Claim: a certain web-based message making the rounds on different social media platforms claims Tinubu is offering Nigerians 19,800 Naira as part of a support grant.
The claim that Tinubu is offering Nigerians 19,800 Naira as part of a support grant is false. The associated website is confirmed as fake, a typical one used by charlatans to defraud unsuspecting members of the public. Hence, this claim is false.
A serious threat on Social Media is that misinformation spreads faster than credible news. At the click of a button, users share information on health, politics, volunteer opportunities, jobs, businesses and all manner of things. A typical example is the message making rounds on social media asking people to follow a link to receive ₦19,800 from the Tinubu organization.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is a foremost Nigerian politician; two-term former Governor of Lagos State, and current national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) whose dominant status in the Nigerian society is perhaps why the acclaimed link was widely spread on WhatsApp groups.
In one group where the link was shared, one member commented that “I am sure Tinubu is sharing this money to boost his 2023 presidential aspirations” while another member rendered that “this is a scam, Tinubu is not giving out any money.”
Whatever the case may be, DUBAWA conducted multiple similar fact checks on typical links offering financial grants in the guise of prominent persons. In one case that was fact checked, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar was also said to give out grants, but like all former related claims, DUBAWA confirmed it to be a ruse.
Fraudulent websites are quite common and this sort of scams are often attempts by scammers to pretend to be trustworthy companies or organisations in order to get personal information from victims. Previously, it has been easier to identify fraudulent websites but scammers have now upgraded their tactics. As a result, DUBAWA opts to investigate the alleged link and the message in question.
As juicy and inviting as the claim appears to be, there is no official statement from Bola Ahmed Tinubu that backs it up or media reports that suggest its validity.
An analysis with Domainbigdata, a web tool used to verify a website ownership, revealed that the website has been reported several times for abuses, attacks, and malware.
Even more, the website in question was forcefully redirecting users to another site that appears to be for betting. This is a typical scheme by ‘malvertiziters’ to illicitly boost traffic to websites by forcing users to visit them.
Another alarming reality noticed with the acclaimed website was the dummy testimonial comments it displayed. This is a typical strategy used by online scammers to lure prospective victims into their den. Another clear-red flag is the disparity between the amount of money pledged and the one outlined by the alleged testifiers (screenshot below). While the alleged grant offered 19, 800 Naira, others presented testimonies of N100, 000. This contradiction signals a shady complot.
DUBUWA also noticed that the acclaimed link is a ‘Bitly URL’. Bitly URL is a shortening service and a link management platform that was established in 2008. It is privately held and based in New York City. Bitly shortens over 600 million links per month, for use in social networking, SMS, and email. While the motive behind its creation is to help entrepreneurs to easily share their links on social media, attract customers and sell their product or services, charlatans are now using it negatively to maladvertize, and draw traction to websites that offer no services at all.
According to Pandasecurity Bitly URLs are dangerous and people should be wary of them. “Anyone who randomly scans bit.ly URLs will find thousands of unlocked OneDrive folders and can modify existing files in them or upload arbitrary content, potentially including malware. This way of distributing malware is worrisome because it is both quick and effective.”
Evidenty, the points rendered proved true, as the alleged website demands users to share further to other users before accessing the said grant as seen in the screenshot above. This is a typical tactic used by scammers to draw traction to websites
Apparently, Tinubu is not offering a grant, and the acclaimed website is a scam. Based on the analysis carried out:
Fake website: key indicators
One key indicator of a genuine website would be the small padlock symbol next to the website address on the address bar. The small padlock indicates that the website is secured by an TLS/SSL certificate that encrypts user data making the connection secure. It is easy to obtain an SSL certificate and scammers have taken advantage of this fact.
One page website
It is not unusual to have a single page website; some organizations use them to make it easier to navigate their content. All information is usually contained on the page including contact information and relevant information pertaining to the organization. The website in question does not have the contact information about the organization and the links on the website are redirected to a betting site. The process of redirecting links is known as deceptive redirection and is often quite common with spammers and fraudsters.
Asking for personal information
Although many websites ask for some personal information one has to be careful with the information they provide online. Your personal information can be used to steal your identity and commit fraud. There is no website with full safety and privacy, so one has to be very careful while sharing any personal information.
Using a similar name for the genuine website
To confuse people, fraudsters often use website names and URLs that are similar to websites they are trying to mimic.
Bola Tinubu’s organization holds the name Bola Tinubu Support Organization while the fraudulent website is Bola Tinubu Support Organization Support funds.
How can you protect yourself from fraudulent websites?
- Run site through a website checker
When in doubt, use a website checker to verify if a website is secure. A secure website check can let you know any vulnerabilities on the site, if it is using encryption and what level of verification a site has.
Look out for trust indicators on a website
Trust indicators or signals are elements that are often displayed on websites that help users feel more secure and are proof of a business’ conduct or trustworthiness. The most common indicators are:
- A return policy
- Contact information for the business or organization, like a phone number and address
- Correct spelling and grammar
- Online reviews (simply Google “reviews for [site name]” to find online feedback)
While genuine websites may not have trust indicators, most of them do. However, you should be careful and skeptical of sites that do not have these indicators.
Do not provide sensitive information
If you receive a link to a fraudulent site, do not provide any sensitive information like your name and contact information. Additionally, do not repost or share the links to minimize the spread of misinformation.
Report Fraudulent Website
You can also do something about Fraudulent websites. The Internet Crime Complaint Center or Google Safe Browsing are designed to deal with fake websites. To make submissions, you can easily copy the URL to the fake website and submit it to any of the above mentioned platforms. The process is easy and the results are usually timely.
As findings show, Bola Ahmed Tinibu, or any of his organisations, is not offering N19,800 as grants. This scheme is perpetrated by online scammers to lure and extort from unsuspecting members of the public.