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Cyber Security Authority warns public about Valentine’s Day fraud

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The public has been warned by the Cyber Security Authority about potential fraud associated with the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration on February 14th. It has been cautioned that cyber criminals often take advantage of the occasion to defraud unsuspecting individuals through various online schemes, including online shopping and romance scams.

In a press statement released on February 7th, the Authority revealed that a total of GH¢3,558,940 was reported lost in 2023 due to online shopping and romance scams. As a result, the public is being urged to exercise caution and due diligence in their online activities.

According to the Authority, malicious actors create fake websites or online shops, as well as impersonate existing businesses on social media. They often offer heavily discounted packages and items in an attempt to entice victims to send money for these items. However, in many cases, the items are never received, or they are received in substandard forms.

The Cyber Security Authority has also emphasized the issue of brand impersonation, with scammers creating fake business listings or profiles with contact details on Google Maps. This allows them to imitate authentic businesses and manipulate search results to divert inquiries to their contact numbers. Once victims engage and pay for products, usually using a mobile money wallet, the scammers block them from making further contact, and the expected delivery does not materialize.

Phishing scams are also a concern, where cyber criminals send unsolicited emails or messages claiming to be from a romantic partner or a company offering Valentine’s Day deals. These messages may contain links or attachments that install malicious software or steal personal information when clicked.

The Authority has also raised alarms about romance scams, in which perpetrators create fake online profiles to deceive victims into believing they are in a genuine relationship. They then use this relationship to persuade the victims to send money, provide personal and financial information, or purchase items for them.

To protect against these threats, the Cyber Security Authority has recommended several measures. These include using reputable online marketplaces or retailers, checking reviews and customer feedback before making online purchases, and verifying contact details from official websites or reliable sources. It is also advised to be cautious of fake online shops and exaggerated advertisements, especially on social media platforms, and to insist on payment only after delivery and inspection.

In light of these warnings, it is essential for the public to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to avoid falling victim to cyber fraud during the Valentine’s Day season. By Times Reporter

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