The latest report released by the Bank of Ghana on cyber fraud indicates that the banking industry, in 2019, reported a total of 2,295 fraud cases as compared to 2,175 fraud cases reported in 2018.
Giving reasons for the increase in the number of fraud cases in the sector, the central bank stated that the use of advanced technology has made it easier for cyber-crime to take place.
The statement read, “Also in recent times, the various forms of advanced technologies adopted by financial institutions have made the banking sector more susceptible to various risks such as phishing, identity theft, card skimming, vishing, e-mail fraud and more sophisticated types of cyber crime.”
Giving more explanation for this development, the Business Operations Manager at E-Crime Bureau, Philip Danquah Debrah indicated that the rise was due to the inability of the financial institutions to manage vulnerabilities that come with using technology.
“What makes cyber fraud possible is just because of vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities can mean that no matter how your system is or no matter where you have acquired your applications and devices that operate your network and everything that is on your corporate infrastructure, you’re always liable to some level of vulnerability,” he said to Citi Business News.
“In 2018, we saw the emergence of ATM fraudsters where they are able to have access by opening bank accounts and even using existing accounts and compromising ATM systems to withdraw money. That has been the trend. Now we are seeing more of e-payments across board whether ATM, mobile banking, or internet banking. We are seeing infiltration of cyber criminals to take advantage of this same vulnerabilities we are speaking about. So it tells us that we not managing the vulnerability as effectively as we should.”
Mr. Debrah further urged Ghanaians to be more vigilant when using digital platforms to perform financial transactions.
“In Ghana, what we have realised is that individuals have become very big consumers of technology products and it is an area where we have to be extremely mindful of in terms of helping law enforcement to investigate some of these issues when they occur. Now, for an individual who experiences such fraud, first of all, you should know your environment. You should know the platform that you are on. You should be able to understand the risk that you are liable to experience with signing up to a number of its financial products. You have a responsibility to know the risks from the bank’s perspective. So when you’re subscribing to products, you should know the risks. In knowing the risks, you’ll then be able to help to identify anything that may have gone wrong,” he stressed.
Similar to the situation in 2019, the Bank of Ghana’s 2018 report on fraud in the banking sector revealed that cyber fraudsters attempted to steal at least GH¢325.9 million from financial institutions operating the country.
The report stated that the amount involved represents a 190 percent increase in the value reported in 2017.
Explaining the modus operandi of the criminals, the Bank of Ghana explained that the fraudulent activities mainly involved email fraud, fraud through the use of internet banking platforms and fraud perpetrated through the mobile money or other digital payment platforms.
The most common type adopted was email phishing where customers were lured through emails to either update or verify passwords and in the process steal sensitive information of customers.
Some 17 reported cases also involved fraudsters hacking into customers email and sending instructions to the customer’s bank for monies to be transferred to either a domestic account or an overseas account.
Meanwhile, the banking industry continues to face the issue of fraud, with the Cyber Crime Unit of the CID receiving several complaints of similar attacks against a number of banks in the country in 2020 alone.