The Internet is a habitat for diverse creatures. While it is a melting pot of great ideas and innovations, it also habours criminals who are constantly on the prowl hunting for prey.
Some of the potent baits online predators use to defraud the unsuspecting public are loan schemes that mimic various intervention programmes of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other agencies.
For instance, the apex bank has multiple intervention loans crafted to help boost the economy via bankable entrepreneurship ideas.
Some of them are the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, Nigeria Youth Investment Fund and Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme, among others. They cut across various sectors of the economy.
So, what the cyber criminals do is to clone these sites and use them to scam greedy and ignorant people.
Victims have been ruined for life as the scammers bilked them of they’re worth.
Some of the survivors are literally living on ventilators at various hospitals’ intensive care units.
So, how can one distinguish authentic websites from fake ones?
Visit any commercial bank
You don’t have to own an account before you walk into any bank and request information on existing intervention programmes and determine the ones you can participate in. They will also determine your eligibility, furnish you with the terms and conditions and repayment plan. Any ambiguous area will be ground to granular details.
Call or send emails to banks or the CBN
If you can’t make it to any bank, call customer care numbers of banks and the CBN. It’s available on their official websites and Twitter handles.
Do noT give out any information about your bank account(s)
The first red flag to know you’re dealing with fake bank and CBN agents is when you’re prodded to produce your bank details, BVN, ATM card PIN or other sensitive details that may compromise your bank account, so that “we transfer the money to your account.”
Run away from such folks and never look back.
Banks and the CBN will not ask for such information because they already have it.
Besides, funding your account is the last item on the list, not the first. There are several hurdles to cross before getting to that point because the facilities are loans and not grants or cash gifts.
Do not use intermediaries
Except where a known intermediary is spotted, do the aforementioned yourself. Criminal gangs work in synergy.
The information on intervention programmes requires every potential beneficiary to tread softly. Clarify whatever you see online with your bank. Do not assume anything. There is no such thing as: “this should be correct/” Clarify it. Authenticate it.
If you know anyone or group scamming people by masquerading as banks or intervention agents, report to law enforcement. Scammers are financial vampires. They deserve no mercy. They are the people making the public wary of seeking lifelines to fatten their businesses or fund new ones ab initio.