezi (APGA, Anambra) during plenary on Thursday.
Mr. Ibezi cited a report in the Guardian Newspaper of Monday July 1, 2019 that despite the numerous advantages of electronic platforms for banking transactions, some drawbacks are already manifesting in the form of SIM swap.
He explained that fraud occurs when a fraudster steals someone’s personal information, mainly from the internet and uses it to request for a new SIM card from that person’s network provider, effectively cloning that person.
He noted that as soon as the network provider issues the new SIM card with the same number of the person whose identity was stolen, the person’s network signal will disappear from his original line which he would still have in his possession.
He said: “While the person is bemused as to why the signal on his line disappeared and while battling to have the matter resolved, including trying to contact his network provider, the fraudster immediately diverts incoming SMS messages and complete the text-based two-factor authentication checks that protect an owner’s most sensitive accounts in financial services, social networks, webmail services and instant messengers”
”Kaspersky Lab Research showed that mobile payments are suffering a wave of attacks through SIM swap fraud and customers are losing colossal amount of money in the process,” he informed further.
He however expressed concern that this type of attack is used not only to steal credentials and capture One-Time Passwords (OTPs) sent via SMS but also to cause financial damage to victims by resetting the accounts on financial services, allowing the fraudsters access to currency accounts, not only in banks but also in fin-techs and credit unions.
He also said the fraudsters steal money using WhatsApp platform, loading the messages in a new phone and linking up with the victim’s contacts to ask them for money, while simulating an emergency.
According to him, “the increasingly widespread nature of this fraud has the potential to discourage people from embracing mobile and internet banking facilities, especially in the face of the buck passing between the banks and telecommunications operators as to whether victims of financial frauds should be classified as bank customers or as telecommunications operators customers.”
The motion was adopted by the House without debate.
The ad-hoc committee is expected to report back in six (6) weeks for further legislative action.