Reps probe SIM swap fraud

The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the alleged Subscriber Identification Module swap by service providers in the telecommunications and banking sectors.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion moved by Mr Ifeanyichukwu Ibezi, entitled, ‘Increasing Incidents of SIM Swap Fraud.’

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The lawmakers unanimously resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to conduct an investigative hearing on the “increasingly emerging trend of SIM swap fraud, with a view to determining ways that banks and telecommunications operators can collaborate in devising measures to combat the menace.”

The panel to be set up was mandated to report back to the House in six weeks for further legislative action.

Moving the motion, Ibezi recalled that in 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria established a cashless policy which was an initiative to reduce the amount of physical cash in circulation, thereby encouraging the use of electronic platforms for settlement or payment for goods and services.

He explained that the policy prescribed cash handling charges on daily withdrawal above N500,000 for individuals and N3m for corporate bodies.

This, he said, was to ensure that the more transactions taking place within the banking system, the more effective monetary policy would be in managing inflation and driving economic growth, and addressing the risks and expenses associated with handling large volume of cash.

The lawmaker said, “The House notes that despite the numerous advantages of electronic platforms for banking transactions, some drawbacks are already manifesting in the form of SIM swap fraud, which occurs when a fraudster steals someone’s personal information, mainly from the Internet and uses it to request for a new SIM card from that person’s network provider, effectively cloning that person.

“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 will still have in his possession.

“While the person is bemused as to why the signal on his line disappeared and would be battling to have the matter resolved, including trying to contact his network provider, the fraudster immediately sets to work by diverting the incoming SMS messages and completing the text-based two-factor authentication checks that protect an owner’s most sensitive accounts in financial services, social networks, webmail services and instant messengers.” (punch)

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