Unlike the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, in whose name some unknown fraudsters have created no fewer than 40 Facebook and Twitter accounts; the Chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Ayoola Otudeko, has raised the alarm over the activities of online impersonators.
Just two days after an impostor opened a Facebook account in his name, Otudeko, through the management of the company he chairs, quickly issued a disclaimer which dissociated him from the bogus social media account.
The impostor on Facebook tried to make it seem as if the false account is being operated by Otudeko himself.
For example, the fraudster has uploaded several pictures showing the businessman and many of his associates on the Facebook account. The scammer created a special album titled “Oba Ayoola’s Photos”. The album comprises various photographs of Otudeko posing with some state governors, chief executive officers of commercial banks and other financial institutions, serving and past Nigerian diplomatic officers and expatriates, among many other popular Nigerians.
Although it is difficult to tell how many people have been duped by the fraudster since the account was opened, Otudeko has warned that the scheme is “fictitious.”
In the disclaimer published in some national newspapers, Otudeko urged Nigerians, especially the social media-savvy ones, not to be swayed by the antics of the impostor.
He said emphatically that he had yet to sign on to any social networking site.
The disclaimer read, “We hereby inform the general public that the Facebook account in the name of ‘Oba Ayoola Otudeko’ is fictitious and the handwork of fraudsters. We wish to state that Otudeko has never opened a Facebook account and he is also not subscribed to any social media platform.
“The impersonating Facebook account has been fraudulently opened to deceive unsuspecting members of the public. We hereby warn the public not to associate or have any dealings with this fraudulent Facebook account.”
But identity thieves currently on the prowl have not spared President Goodluck Jonathan their nefarious activities.
But online impersonators and administrators of parody accounts on social media, especially Twitter, may be forced to throw in the towel or risk a jail term.
The cyber crime bill 2013, which is before the House of Representatives, frowns on the act of creating a webpage or social media account using another person’s identity.
Part 3, Section 13 of the bill titled “A bill for an act to provide for the prohibition, prevention, detection, response and prosecution of cyber-crimes and for other related matters, 2013” prescribes a jail term of three years for those found culpable of identity theft and impersonation, when the law eventually comes into place.
The bill, according to its sponsors, is meant to provide an “effective and unified legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria.”
The bill, when signed into law, seeks to punish any person who, in the course of using a computer, computer system or network, obtains or possesses another person’s or entity’s identity information with the intent to deceive or defraud.
It reads, “Any person who fraudulently impersonates another entity or person, living or dead, with intent to gain advantage for himself or another person; obtain any property or an interest in any property; cause disadvantage to the entity or person being impersonated or another person; or avoid arrest or prosecution or to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice, commits an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or a fine of not less than N7,000,000 or to both fine and imprisonment.”
Besides, hackers who break into and gain unauthorised access into people’s computers and networks with the use of “computer passwords, access codes or similar data” for the purpose of committing fraud also face the risk of three years imprisonment.
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