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Report on identity fraud cases in West Africa

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By Abdulwasiu Usman

Fraudsters are actively exploring vulnerabilities in ID design.

Smile ID, the leading identity verification start up in West Africa, has released its 2024 Digital Identity Fraud in Africa Report, which highlights Nigeria and Ghana as the primary culprits of identity fraud in the region. This report revealed that the company reached a monumental achievement of conducting over 100 million identity checks across the continent. According to the report, the majority of fake documents are easy to identify due to inadequate security features, highlighting a noteworthy prevalence of forged identification documents. It shows that the abundant existence of fake IDs implies that fraudsters are actively looking into vulnerabilities in the design of such documents.

Examining progress in identity management across the continent, the report highlighted the escalating issue of identity fraud in Africa. This malicious practice burdens businesses with significant financial losses annually. The report emphasized the increasing importance of verifying identities to combat deception and illegal activities, particularly as online financial transactions and trade continue to thrive. It observed a contrast in Nigeria where physical documents are not as prevalent. However, the fraud rate of Ghanaian identification documents was found to be higher.

Multiple factors contribute to this alarming statistics.

As reported, the prime targets of identity theft in Nigeria are predominantly the National ID, which encounters a meager 0.1 percent occurrence but boasts an alarming 18 percent fraudulent activity. Similarly, the Voter ID faces a three percent occurrence with a 12 percent fraud rate. Notably, the Ghanaian Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) surpass others as the utmost fraudulent attempted rate of 20 percent. Despite this, it is important to mention that the SSNIT, a former identification document, is gradually being replaced by the more modern Ghana card. The newer card not only boasts enhanced security features but also offers a reduced risk of fraudulent activity.

It was revealed that within the East African region, the most targeted identification documents are national IDs, with Kenya’s ID taking the lead in terms of fraud rates. Multiple factors contribute to this alarming statistics, and among them is the persistent use of old-fashioned black and white paper images encased in plastic for national identification cards. The adoption of the recently introduced Huduma Namba cards has encountered a range of obstacles, starting with legal opposition questioning the methodology employed for data collection.

South Africa National ID record highest fraudulent attempts in 2023.

In this regard, Kenya’s present administration has made public its plans for increased investment and strengthening of existing ID systems in 2024. Smile ID disclosed that fraudsters with intentions to replicate IDs frequently target the Nigerian National Identity document. Amongst the countries examined, Nigeria’s ID holds the 9th position in Africa. The surge in security breaches targeted on National ID cards in African nations has been highlighted by the report. South Africa encountered the highest rate of fraudulent attempts on their National ID in 2023, standing the number one position with 34 percent.

Tanzania’s National ID system faced a significant threat with a staggering 32 percent of attempted fraud cases, which pushed it to the second most targeted position. Following closely, Kenya’s National ID stood third with a substantial 26 percent attempted fraud rate. Comparatively, Nigeria is positioned at ninth-place ranking with an 18 percent attempted fraud rate. In terms of preventing fraud, the report emphasized that although regulatory compliance is important, it should serve as a starting point rather than the main focus. It further recommended that businesses should surpass regulatory standards to ensure the integrity of their products.

Related Article: Regulating AI to curb fraud/identity theft

According to the data, there has been a steady rise in the rate of document and biometric fraud instances over six consecutive quarters from 2022 to 2023, reaching its highest point at 17% in the last quarter of 2023. Notably, various African companies have recently experienced cybersecurity breaches that can be traced back to these cases of identity fraud. Smile ID’s Identity Fraud report delves into the extensive range of tactics employed by fraudsters, deeply analyzing their patterns, as well as identifying geographical and sector-specific trends. Additionally, this comprehensive study offers invaluable guidance to businesses aiming to effectively counteract fraud throughout the continent.

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1 month ago

Report on identity fraud cases in West Africa.Fraudsters are actively exploring vulnerabilities in ID design.  – Express your point of view.

1 month ago

Summarise instances of identity theft throughout the African continent. The flaws in ID design are being extensively explored by fraudsters.Nigeria has a significant issue with identity fraud charges. There should be legal action taken against the numerous identity thieves who use people’s IDs to commit these crimes.

1 month ago

The fact that ID design flaws are being exploited by scammers is regrettable. Maintaining and enhancing the security mechanisms in place to safeguard people’s identities is crucial for governments and other relevant bodies.False identification is widely used, which suggests that con artists are actively searching for weaknesses in the documentation’s design.

Adeoye Adegoke
28 days ago

That’s concerning to hear about the increase in identity fraud cases in West Africa. It’s unfortunate that fraudsters are taking advantage of vulnerabilities in ID design to carry out their illegal activities.
Identity fraud can have severe consequences for individuals and society as a whole. It not only causes financial losses but can also damage people’s reputations and lead to a loss of trust in important systems. It’s crucial for governments and relevant authorities to prioritize the security and integrity of identity documents to protect citizens from these fraudulent activities.
Efforts should be made to enhance ID design and implement robust security measures that make it difficult for fraudsters to exploit vulnerabilities. This could include incorporating advanced technologies such as biometrics and encryption to ensure the authenticity and integrity of identification documents.
Additionally, raising awareness among the public about the risks of identity fraud and providing guidance on how to protect personal information can also be helpful in preventing these incidents.
It’s important for all stakeholders, including governments, law enforcement agencies, and individuals, to work together to combat identity fraud and safeguard the identities of West African citizens.