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Cyber Security Authority warns public during Valentine’s Day festivities

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The public has been cautioned by the Cyber Security Authority (CSA) to exercise caution and due diligence in their online activities during the Valentine’s Day celebration. According to the Authority, malicious cyber actors have been using the occasion to defraud unsuspecting victims through various schemes.

The warning comes as a result of the significant losses recorded in 2023, with at least GHC 3,558,940.00 lost through online shopping and romance scams. In response to this, the Cyber Security Authority issued a press statement, outlining the various tactics used by malicious actors to deceive and defraud individuals.

One of the methods employed by cybercriminals is the creation of fake websites or online shops, as well as impersonating existing businesses on social media platforms. These fake entities offer heavily discounted packages and items, tricking victims into sending money for products that they either never receive or receive in substandard forms.

In addition, the statement also highlighted the use of fake business listings and profiles on Google Maps, which mimic legitimate businesses or brands. The scammers manipulate search engine results to divert legitimate inquiries to their contact numbers, further deceiving unsuspecting victims.

Furthermore, malicious actors have been sending unsolicited emails or messages claiming to be from a romantic partner or a company offering Valentine’s Day deals. These messages often contain links or attachments that, when clicked, install malicious software or steal personal information.

The Cyber Security Authority advised the public to be cautious of “too good to be true” deals on Valentine’s Day packages or gifts, and to use reputable online marketplaces or retailers when making purchases. They also recommended looking for reviews and customer feedback before completing an online purchase.

The statement stressed the importance of validating the contact details of shops through official websites or reliable sources rather than relying solely on search engine results. Additionally, individuals were urged to be alert for fake online shops and hyped adverts, especially on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram.

The CSA also advised the public to insist on payment only after delivery and inspection, to be wary of unsolicited messages or emails claiming to be from a romantic partner, and not to share personal information such as Ghana card numbers, credit card information, or bank account details with anyone. They also emphasized the importance of making mobile money payments to wallets in the name of the online shop with which they are dealing.

In an effort to provide support and guidance, the Cyber Security Authority has established a 24-hour Cybersecurity or Cybercrime Incident Reporting Point of Contact (PoC) for reporting cybercrimes and seeking assistance with online activities.

In conclusion, the public is being urged to remain vigilant and exercise caution when conducting online activities, especially during festive occasions like Valentine’s Day. It is crucial to be aware of the various tactics used by malicious cyber actors and take proactive measures to protect personal and financial information. By being knowledgeable and cautious, individuals can minimize the risk of falling victim to online scams and fraud.

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