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Mobile fraud could cost Africa over US$5bn this year

Africa’s mobile fraud losses will continue to rise above last year’s US$4-billion to peak at a record US$5-billion by the end of 2021 if nothing is done to prevent global cybercriminals from looting the continent’s wealth in a new, virtual ‘scramble for Africa’.

That’s according to Paris-based anti-fraud campaigner David Lotfi, CEO of Evina. “In Africa, we have the perfect storm of a youthful population using almost a billion mobile money accounts coupled with the Coronavirus-related one-third increase in Internet traffic,” he says.

Evina asserts that professional cybercriminals from around the world are costing Africa billions every year that could be spent on infrastructure and social services.

In November 2020 the company identified the top five African and Middle Eastern countries where mobile fraud is most prevalent as Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, Jordan and Oman.

The percentage of mobile-based billing transactions in each country that have been identified as suspect by Evina’s network of fraud sensors are 51%, 30%, 20%, 18% and 10%, respectively.

Lotfi explains that mobile payment is being impacted by two primary forms of mobile fraud.

“Today clickjacking and malicious app are the two most common forms of mobile fraud. Through the clickjacking technique, a fraudster intercepts a legitimate click and unknowingly directs the user to a website where sensitive financial and other details can be stolen. Malicious apps are trickier, these apps have been injected with malware during a disguised app update or right from the start when the user unwittingly downloads the app from the app store, with the same purpose of defrauding the user.”

Evina claims that in the Middle Eastern and African regions the fraud rate is at 27% and of these fraudulent attacks, 60% are clickjacking and 19% are malicious apps.

While embedding malware in malicious apps can be a more refined fraudulent technique, clickjacking is a very basic type of fraud that has been around for at least five years and mostly eradicated in large parts of the mobile world, the company adds.

“It’s easy to combat and there really is no excuse for the fact that one in three mobile subscriptions in South Africa, for example, is fraudulent. Evina has repeatedly communicated the fact that the fraudsters who continue to loot Africa’s wealth can be beaten with the right tools that we already use to protect millions of mobile transactions worldwide every day.”

Evina says it protects up to 90% of mobile transaction activities in Ivory Coast, Morocco and Senegal, and also secures traffic in Mali, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Botswana, Angola and all countries in the Middle East including Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.

“Africa is a strategic region of huge importance to Evina and the greater mobile industry because this is where strong double-digit growth is coming from. We cannot allow mobile fraudsters to gain a beachhead on this pivotal continent key to the future fortunes of so many telcos, aggregators and digital merchants,” Lotfi continues.

“Evina has already taken on mobile fraudsters in other markets and contributed to a dramatic drop in fraud in those markets. African firms need to act now if they want to ensure the future of the continent's entire mobile content and applications market.”

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