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Government taskforce to tackle sharp rise in scams during pandemic

taskforce

Government taskforce to tackle sharp rise in scams during pandemic

A government taskforce is to meet on Thursday to discuss ways to tackle the sharp rise in scams that has hit the UK since the start of the pandemic.

Groups representing banks, telecoms companies and consumers will meet with the minister for security, Damien Hinds, to discuss measures to tackle online fraud, and increase public awareness.

The meeting comes after the scourge of scam texts and calls was laid bare by UK telecoms regulator research showing almost 45 million people received at least one in the last three months, while mobile network EE had to block 18,000 sim cards used for the fraud over that period.

The relaunch of the government’s Joint Fraud Taskforce is accompanied by new charters committing the sectors used by criminals to actions to protect people’s money.

These include measures to help victims of fraud get support, and a pilot dynamic direct debit system to authenticate applications for new mobile phone contracts.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, said she would “not tolerate criminals lining their pockets at the expense of law-abiding citizens”.

The announcement follows research by Ofcom that found 82% of adults had received a suspicious message during the summer, with most reporting that it had come via a text.

Landline calls continued to be a threat for older people, with 61% of over-75s saying they had received a potential scam call.

Scams have boomed since the start of the pandemic, with fraudsters capitalising on changing consumer habits over the period.

Texts and emails purporting to be from courier firms and messages offering access to Covid vaccines and passports have been among the tricks used by criminals to get hold of personal details.

Recently the trade body for banks, UK Finance, said £754m had been stolen from bank customers during the first half of this year. Readers of the Guardian have reported £1m worth of losses to us over the summer months.

The use of mobile phones in the frauds is underlined by figures from EE which show it has blocked 18,000 sim cards after detecting 42m scam text messages since July.

The firm, which is owned by BT, uses scanning technology to track down and block suspicious looking messages.

BT’s customer care change director, Christopher Howe, told the PA Media news agency that many of the sims that have been barred were on pay-as-you-go deals.

Rocio Concha, the director of policy and advocacy at the consumer group Which?, said Ofcom’s research showed that fraudsters were “relentless in their efforts to trick people into giving away their money and personal information”.

She added: “Businesses and the telecoms industry must do more to protect consumers, by making it harder for fraudsters to exploit systemic weaknesses to reach potential victims and by improving how they use telecommunications to reach their customers.”

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s networks and communications group director, said: “Criminals who defraud people using phone and text scams can cause huge distress and financial harm to their victims, and their tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

“Stay alert to any unsolicited contact. Put the phone down if you have any suspicion that it is a scam call, and don’t click on any links in text messages you’re unsure about.”

Ofcom said suspicious texts could be forwarded to 7726 and would be investigated by mobile phone providers, while scam calls could be reported to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.

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Bauchi pays N3.418bn in outstanding gratuities

The Bauchi State Pensions Board has announced that, from May 2019 to date, the state government has paid N3,418,288,11.68 in outstanding gratuities owed to retired civil servants.

The Chairman of the Board, Senator Bala Adamu Kariya, made the disclosure at the ongoing ministerial press briefing in Bauchi, held at the State Secretariat.

Although Senator Kariya did not specify the total gratuity backlog, he noted that it exceeds N20 billion.

He stated that since the inception of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in 2019, a total of 4,273 people have retired, and 677 have died while in service, out of 4,948 files processed.

“The Board processes the files of civil servants due for retirement. We are the custodians of the processed files of all state civil servants who have retired,” the chairman stated.

Senator Adamu, however, said that in order to avoid further accumulation of pension and gratuity liabilities, the state government intends to commence the implementation of the proposed contributory pension scheme on June 30, 2021.

“As a sign of commitment, His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, appointed a 20-member committee, including a staff member of Messrs Premium Pension Ltd for technical guidance under the chairmanship of Mr. Abdon Dalla Gin (Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters).”

“In line with the Terms of Reference to the Committee, a final report with a draft bill has been carefully produced, tapping from the 2004 Act, 2014 revised Act, and previous efforts of successive state administrations like the 2005 and 2017 draft bills, and was presented to His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, as appropriate.”

He recalled that Governor Bala Mohammed had presented the report to the State Executive Council for consideration and approval, following which a draft bill was forwarded to the State House of Assembly for further legislative process in line with the laid down constitutional procedure.

“After gathering the necessary stakeholders’ input, the State House of Assembly then ratified the draft and returned the same to the Executive Governor for assent. Consequently, on August 5, 2022, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, assented to the bill enacted by the State House of Assembly.”

“It was named the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme. The law also provided for the establishment of the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Commission.”

“The state governor approved the constitution of another high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, the Secretary to the State Government, to facilitate the full implementation process of the new scheme in the state.”

Kariya further explained that prior to this development, the state government appointed two firms of Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), who have now engaged stakeholders in a massive sensitization, advocacy, and enlightenment of the scheme across the state.

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Two-storey building collapses in Abuja

A two-storey residential building in Phase 2, site 2, Kubwa Abuja has collapsed

The building collapsed on Saturday morning at about 7:00am.

It was learnt that the building was formerly a hotel, Al-Hilal, but was converted to a residential apartment.

It was gathered that several people are currently trapped in the rubble.

As at time of filing this report, emergency responders and security personnel were at the scene.

 

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Police to enforce e-CMR compliance from July 29

The Nigeria Police Force have given all motor users 14 days to register their vehicles with the newly-introduced digitalized Central Motor Registration (e-CMR), which will end on July 29, to begin the enforcement of its compliance in order to checkmate the rate of vehicle-related crimes and other offenses.

In a press release, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, informed that the move is part of the efforts of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, to enhance the security of lives and property and significantly boost the nation’s safety.

The release further stated that the exercise is an advanced form of helping security agencies, mostly the Police Force, in their investigations and operational activities to combat vehicle-related crimes, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and other social vices.

It also stated that the introduction of the e-CMR digitalized system will help streamline the documentation and verification process for vehicle ownership and related transactions.

“Following the directives of the IGP, services such as change of ownership, change of license number, change of engine, and change of chassis/body would become seamless as the e-CMR system would ensure the validation of vehicle genuineness and ownership, enhancing the ability to track and recover stolen vehicles effectively, and preventing the purchase of stolen vehicles by innocent buyers.

“Prior to the enforcement itself, the IGP has ordered full publicity of the e-CMR and its enforcement to all members of the public, intimating them of the requirements, processes, and the enforcement procedures. Members of the public are urged to obtain the digitalized CMR certificate online at https://cmris.npf.gov.ng.

‘For further inquiries, individuals can contact the CMR Command Centre at FHQ Abuja (08117777666, 09169892000) and FHQ Annex Lagos (08117777555, 09169891000). Technical support is also available at cmftech@npfcmr.ng,” the release partly stated.

Following this new development, the Nigeria Police have enjoined members of the public to participate in the exercise by ensuring that all vehicle users comply with the new directive, maintaining that the initiative, which is in line with modern technology, remains a strategic approach to enhance public safety and national security.

ACP Adejobi further stated that the enforcement of the e-CMR is necessary to ensure a safer and more secure environment for vehicle ownership and to decimate the trend of vehicle theft by greatly reducing the possibility of selling stolen vehicles in the country.

“We therefore urge all vehicle owners and users to embrace and participate in this initiative promptly for optimum safety and security,” he stated.

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