Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Worried by spate of electronic scam and related frauds in Nigeria, especially the number of traders and business people that fall for con artists, a non-governmental organisation, Global Society for Anti-Corruption (GSAC) has taken sensitisation campaign to markets in the South East.
The group said the effort was to ensure that the traders were properly enlightened about tricks of fraudsters and how not to succumb to them thereby getting swindled of their hard-earn money.
The crusade which kicked off at the Ogbete Main Market, Enugu recently, last week, berthed at the Onitsha Main Market, Anambra State.
Addressing a crowd of traders, Regional Director, South-East and South-South, Mrs. Amaka Nweke said that group partners the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) in the fight against scam and other fraudulent activities in the society.
Nweke who said that they do not arrest suspects reportedly involved in fraud explained that the group could mediate and settle minor financial issues between persons or group of persons, if invited.
“We are here to educate the traders about electronic scam because we have got reports about how some of them became victims of fraud through text messages, emails or ATM card. So, we came to enlighten them on different scams going on in the country; how to identify and avoid them. For instance, when they receive unsolicited phone text messages or calls telling them to divulge their BVN or ATM card number or pin to fix their account.
“We advised them to go to their bank to verify before sending anything to such requests because the message may come from scammers who want to siphon the money in their account. Sometime, customers will come to buy from the traders and after that they may do transfer of money to their accounts and such person will actually get the alert but at the end, you find out that the money did not enter into the person’s account when the person checked his account. So, in this case, we advised the traders to always verify with their account officer or go to the bank after the transfer to be sure before they supply the customer the goods,” she stated.
She further noted that the fight against corruption is not just for one place but everywhere, hence, “we are taking the crusade to churches, high institutions, hospitals and to students in the primary and secondary schools to see how we can inculcate it in them so that they would not grow up with that mind-set that Nigeria is a corrupt nation.”
Also, GSAC Project Officer, Florence Ugwu in her presentation said there was need for more effective measures beyond laws in the fight against corruption because as she put it, “fraud is a citizen in every country which lives with every system of government and economy.”
Ugwu however, stated that corruption persists due to lack of political will to tackle it headlong.
In his remarks, Chairman of Onitsha Main Market, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu in remarks confirmed that many of their members at different points had fallen prey to scammers.
“There are people going around defrauding traders; when they visit your shop to buy goods and after the transaction, they will tell you to give them your account details to transfer money. You will actually receive alert but the money will not reflect in your account and by then; they might have made away with your goods.
“We are going to ensure that the crusade and the good news of the fight against scam get to every trader in the market so that everybody will be vigilante at all time,” Ekwegbalu.
He therefore, appealed to traders to always report if defrauded, so that the criminals would be arrested, prosecuted and the money recovered and returned to the owner.
An official of the ICPC, Mr. Ozi Agualize, who was a resource person at the event explained in details to the traders the various methods and tactics employed by scammers. He also enlightened them on the baits that fraudsters usually design for traders.