The figure excludes cybercrime-related cases investigated in other police jurisdictions across the country.
Over the past five years, $ 239,609,224.01 million has been stolen by cyberpunks as part of numerous schemes, with 2018 recording the highest amount of $ 105 million.
The director of the Cybercrime Unit, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (ACP), Dr Herbert Gustav Yankson, revealed this in an exclusive interview with the author.
Increasingly, cybercriminals are exploiting the vulnerabilities of their targets due to the speed and anonymity within cyberspace.
In Ghana, cyber fraud is the most common type of crime in cyberspace; monitoring of sexual image abuse; and various forms of intrusion ranking third. Let’s discuss a few types in order to guard against prevalence.
Police may be doing their best to tackle cybercrime, with the exception of some dazzling challenges mentioned in this article.
First classification: cyber fraud
ACP / Dr Yankson cites the six most reported cyber fraud cases in Ghana, namely romance fraud, investment fraud, mobile money fraud, phishing and shopping scams over the years. last five years.
• Romantic fraud
Many people have fallen victim to this type of cyber fraud. In this type, cyber crooks hunt down vulnerable people, mostly women, with the intention of blackmailing them. They make social media contacts that become intimate along the line and promise marriage. Victims are convinced to send nude photos of themselves which are then used to demand money, with threats to post photos if requests are not met.
• Investment fraud
In the past, foreign investors who sought to explore business opportunities in Ghana were primarily targeted. However, the trend has spread to local investors.
Basically, it involves the use of deceptive practices to trick investors into making reckless decisions in areas such as gold, cocoa, real estate, sales and the like resulting in huge investment losses. Many times the returns look attractive with little to no risk, an indicator of potential danger. Police would advise the public to beware of investment arguments that guarantee incredible returns over short periods of time and to ignore undue pressure to make financial commitments.
• Mobile money fraud
It involves stealing money from people’s mobile money accounts through deception. This has become mainstream mainly due to the speed of transactions, huge sponsorship, susceptible victims, and changing scam dynamics in the mobile money space. Given the shortcoming of failing control systems, police would advise heightened vigilance, being wary of everything, and interviewing prospects carefully before transferring money or committing.
Phishing occurs when crooks trick you into providing private information for fraudulent purposes, such as your bank details, passwords, and credit cards.
• Shopping scams
This type of fraud has become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions. During this period, many people were shopping online by e-payment, which required delivery of their items but it turns out to be a sham.
• Blocked passenger
Blocked passenger occurs when cyber crooks take control of your email and send spoofed messages claiming to be from known contacts of their targeted victims. Convincing messages mainly indicate that they are stranded in other countries and that they need urgent financial support. The communication ends when the money is received.
2nd classification: abuse or extortion of images of a sexual nature
• Abuse of sexual image
Within the framework of sexual image abuse, a number of varieties are used. Sexual extortion (sextortion), posting of obscene material and child pornography are all forms of sexual image abuse. Sextortion refers to the use of sexual images to blackmail people. This is quite common among bitter marriages, student-teacher relationships, internet-based relationships, people in positions of trust, etc. In each of these relationships, one person has a “hidden, continued intention” to acquire sexually compromising images of the other for future exploitation. It can be monetary or in kind.
• Publication of obscene material
This is when we indiscriminately or deliberately post sexual images of people for fun. The publisher may not necessarily do it with the intention of extorting money or a favor as in the case of sextortion, but they are satisfied with themselves in doing so.
• Child pornography
This type of crime involves anything sexually explicit with children. This is not limited to its publication, but the mere possession of sexually explicit images of a child over the telephone constitutes a crime. One wonders if it constitutes a crime if the nude photos are those of his own child. Well, the law does not differentiate such indecent images, but in any criminal intent the intent to possess may possibly exonerate you.
3rd Ranking: intrusion
Intrusion as a third category occurs when criminals attack their targets’ digital and network systems without authorization, with the aim of stealing valuable network resources or data. The example is hacking and data breaches.
Cyber threats continue to evolve rapidly, making its fight quite complicated. Challenges such as inadequate training, contemporary technology to compete with increasing complexities, vast internet space, jurisdictional issues and public susceptibility face its struggle.
Like all disciplines, cybercrime-related crimes require technical capabilities to deal with growing contemporary threats. Cybercrime investigators, for example, need key skill sets to identify and understand the complex cyber environment in order to decisively deal with cases under investigation. This requires ongoing continuing education to make them useful, which is often lacking.
Strong public exposure
Police face a high level of public vulnerability in cyberspace. More importantly, the police need not only technical hands, but also soft skills to clearly articulate complex concepts to a wide range of heterogeneous audiences who lack the technical knowledge to create the awareness needed to reduce risk, but this is absent, which compounds the challenge.
The world of technology is growing and changing very rapidly and, therefore, is expensive to fight. Cybercrime technology is not available or is outdated, making tracing cases very difficult and expensive.
Delays in informing external counterparts
Due to the borderless nature of cybercrime crimes, crimes committed in cyberspace sometimes require effective collaboration with relevant regional and global partners for rapid sharing of information and evidence; this is not easy to achieve, making it difficult to arrest perpetrators of cybercrime in real time.
All of this and more are preventing the Ghana Police Service from effectively tackling cybercrime.
The author is in the public affairs department of the police, Volta region.