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The FactChecker

Online Fraud: Ways to Spot Fake Websites

By Nanji Nandang

Digital evolution and  technological advancement has without doubt  caused changes in almost all aspects of human endeavor. While these changes have contributed immensely to both human and social development, it has also ushered in an era of fraudulent activities online, what Nigerians widely regard as “Yahoo Yahoo” or “419” in the general sense. 

These online fraud, has been mostly associated with Investment scams, a type of online fraud that offers unsuspecting members of the society juicy investment deals only to swindle their stakes at the long run and financial identity theft, is a type of online fradulent theft where a criminal steals personal or financial information from a victim without their knowledge in order to commit financial fraud or other crimes. According to a report by, a type that is carried out by scammers to access a personal financial details of persons and use it in turn to steal their bank savings.  

These heralding issues and the possible risks online users are prone to, led the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to warn and discourage people against paying attention to messages and calls that demands access to their financial details or offers good investment deals. According to a report by  , Datarepotal, a database for global internet use, mobile devices and apps, social media, and e-commerce.

Nigeria has over 104.4 million internet users as of January 2021 and  this has even increased between 2020 and 2021 with over 19 million new users added. This enormous growth of internet users in the country suggests a wider reach for scammers, a concern that led the Central Bank of Nigeria  to warn members of the public against paying attention to messages and claims that appear questionable or juicy to be true. This reality also makes it important for members of the public to know some of these fraudulent schemes are perpetuated, especially through fake websites and enticing links. 

Fake websites: a strategy for online con-artists

Fake websites have become serious threats to online security. While  some of these websites will tempt you to provide sensitive information to steal your identity, others simply do that when you merely click the link that is usually the bait. 

Even more, according to new data by the American Federal Trade Commision, the use of social media by online fraudsters to get potential victims to click to their fake websites is on the rise. Scams starting on social media proliferated in early 2020 and are now a major issue. 

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Tip Of The Week


There’s precious little that we can do about the barrage of misinformation that we see daily, but there’s a lot we can do together if we learn to identify suspicious claims in the news and refrain from fuelling the fire by spreading them! Here are our top picks of likely-to-be-false news which [sadly] couldn’t be fact-checked.

CLAIM: Viral WhatsApp message announces cholera outbreak

SOURCE: WhatsApp Message

A viral WhatsApp message claims there is an outbreak of Cholera, lists symptoms and urges readers to report, immediately, any case of cholera to health centres close to them for early treatment. How true can this be? As much as this message appears to be serving a public good, it is important to be skeptical of its claims as health information, such as this, should come from trusted/identifiable sources (Credible news platforms)  or regulatory bodies (NCDC, WHO).

Questions to ask yourself: How true is this claim? Which credible platform has published it? What is the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) saying? 

What you should do: Verify before sharing. 

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