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Recently, Nigerian nationals Solomon Ekunke Okpe and Johnson Uke Obogo were sentenced in a US court for running a sophisticated fraud scheme that caused up to US$1 million in losses to victims. 

They hacked into corporate emails, stole money from people and businesses, and tricked others into transferring the loot. 

Let us review how this happens (they employed all these tactics). 


1. Hacking into email accounts  

The hackers pose as trustworthy institutions such as banks, email providers, and employers, exploiting a sense of urgency to dupe users into revealing their money, login credentials, credit card information, or other valuable data. 

Some scammers employ a more straightforward approach, preying on weak passwords. With automated tools at their disposal, they can crack passwords that are too short or overly simplistic.   


2. Attacking business partners  

 Rather than casting a wide net, the hackers carefully target individuals using information obtained through meticulous online research. By personalising their deceptive emails, they make it harder to recognise the traps.   

 Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for all your applications to fortify your defences.  

 If you receive requests to wire money, especially under pressure, always verify the authenticity before taking any action. 


3. The Work-from-Home Swindle 

Scammers masquerade as employers, enticing job seekers with promises of work-from-home positions.  

These positions are part of a larger scheme. The victims unwittingly facilitate the scam by performing tasks that aid the criminals. This can involve creating bank and payment processing accounts, transferring or withdrawing money, or cashing counterfeit checks. 

Verify the company’s name, email address, and phone number, and check for any past complaints about their behaviour or practices. Stick to legitimate job sites and trusted sources when searching for online opportunities. 


4. Love, deceit, and fraud 

Romance scams represent yet another sly tactic. The scammers create fictitious identities on dating websites, establishing emotional connections with unsuspecting individuals. Once trust is gained, victims unknowingly become money mules, facilitating the transfer of funds overseas or receiving cash from fraudulent wire transfers. 

Look out for suitors who avoid personal questions, profess love too quickly, divert conversations away from dating sites, make excuses for not meeting in person or joining video calls, claim to live or work abroad, boast picture-perfect profile photos, or spin sob stories about needing money for travel, medical expenses, visas, or documents. 


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Olivia Mitchell