Frank Mugabi, the Head of Communication Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development says that although those affected by the lockdown are in dire need of help, they should wait for official arrangements of government rather than falling victims to opportunists or any other cyber scammers.
Labor and Social Development Ministry, has raised a red flag over unscrupulous
individuals inviting people to register for the government COVID-19 grant. The scammers
are using a web-based link, which went viral on different social media
platforms shortly after the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja announced government’s
proposal to distribute cash to vulnerable people affected by the second lockdown.
Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development has distanced itself from the
said scheme. “Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development has noted with
concern a web-based link circulating in different social media platforms
calling on them to register for the “Government COVID-19 support grant….. This
notice serves to caution the general public against this scheme,” reads a
notice from the Ministry issued on Tuesday morning.
Frank Mugabi, the Head of Communication Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development says that although those
affected by the lockdown are in dire need of help, they should wait for
official arrangements of government rather than falling victims to opportunists
or any other cyber scammers.
national sectorial covid19 task force chaired by Rt. Hon Prime Minister
finalizing the process of identification of categories of persons that will be
considered for government support and will soon advise the public accordingly,”
a public notice shared by Mugabi reads in part.
obtained by URN shows that the website might be based in Nigeria and a
duplicate of the Coalition against COVID-19, a private sector-led organization
established to assist the Nigerian government to combat the pandemic. On opening the link, the user is asked to
answer three questions before he is directed to forward the link to fifteen other
people to get a withdrawal code.
“You may get the support fund with
only one step, kindly click the "Invite Friends/Group" button below
to share this information with 15 friends or 5 groups on WhatsApp so that they
can also (also) Benefit,” reads the message on the website.
forwarded message also indicates that the applicant can get the money within 24
hours. On the website, there is also a dead link of people who claim to have
benefited from the program. Henry Tumwesigye is one of the people who applied
for the money after receiving the link. He says that the link appeared genuine
with people confirming to have benefited from the program.
//Cue in: “I have applied...
Cue out...still confusing me,”//
Dr. Sara Namusoga, an Information Technology-IT expert notes that although
people might not be conned directly they are innocently used to generate
traffic for the website as they invite more people to visit it. “The
clicks or visits on this website generate revenue for the owners through Google
adverts. When a website has a lot of traffic, it is given more adverts, which
later becomes monitory for its owner,” the expert explained.
Dr. Namusoga also noted that there is another possibility of selling the data
provided to the website to advertisers and other interested parties. “During
the application for the said COVID-19 grant, the provided link might be
embedded with malware that can be used to harvest people’s data for instance
telephone numbers. These numbers are at times used for cold calling or
messaging and that is why at times we receive unsolicited calls or messages
from advertisers,” she added and warning people from opening such links or even
forwarding them to others.