House of Reps to investigate SIM Swap fraud, adopts Ibezi's motion

Following a motion moved by Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Anthony Ibezi on the incessant rise of SIM swap fraud in Nigeria, the House of Representatives on Thursday, July 25, 2019 resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to conduct an investigative hearing into the growing trend of SIM swap fraud in the country.

Presenting the motion, which was supported by Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, the member representing Owan Federal Constituency, Hon. Ibezi recalled that in 2012, the Central Bank had introduced the cashless policy, an initiative which reduced the amount of physical cash involved in business transaction and encouraged the use of electronic platforms for payment of goods and services. He noted that despite the numerous advantages of electronic transactions, some drawbacks are manifesting in the form of Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) swap fraud. This occurs, he said, when a fraudster steals someone’s personal information, mainly from the Internet and uses it to request for a new SIM card from the victim’s network provider, effectively cloning that person’s identity. 

Hon. Ibezi also noted that as soon as the network provider issues the new SIM card with the same number of the person whose identity was stolen, that person’s network signal will disappear from his original line which he would still have in his possession. As the confused victim will be battling to restore his or her line, the fraudster will immediately set to work by diverting any incoming SMS and completing the text-based two-factor authentication checks that protects the owner’s most sensitive accounts in financial services, social networks, webmail services and instant messages. This type of fraud, he observed, is now used to steal money from people’s bank accounts and simulate emergencies to solicit money from victims’ contacts. He recalled the pathetic story of one Sawari Bolanle, a young mother who was a victim of this new fraud as reported by The Guardian newspaper of July 01, 2019.

Given the widespread incidences of this new tech fraud, the House of Representatives through a unanimous voice vote adopted the motion and resolved to set up an Ad hoc committee to conduct an investigative hearing into the trend. The committee has six weeks to report back to the house for further legislative action.

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