1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The invention of the Internet is seen as a pivotal innovation since it has fueled several advancements throughout the world, including globalization. This has benefitted people all across the world, especially Africa (Yar, 2013). The internet has become one of the most significant technical advancements. While largely recognized for its convenience and effectiveness, it is also riddled with a slew of flaws that pose substantial security risks to users and have resulted in the rise of fraud. Dennis, (2014) stated that the widespread use of the internet as a medium for fraudulent acts, known as “Internet fraud,” is a criminal action committed primarily for the goal of exploiting others. It is a multidimensional and inherently complex problem. Accoding to Yar (2013), Online intellectual property theft, identity theft, phishing, page jacking, advance fee scams, bad check scams, phony money orders, wire transfer fraud, anonymous servers, hijacked emails, and fake websites have all been used as tools and mediums for fraud by criminals. Over the last decade, the reputation of Nigeria and Nigerians has suffered greatly as internet scams and fraud have taken on increasingly scary and terrifying dimensions (Antons, 2011).
Online fraud ruins a country’s reputation, making the business climate difficult for start-ups and small and medium-sized organizations, and deterring foreign investment in the economy. Individuals lose money resources, intellectual property, or personal sensitive information as a result of cybercrime, and the consequences can be severe, especially targeting senior persons and the weak. In the United States in 2018, around 62,000 persons aged 60 and up reported losses totalling more than $649 million and it was mostly Nigerians that were indicted.
Nigeria’s image has always suffered as a result. It has been severely damaged both inside and outside (Olusola, Samson, Semiu, & Yinka, 2013). Though online fraud is a worldwide epidemic, each nations experience the impacts differently based on the laws in place to address the situation, as well as the effectiveness of their law enforcement and crime prevention organizations in combating the menace. The situation has deteriorated to the point that many secondary school leavers, students, and graduates are turning to cybercrime as a means of achieving success. This has had a significant impact on the country’s image. There are several reports of Nigerians being mistreated upon arriving in foreign nations. A typical Nigerian is a suspected fraudster.
Nigerians are active in cross-border scamming via ICT and written letters, which is why, with the birth of the internet, Nigerians are probably incorrectly considered as the progenitors of most online scams due to how notorious inhabitants of the nation got in the act all over the globe (Whitty, & Buchanan, 2012). The Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved in the investigation of online fraud, and the “Nigerian letter or 419 fraud,” as stated on their website (www.fbi.gov), is a significant target owing to its reputation. The term “419” refers to the part of the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals with fraud. This sort of scam is also referred to as advance-fee fraud (Olusola, Samson, Semiu, & Yinka, 2013).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The image a country projects in the international system and in its connections with other countries is crucial in establishing its position, recognition, and credibility in the international system. The problem of online fraud is not good for a country’s image or reputation (Dennis, 2014) . It represents a degree of engagement in illegal activities that scares investors away, inhibiting both domestic and international investment, which is bad for the economy. It erodes international and public trust in the country’s financial industry. It discourages hard effort in academic environments, which is fair given that it is estimated that the majority of offenders of online fraud are tertiary students. It is inimical to progress and development, and denies Nigerians opportunities abroad (Olusola, Samson, Semiu, & Yinka, 2013).
As Nigeria transitions to a cashless society, the threat of internet fraud becomes even more relevant. Individuals, businesses, the Nigerian government, and the international community must all work together. Reforms such as raising knowledge about cybercriminals’ methods of operation, improving personal security, establishing anti-scam centers, and so on are critical in reducing internet fraud. The Central Bank of Nigeria introduced a risk-based cyber security framework and guidelines for deposit money banks and payment service providers in an effort to combat cybercrime in Nigeria (Olugbodi, 2010).
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of this study is critically examine Internet Fraud and its impact on National image in the International Community. Other objectives of this study are:
i. To critically examine internet fraud and how it impacts on the progress and development of the country.
ii. To examine how internet fraud affects Nigerians living abroad.
iii. To examine the effects of internet fraud on the level of foreign investment in Nigeria
iv. To determine possible ways the Federal Government can protect the image of the country from internet fraud
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
i. What are the impacts of internet fraud on the growth and progress of Nigeria?
ii. How has internet fraud affected Nigerians living abroad?
iii. What are the effects of internet fraud on the level of foreign investment in Nigeria?
v. What are the possible ways the Federal Government can protect the image of the country from internet fraud
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be beneficial to the Nigerian society as it will be shown the effects of internet fraud on the national image and how this affects Nigerians living abroad, the growth and progress of Nigeria and the level of foreign investment. It will also be beneficial to the Federal Government as it will help them do more to stop the spread of internet fraud.
This study will serve as an existing material for further studies and future reference.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will cover the examination of Internet Fraud and its impact on National image in the International Community. It will also effectively cover the impacts internet fraud has on the growth and progress of Nigeria, Nigerians living abroad and the level of foriegn investment. This study will be using staff of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja for this study.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study will be limited to examination of Internet Fraud and its impact on National image in the International Community. It will also be limited to the impacts internet fraud has on the growth and progress of Nigeria, Nigerians living abroad and the level of foriegn investment. This study will be limited to staff of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Examination: a detailed inspection or study
Internet fraud: is the use of Internet services or software with Internet access to defraud victims or to otherwise take advantage of them.
Impact: marked effect or influence
National image: aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries.