Thursday, October 5, 2023

About 40% of Batswana hit by online scams – report

An estimated one in every three Batswana have fallen for an online scam at least once – a survey has revealed.

Cybersecurity awareness platform KnowBe4 in June this year conducted a survey of online fraud in Morocco, South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, and Mauritius. The findings report published on September 11 revealed that 40% from a sample of 800 respondents had fallen for an online scam at least once, regardless of the type.

Of these victims, 48% said they had already been victims of a financial scam. Other common online scams include fake investments (30%), crypto-currencies and non-fungible tokens (29%), brand identity theft (28%), information theft (24%), online shopping (21%) and fake job offers (21%).

Less frequent frauds include the classic Nigerian scam, impersonating a family member or friend, law enforcement impersonation, vacation fraud, sextortion, and lotto fraud.

The survey report states that, “to succeed in their crimes and get victims’ attention, fraudsters most of the time use emotional approaches through various means. In 24% of cases, they prefer using e-mails to get in contact with their victims. Social networks came second (19%), followed by instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp (10%) and Telegram (8%). Malicious ads, traditional phone calls, fake websites, and SMS are also among the means used by web scammers to approach their victims.

Significant psychological impact

The “2023 Online Scams in Africa” report also reveals that scammers often use smarter techniques to create a relationship of trust with their victims and easily trick them. These include making a fake website look real, sending messages that appeal to emotions, using social media profiles that appear authentic, and avoiding spelling or grammatical errors. “Of those who were successfully scammed, 53% were convinced the offer was legitimate because the website looked real,” the report said.

The KnowBe4 survey shows that solutions such as firewalls and anti-malware software do not provide 100% protection to their users since they do not take emotions and state of mind into account. While 43% of the victims said they were distracted and multitasking when they fell for the scam, 20% were working, 18% were relaxed and happy, almost 14% were tired, 6% were traveling and almost 6% were hungry.

When asked how much money they had lost through this scam, 38% said less than $100, 28% between $100 and $1,000, and 8% said more than $1,000. Although losing money is already a major consequence of online money scams, KnowBe4 says it is sometimes nothing compared to the psychological impact. More than half (53%) of respondents felt a significant or very significant impact and 18% felt a somewhat significant psychological impact.


Read this week's paper