The Cyber Security Authority has issued a warning to the public about potential fraud related to the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebration on February 14. The Authority advises that cybercriminals often take advantage of the occasion to defraud unsuspecting victims through various schemes, such as online shopping and romance scams. In a press statement released on February 7, the Authority revealed that GH¢3,558,940 was reported lost in 2023 due to online shopping and romance scams. Therefore, the public is advised to exercise caution and due diligence in their online activities.
Malicious actors often create fake websites or online shops or impersonate real businesses on social media. They offer heavily discounted packages and items to entice victims to send money for them. Unfortunately, the victims never receive the items they paid for, or they receive substandard versions of the items.
To address brand impersonation, the Cyber Security Authority has highlighted that scammers create fake business listings or profiles on Google Maps, with contact details that imitate real businesses. These scammers manipulate search results to divert inquiries to their contact numbers. “After the unsuspecting victims engage and pay (usually to a mobile money wallet) for products, the scammers block them from making further contact, and the expected delivery does not materialise,” the statement said.
The Authority also warned against phishing scams, where cybercriminals send unsolicited emails or messages claiming to be from a romantic partner or a company offering Valentine’s Day deals, noting that these messages may contain links or attachments that install malicious software or steal personal information when clicked.
Additionally, the Authority raised concerns about romance scams, in which perpetrators create fake online profiles to deceive victims into believing they are in a genuine relationship. “They use the relationship to persuade the victims to send money, provide personal and financial information, or purchase items for them.”
To safeguard against these threats, the Cyber Security Authority advised the public to use reputable online marketplaces or retailers, check reviews and customer feedback before making online purchases, and verify contact details from official websites or reliable sources. It also recommended being cautious of fake online shops and exaggerated advertisements, especially on social media platforms and insisted on payment only after delivery and inspection.
Read the full statement below
By: Prince Adu-Owusu