Friday, December 2, 2022

Nigeria’s Online Loan Sharks -By Kene Obiezu

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The harder things get in Nigeria, the more desperate people become to make it  especially  as the signs are that  the immediate future is not looking up.

 Nigeria`s grim economic situation which continues to feed families into the shredder of  poverty and economic ruination everyday  has led to the proliferation of many so-called financial experts, advisors and whatever else they choose to be called. But what is clear from the operations of many of them is that they are thieves who have been able to package their criminal tendencies just a little bit better.

 With the cyberworld continuing to provide limitless possibilities which limitless possibilities include limitless access to people including the gullible and the impressionable, cybercriminals have been having a swell time, freely milking people of their hard earned money and resting only to resume the process again.

 Their methods are many and diverse. At their behest, frivolous loan apps now flood the cyber space. Their bogus offerings to those who are truly desperate or just plain greedy usually works like a perfectly baited hook to pull the fish out of water and into captivity.

 Once they give out these loans, they often embark on a worrying range of methods to recover same. They do all manner of things to achieve this including sending all manner of defamatory messages to the contacts of those who they brand their debtors.

 Because in the process of accessing these loans which are often no more than  traps, those who front these frivolous loan applications   access confidential information of those they soon bring under their control. Very often, even when these loans are paid back as at when due, because they already have these information, they put it same to whatever nefarious  use they may.

 For a long time now, catching and prosecuting those who do these things has been made especially difficult by the fact that they are often faceless and nameless, hiding behind the vast screen of the cyberspace to perpetrate fraud and  push many people over the edge.

 With the multiple offences they commit at a stretch which includes  multiple breaches of data privacy, it can then only be good news that the National Data Protection Bureau(NDPB) recently disclosed that it is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission(ICPC),the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC),the Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC) and other agencies of  government to investigate the activities of online financial loan companies  that are currently  defrauding vulnerable Nigerians using  certain applications.

 There is no doubt that the time for this kind of action has well and truly come. Nigeria has unfortunately become a haven for crime and criminals in the last few years. The Giant of Africa has become a sort of laboratory where criminals come to experiment with newly invented crimes and test their hypotheses.

 As many of these online loan sharks are without physical addresses, apprehending those behind them may prove difficult but not impossible. If the challenge is treated with the urgency it deserves, they will be reined in so that Nigerians can feel just a tad safer in their own country.

 Kene Obiezu,

[email protected]

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