Cyber Fraudsters Stole $19.8m In 2020

ACP Dr Gustav Herbert Yankson

It has emerged that a total of $19.8 million was lost to victims as a result of the activities of cyber fraudsters in the country in 2020.

Comparatively, in 2019, the total amount lost to the cyber criminals was $11 million.

The Cyber Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Ghana Police Service, said it had recovered a total of $101,000 from cyber fraudsters in the course of their investigations in 2020.

The Director in charge of the Cyber Crime Unit, ACP Dr. Gustav Herbert Yankson, who disclosed this to DAILY GUIDE, said six vehicles were retrieved in addition to three plots of lands from suspects who allegedly defrauded their victims using different cyber tricks.

He attributed the increase in the cyber crime cases to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had compelled more people to do more electronic transactions.

He revealed that among crimes reported at the unit last year included romance scam, investment scam, job scam, shopping scam, sex image compromise used for blackmailing and creation of fake social media accounts particularly on Facebook.

“The unit recorded an increase of 39% as compared to 2019. The increase is attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic where more people preferred doing online transactions to in-person transactions,” Dr. Yankson said, adding, “Most of the complainants were males and the most vulnerable age group was above 30 years.”

He said “the age groups of suspect are in their 20’s and mostly males. The most reported cases were related to cyber fraud, followed by sex image abuse and child pornography cases. Fake Facebook accounts that have been used to perpetrate crime ranked third,” adding, “Various forms of intrusion related to stealing cases came fourth; mobile money was, this time, allowed to stand alone and ranked fifth.”

He also said that “this year, issues related to Cyber Violence and E-Threats were quite high and ranked sixth and seventh respectively. Generally, other cases reported included charlatanic advertisements, IPR, denial of service, illegal sale of examination question, forgery of document, sale of pre-registered SIM cards and publication of false news amongst others.”

“The total amount lost was $19,800,000. The unit was able to recover about $101,000, six cars and three plots of land bought with proceeds of crime. The total number of arrest for 2019 was 135 and 241 in 2020,” adding that “the increase is as a result of the competence of the investigators who were trained by the US Embassy, Council of Europe, National Cyber Security Centre and AGA Africa among others.”

He said the increase in arrests could be attributed to “the establishment of the Child Protection Digital Forensic Laboratory,” adding “further the acquisition of tools and construction of the Digital Forensic Lab has also gone a long way to improve on our performance.”

“We are going to strengthen our collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre to ensure that everybody had an education on cyber crime to reduce the number of persons who fall victim to cyber fraudsters,” he said.

By Linda Tenyah-Ayettey