The House representatives Ad Hoc Committee directed to investigate the emerging trend of SIM Swap Fraud in the country is expected to report back to the House, within six weeks; with recommendations on how to counter this electronic way of depriving people of their legitimate money in the banks. The House of Representatives action in this respect was as result of a motion moved at the plenary on Thursday, July 25,2019; urging the House of Representatives to conduct an investigative hearing on the emerging trend with a view to “determining ways that banks and telecommunications operators can collaborate to devise measures to combat the menace”.The motion, which was supported by Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, the Member representing Owan Federal Constituency I, recalled that in 2012, the Central Bank had introduced the cashless policy, an initiative which reduced the amount of physical cash involved in business transactions and encouraged the use of electronic platforms for payment of goods and services.
Despite the numerous advantages of electronic transactions, some drawbacks are manifesting in the form of Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) swap fraud. This occurs when a fraudster steals someone’s personal information, mainly from the Internet and uses it to request for a new SIM card from the victim’s network provider, effectively cloning that person’s identity. As soon as the network provider issues the new SIM card with the same number of the person whose identity was stolen, that person’s network signal will disappear from his original line which he would still have in his possession. As the confused victim will be battling to restore his or her line, the fraudster will immediately set to work by diverting any incoming SMS and completing the text-based two-factor authentication checks that protects the owner’s most sensitive accounts in financial services, social networks, webmail services and instant messages.
This type of fraud, I observed, is now used to steal money from people’s bank accounts and simulate emergencies to solicit money from victims’ contacts. In my debate, I recalled the pathetic story of one SawariBolanle, a young mother who was a victim of this new fraud as reported by The Guardian newspaper of July 01, 2019.
Given the widespread incidences of this new tech fraud, the House of Representatives through a unanimous voice vote adopted the motion and resolved to set up an Ad hoc committee to conduct an investigative hearing into the trend. The committee has six weeks to report back to the house for further legislative action.