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Visions of the Alfa Talakawa, from the Proletariat...Nigeria, as I see it

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LETTERS FROM JERUSALEM



Honestly, I am fed up of getting angry at those stereotyping Nigerians as scammers.


Now, let’s talk, Talakawa, let’s talk, and when we’re done talking, should your ‘up-before-the-cock-crows-hop-into-my-work clothes-hard-earned’ cash go into the hands of scammers, ‘imma whup your butt real bad!!!’


Three hundred grand got moved from a friend’s account, and it hurts so bad.


The Robin Hood theory is beginning to nauseate real bad. I could understand Charles Davis Jr. (Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets)’s passion when he robbed the KKK to assist fellow revolutionaries (even though I have serious issues with two wrongs making a right), what I will never understand is the silly ‘reparation-by-fraud’ doctrine.


My reasons are clear, and I will illustrate with this: when the former-CBN-Governor-turned-Guber-Aspirant’s father was kidnapped, I felt sorry for the people of Anambra State, in particular if the ransom got paid. I hereby submit that the ransom is Anambra’s coffers ‘Cash-Advance’ in the event of the subject’s emergence as the Governor of the State.


The dilemma of the 21st Century Robin Hood is that when he robs the rich, the rich go out to re-rob the poor!

With sufficient whistle blowing, Letters from Jerusalem (the ancestor of the Nigerian Letter) and all cognate forms are beginning to lose popularity, people hardly reply those fraudulent mails, and so, the Con Man went back to the drawing board.


Electronic mails and Short Message Service (SMS) messages notifying prospective dumbos about lotteries-they-never-played-but-won and somehow, people parted with call-credit recharge vouchers among many other things; even in the dictionary, greed precedes gullibility!


Alas! Like the late Christopher Wallace (BIG) would have said, “Things done changed”. The game has moved up another notch and you don’t need to be a simpleton to qualify.


The Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards got compromised sometime last year and people started receiving alerts of ‘unsolicited withdrawals’ on their behalf. Some lodged complaints at the banks; I even have a friend who, while lodging the complaint, his ATM card in hand, the withdrawals continued right before the Customer Care staff! I personally do not think the friend in question has the gift of telekinesis; and if he did, his ATM card, to the best of my knowledge is not operated remotely, so, what really went down?


The ATM card has a magnetic stripe which contains routing data only. All personal information is encrypted through Triple DES (Data Encryption Standard) which is near impossible to crack; BUT that magnetic stripe data can be copied and used to print out duplicate cards and with the availability of cheap spy cameras, your PIN can be read!


I have seen people leave their ATM receipts behind, thinking it is of no use; just how dumb do we want to be? The debit card details are obviously on the slips for goodness sake!


I am trying hard to keep my manners here; ATTENTION SHOPPING FREAKS! You sure feel good swiping your cards over those P.O.S (Point of Sale) terminals, and you quickly punch your PIN and then, your account seems inaccessible, then you use another P.O.S. terminal and then it works, and you heave a sigh of relief. Can I scare you for a minute? What if you just punched over a card-reader? You think it is impossible? Go on and search!


What beats me is the seeming failure of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to put a check on these activities. I know you’d say they are not magicians, I am not asking them to flip any wand either. What baffles me is why, in spite of the fact that these machines have cameras that take pictures (which has come in handy in resolving some cases), pictures of these ‘unsolicited withdrawers’ have not made centre-spread of Newspapers, IDEAS, ANYONE???!!!


Now you can all breathe easy. No one needs to come after your cards anymore. Thanks to Phishing (pronounced fishing) and e-mail spoofing, a mail can come straight into your inbox allegedly from your bank, using your bank’s actual e-mail ID!


Here is an example (I have edited the link so you would not end up clicking the URL and ruin things for me):


Dear customer,

During our regularly scheduled account maintenance and verification procedures, we have detected a slight error in your account information.

This might be due to either of the following reasons:

1. A recent change in your personal information (i.e. change of address).
2. Submitting invalid information during the initial sign up process.
3. An inability to accurately verify your selected option of payment due to an internal error within our automated teller machine (ATM) processors.

Please update and verify your information by clicking the link below:

https://ebank.iremovedthenameofthebankforobviousreasons.com/netbanking/

If your account information is not updated within 48 hours then your ability to access your account will become restricted.

Note: Username (Account Number) and Password are numeric. Refer to your e-banking signup form.

Thank you

· Please do not respond to this email as your reply will not be received.


The irony of it all is that the URL is https, which is supposed to be secure! My friend followed a link like this and he was led to a well designed web-portal that even looks more authentic than the cheap versions the banks have themselves. He entered his details, and Bingo! He had sold his account’s soul to hell-hole! In less than 24hrs, he was 300 grand (in Naira) poorer than the previous day!


Verve cards which are meant to be more secure are taking over from the magnetic-strip based ATM cards, people are getting more careful about giving information online, and if you are still careless enough to use cyber-cafes and you don’t clear your browsing history and delete all cookies, the cookies will morph into dookie on your plate!


Backtrack to Sweden, January 2008.


A bank employee noticed that the mouse pointer on his system was moving by it self. He then quickly looked behind the computer and finally found under his desk a hidden device that was connected to the computer to remotely control his computer. Pulling the cables stopped a transfer of several million Swedish Kronor!


Nigerians did not notice, sorry, the average Nigerian did not notice. November 2009, Ekerette Esennubong Obot, Kayode Ogunmolade, Dele Ige, and Olanrewaju Ipaye were arrested following a tip-off from a bank official. The official was approached to help connect a particular hardware: Key Loggers


You heard that before? This is what it does:


It tracks the keys struck on a keyboard, typically in a covert manner so that the person using the keyboard is unaware that their actions are being monitored! Those boys came with hardware, but there are software versions of it that can be installed on your computer, even without your direct permission.


The scammers may use spam emails with attachment, pop-up ads, applications with malicious codes, free gaming and porn sites. The scammer may lure you to click the acceptance button of any so-called free software in order to let his logger creep into your system and start spying. The user will never know that something is settling on his system as the loggers are generally hidden and are usually considered safe by antivirus software applications and firewalls.


Key loggers have certain options like the hide-mode, where no icon is visible in the applications list. They can rename any executable file and change registry entries.


Do I need to say more? All you Bluetooth activators in ‘free-trade zones’…. DO I REALLY NEED TO TELL YOU ANYTHING ELSE?