Combatting cybercrime: 2024 election in perspective

Ghana, as developing country, is getting interconnected than ever before.

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However, for all the advantages that social media, online transactions and the entire digital space have brought us, they have significantly increased online theft, fraud and Internet extortion. 

Cyber attackers, best known as scammers, use every little opportunity to obtain money from people.

The 2024 election will not be an exception.

As we approach it, many fraudsters may engage in several cybercrimes to obtain money from victims. 

Brand, personal impersonation

Scammers may impersonate brands of major political parties offering flashy opportunities in exchange of money.

Some scammers may even communicate their deceptive information on similar letterheads of political organisations and businesses. 

Netizens should not fall prey to these tricks.

 Kindly confirm with appropriate offices before acting on any opportunity online.

During national elections, scammers may impersonate as leaders and executives of political parties by creating parody accounts on social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

They may private-chat individuals demanding money in exchange for juicy promises.

Netizens are advised to activate the two-factor authentication system of WhatsApp to prevent scammers from taking over their accounts.

Fraudsters may use your account to solicit for money from people in your contact list, unknown to you.

As much as possible, a strange request from relatives or friends on WhatsApp should be confirmed by a phone call.

The above actions of fraudsters amount to defrauding by false pretence contrary to Section 131 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) attracting a term of imprisonment of not more than 25 years.

See Section 296(5) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1960 (Act 30).

The punishment for these cybercrimes is heftier for culprits who are employed in the public service.

A person who is a public officer and has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years or more forfeits his employment (Section 298(1) of Criminal Procedure Act, 1960 (Act 30). 

Tackling menace

The Ghana Police Service must petition social media service providers such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., to scrutinise all accounts held by political party leaders.

This scrutiny should be aimed at verifying the actual accounts of political figures and blocking all other fake accounts.

A similar exercise in Thailand threatened Facebook with suits and a shutdown of the meta-app nationwide over scammers allegedly exploiting the social networking site to cheat local users out of tens of millions of dollars yearly. https://www.voanews.com/a/thailand-threatens-facebook-shutdown-over-scam-ads/7242324.html).

The government should establish avenues to educate and train cyber security experts.

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The trainees should not be necessarily security personnel, but people who are computer experts from the various fields of Computer Science in niversities. 

In the US, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), was established to train technological experts in diverse areas including cyber security; it develops cybersecurity standards, guidelines, best practices, and other resources to meet the needs of U.S. industry, federal agencies and the broader public.

Similar institutions must be established or incorporated into our space, while practical cyber security training courses must be rolled out in our traditional universities.

As individuals, we owe ourselves a duty not to fall prey to scammers. We must be vigilant of the ways of scammers.

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When in doubt “The Cyber Security Authority of Ghana (CSA) has a 24-hour Cybersecurity/Cybercrime Incident Reporting Points of Contact (PoC) for reporting cybercrimes and for seeking clarification and guidance on online links and transactions.

The writer is a student,
Ghana School of Law; cyber security expert.
E-mail: [email protected]

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