EDITORIAL: Online lottery scam

People should stay away from online lottery schemes, while banks must overhaul their software system as per the NRB directives

With the advancement in information technology and easy access to the Internet, smart mobile phones and social networking sites, transnational rackets are misusing them to dupe unsuspecting Nepalis in the guise of online lottery. This is a recent phenomenon, making it difficult for the law enforcement agency to deal with such a racket. No sooner had an international racket stolen millions of rupees from the Lahan-based branch of Nepal Agriculture Development Bank by feeding malware into its computer system and Panos Remit in the capital a few months ago than another racket, in connivance with Nepali accomplices, has duped 34 people of Rs 146.7 million through banking channels. Police have arrested three Nepali members of an organised international racket for duping people of millions of rupees through an online lottery scam and hacking the banking system to remit money abroad. According to the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD), Nigerian, British and Indian nationals were operating their racket using their Nepali agents from outside the country to swindle gullible users of such a huge amount of money through online lottery and on the pretext of sending valuable parcels via social media. It has come to light that a Nigerian national and a Briton are the ringleaders.

The police have learnt about the existence of 14 bank accounts held by Nepali agents, who duped unwary people through the online lottery scam. Fifteen of those duped have already lodged complaints with the MPCD. They had deposited cash in the said bank accounts when asked to do so by the scammers. The racketeers allowed the Nepali agents to keep 15-20 per cent of the amount collected through the scams and hacking the banking system as commission for the work done. The agents would transfer the remaining amount to India via several channels, including hundi. Nepali agents were found to be operating more than six bank accounts each.

The way Nepal’s banking system has been hacked time and again over the last four years shows that something is wrong within it, which needs an overhaul to deal with the emerging threat. It would also be impossible to hack the banking system without some kind of hint or help from the employee(s) of the concerned banks. Nepal Rastra Bank had issued circulars to the banks to upgrade their software systems to make them foolproof. But they have failed to heed its directives. People will lose confidence in the banking system if such incidents continue unabated. Duping people of millions of rupees through online lottery scams is a serious case, which the law enforcement agency and the banks cannot take lightly. Most of those cheated by the international racketeers are from the rural areas, little educated, illiterate about information technology or unemployed, who want to earn easy money overnight. This could be the main reason why they fall prey to transnational rackets. One must be aware of the fact that nobody will offer cash or a lucrative prize to anyone for no reason. The only way to stay free from such scams is to avoid entertaining such messages and also to educate others about such acts.

New education policy

The government has introduced the National Education Policy-2019, which is structured in line with the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. While compulsory and free basic education is a salient feature of the new policy, it has given emphasis to science and technology in a bid to produce technical manpower at all levels.

Nepal’s education system was in need of a major overhaul, given the falling education standards at all levels, indiscipline and growing unemployment in the country. A good education policy if implemented well can help produce the necessary manpower in the country itself and save billions of rupees that go to train our human resource in foreign universities. At the heart of any education policy, however, lies the training of good teachers who can mould students into future nation builders. Unfortunately, Nepal’s education system has been marred by politics, both of the teachers and students. Unless the parties show the will to dismantle politics in education altogether, it is going to be an uphill task to realise the ideals of the new policy, namely that of producing educated, civilised, healthy and capable human resource and bringing prosperity to the nation.