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A ticklish website offers freebies for people to stay home, then invades users’ privacy

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Information circulating across WhatsApp groups claims that a free N4, 000 and 1000GB internet data is available for all Nigerians to stay safe at home.

FALSE. The promise of N4, 000 and 1000GB free internet data available for all Nigerians to stay at home is misleading. The website sets out to stylishly invade user’s privacy.

FULL TEXT

Despite the constant efforts by Dubawa and other Fact-checking organizations to debunk misinformation and Disinformation on social media, fake news peddlers are not giving up, rather they are still  planning new ways to trick unsuspecting readers.

Since the outbreak of COVID19, there has been several information making the rounds, including relief grants for COVID19, many of which turned out to be false. For instance, a crisis grant of N652,100 was said to be available for families as well as the NCDC’s promise of COVID relief grants, all of which Dubawa has fact-checked and debunked.

Recently, a  message circulating on WhatsApp claims that there is urgent  support available for all Nigerians to stay home in order to avoid coronavirus.

The message reads; “Urgent, in support of all Nigerians. Obtain N4000 Balance credit and 1000GB free internet from here.”

VERIFICATION

Dubawa clicked on the website using a mobile phone and a Laptop with softwares that detects dangerous websites.

Screenshot of scamdoc

On the first click on the website using a mobile device, the link led us to a site with motion Logos of GLO, MTN, 9Mobile and Airtel. And, on the top of the site it  recorded 2,422,525 cases of infected persons with COVID19.

The inscription on the first click on the site reads; “To face the corona virus – free credit Nigeria. Click Continuer”.

Screenshot of the first click of website

We clicked on the “Continuer button” which led us to another website requesting we answer one-minute survey to get free credit.

Question 1 of the survey requests we choose our network provider, and suggests MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9mobile and others. 

Screenshot of the click of second click 

We decided to choose one of the network providers and the site also led us to another site, asking us how regularly we wash our hands. Dubawa clicked on one of the suggested options, and the site took us to the third question, which reads, “have you had symptoms of the disease, answer Yes or No”.

Screenshot of the click of third click 

Then the website congratulates the user and requests that the user share the message to 20 friends and click continue. 

Recall, Dubawa has fact-checked a similar whatsApp message requesting users to share with 20 friends before claiming the COVID19 relief grants, and users who wanted to return to the previous page(s) were dribbled to a site of no return.

Screenshot of the click of fourth click 

Similarly, we tried returning to the previous site and the site took us to another website with the name of homepaged Bet9ja, a popular betting brand in Nigeria, and requested users to open a Bet9ja account.

Further, Dubawa opened the link with the Laptop with features that detect dangerous sites, McAfee Website Advisor immediately restricted us from opening the sites, indicating that the site may be risky to visit.

Screenshot of McAfee WebAdvisor restricting user

A part of the McAfee WebAdvisor Malicious sites reads; “Web pages that deploy code specifically designed to hijack your computer’s setting or activity. This includes self-installing applications called “drive-by executable life downloads.” This site was referring to the link already shared on whatsApp groups.

A screenshot of McAfee WebAdivisor

In confirmation of McAfee WebAdvisor Malicious site, we noticed a pop-up page requesting access to our computer.

More indicators

Scamdoc, a reliable tool that fact-checks the authenticity of websites, rated the site 10%, which is a very bad trust score, warning,  “only for experienced users”.

To further verify the website, Dubawa used the Whois domain, a website that provides service identification and contact information for websites. The analysis of Whois domain shows that the site was created in August 2019, updated in August 2020, and is to expire in August 2021.

 Screenshot warning users of the danger of the site

Dubawa further observed that the total number of coronavirus cases recorded on the  website (2,422,525) is not accurate about both global or Nigerian total recorded cases. In  three separate days, Dubawa clicked on the site, it has the same recorded cases, which is impossible as there have been daily updated reports of the number of COVID19 infections each day both in Nigeria and outside the country .

A screenshot of the website requesting user create bet9ja account

Further observation on the site includes the rating by few individuals. The number of times Dubawa checked, but the minutes the reviewer posted on the benefit of the website stood still.  In a genuine website, the minutes each reviewer replied changes. Further when Dubawa clicked on the pictures of the reviewers, it led to another site showing that the website and poster is active on the internet.

Conclusion

FALSE.  Dubawa’s probe of the website shows that the promise of N4,000 and 1000GB free internet data available for all Nigerians to stay at home is misleading and aimed at invading users’ privacy.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with TODAY95.1FM, Port Harcourt to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country. 

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