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The Western Union Company, a leader in global payment services, reaffirmed its commitment to consumer protection at the close of the First West Africa Cybercrime Summit in Abuja, Nigeria.

The three day summit themed ‘The Fight against Cybercrime: Towards Innovative and Sustainable Economic Development’, was sponsored by Western Union amongst others and hosted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Microsoft. Aimed at combating internet fraud, its long term objective is to create better conditions for West Africa’s economic development.

The Summit also sought to position the fight against cybercrime as a regional priority to support economic development, build anti-fraud capacity, develop effective solutions, and showcase best practice amongst the two hundred delegates of government decision makers, public policy advisers, lawyers, civil society, academics as well as other industry players dedicated to combating cybercrime. Over the course of the three days a number of important issues were explored including consumer awareness and education, international cooperation, legislation and how to address the most common fraudulent activities.

The Summit was built upon collaborations initiated at the first international conference on advance fee fraud in October 2008, with the cooperation of the Council of Europe, International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) at this event contributing international expertise and best practice sharing in crime detection and prevention.

As a leading provider of global money transfer services Western Union takes the issue of consumer fraud very seriously and has a robust fraud prevention programme, which is regularly reviewed to ensure consumers continue to receive a reliable service, as well as consumer tips to enable them to protect themselves against various types of fraud. Continuous consumer education is an integral part of the programme, as educated customers are far better able to protect themselves, their personal information and their hard earned money.

Speaking at conference, George Pearson, Director of AML/CFT Compliance for Middle East, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Western Union, commented: “Western Union is committed to helping consumers and Agents protect themselves from fraud. We strongly believe that fraud prevention is a shared responsibility among governments and law enforcement agencies, consumers and the corporate community, and we have formed, and continue to build upon, strategic cooperative relationships to curb online criminal activity. Consumers are in fact the best line of defence against online fraud and a significant part of our resources go into consumer awareness activities.”

As well as its involvement in fighting cybercrime, Western Union is investing in new technologies to reduce risks to its customers. In Nigeria, where the issue of identifying the correct recipient of transferred funds has presented some concern, Western Union has developed, and commenced the installation of, PIN pad technology at payout locations which require the input of a code provided to the recipient by the sender before a money transfer can be paid out.

The Cybercrime Summit coincided with Western Union’s 15 year anniversary both in the region and the continent having first launched its services in 1995 in Ghana.

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