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22.01.2007 General News

Enact Laws To Check Cyber Fraud — Sarpong

22.01.2007 LISTEN
By Daily Graphic

The Chief Executive Officer of Africa Online, Mr Ato Sarpong, has called for the enactment of laws on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to curb the growing incident of cyber fraud in the country.

He said the lack of laws on cyber crime had made it very difficult for the law enforcement agencies to prosecute those who perpetrated fraud through the Internet.

Mr Sarpong said the 2005 global statistics indicated that $180 billion was lost to Nigerians by Americans, while credit card fraud formed 24 per cent of all online fraud, adding that average loss per complainant was $12,000.

Addressing journalists and police officers at a two-day seminar organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), in collaboration with the British High Commission, at Dodowa over the weekend, he regretted that Ghana had now been classified as a rising star for online fraud.

The workshop was on the theme, “The Role of the Media in Combating Organised Crime”.

He said Nigeria had long been known to be the main star for online fraud and noted that it was regrettable that Ghana was now following as a rising star, explaining that something ought to be done to save the image of the country, since most of the crimes were being perpetrated by foreign nationals living in the country.

Mr Sarpong mentioned auctions, general purchases, lottery and money transfer to Nigeria as the top four scams in the world now.

He said e-commerce transactions from Ghana were recognised world-wide as scams and that in March 2005 Ghana was blocked from using credit card for payments.

Mr Sarpong said most of the credit card frauds originated from hotel payments where workers copied the numbers of customers and used them to purchase items on the Internet.

He said the fastest growing and most expensive scams in the world now concerned money transfer in Nigeria. He urged the press to make people aware of the growing incidence of cyber crimes through educational write-ups and advised individuals to ignore e-mails soliciting transfer facilities, adding that “people should not reap where they had not sown”.

He said the association of Internet Service Providers in the country had resolved to be proactive in dealing with Internet fraud.

Mr Sarpong said there was the need to establish a Cyber Crime Unit at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Police Service with all the powers to check Internet fraud, saying, “Fighting any crime is a collective responsibility and all stakeholders must get involved.”

On his part, Supt Vance B. Gariba of the CID said in order to investigate high technology crime, one must understand both technology and the modus operandi of the offenders.

He said there were major issues affecting high technology crime investigations, as well as prosecutions, and that cyber space was very difficult for the police to define the jurisdiction of the crime.

Supt Gariba indicated that there was the need for a central reference point for the collation and dissemination of relevant and timely information, adding that “the reference point should be the one to which companies can report in confidence”.

The Director-General of the CID, Mr David Asante-Apeatu, called for an organised crime strategy which would focus on reducing the threat and impact of organised crime in the country.

He said organised crime posed a serious threat to Ghanaian institutions, society, the economy and the quality of life of the people and so all efforts must be made to reduce it to the barest minimum.

Mr Asante-Apeatu was delivering a paper on, “Challenges of Organised Crime Combat in Ghana”. He said in countering the growth of those groups and dismantling or disrupting their structures and sub groups, a critical component was improved co-ordination, sharing and use of criminal intelligence.

“This information is used in support of integrated policing, law enforcement plans and strategies, as well as initiatives designed to communicate the impact and scope of organised crime,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Patrick Timbilla, the Chief Staff Officer of the Ghana Police Service, said combating organised crime was not the prerogative of the police alone but that it required the co-operation of all stakeholders.

He said crime started locally but had global effects and indicated that the United Kingdom alone had 930 organised crime groups, while in West Africa large groups were made up mainly of Nigerians and Ghanaians.

ACP Timbilla said crime used to be an emerging threat but now it was real and transcended borders, with the advancement of the world, which had now become a global village.

He said although armed robbery topped the crime statistics in Ghana, it had no international flavour like the drug menace but it was being perpetrated mostly by foreigners who came in to attack and returned to their countries.

“Crime is an issue for all of us and all hands must be on deck, with the police playing a leading role and the media also playing a crucial role as partners in the fight,” he said.

Closing the workshop, Mr Ransford Tetteh, the President of the GJA, expressed the hope that the workshop would help the media and the police to mend fences for improved relations in future.

He thanked the British High Commission for providing support for the GJA to create a platform to find solutions to the frosty relations between the media and the police.

Story by Mary Mensah,

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