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Experts blame Ministry for porous, unsecured tax campaign architecture on VAIDS

Digital fraudsters have cashed in on the observed weak, unsecured and poorly structured tax awareness drive of the Ministry of Finance through the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).

Analysts say what may have prompted the fraudsters to cash in on the government’s tax drive may not be unconnected with security lapses around the entire build up to the campaign.

According to Mr. Tunde Amosun, a digital security expert, he told Business Hilights on Monday that “The minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun was carried aware by the fact that Nigerians are positively responding to the extent she went ahead to package an advert on the modus operandi of VAIDS officials which I think opened the eyes of these criminals.

“Now if you take time to study that video advertorial involving a VAIDS official bumping into a woman’s seating room and without any formalities, began to tell the woman all her strategic investments and properties, that is too bad in a society like Nigeria.

“The implied meaning of that message is that anybody can barge in and tell you that he or she is from VAIDS and that’s all.

Continuing, Tunde advised the ministry’s advertorial team to go back to drawing board and come up with a compact presentation that is devoid of illegal access which will further show how strenuous the VAIDS official was drilled and how a real VAIDS official should introduce himself before unleashing the information he came with.

Another online security analyst, who pleaded anonymity, said the ministerial team should be identified with a nontransferable code for identification and better still, be more open in their awareness creation and stop creating the impression that they are targeting only wealthy Nigerians if they want the programme to be successful because there are no clear characteristics of the so-called wealthy Nigerians.

In his submission, the Minister should stop making Nigerians to see the tax awareness as an issue of only wealthy Nigerians.

All the ministry should tell Nigerians is that ‘Pay your tax so that government would do more in service delivery and not making us see it campaign as big man affairs’.

He also called for details on how the tax officials appear and perform their duties so that it will be easy to identify criminals’ and impostors.

Since recently, there had been unprecedented cases of frauds perpetrated by online scammers who may have identified wealthy Nigerians that have no clear tax record and swoop on him from the fast lane and milk him dry before government officials arrive for the education and explanation of how VAIDS works.

Already, the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has advised tax payers to demand for written notice when they receive phone calls from tax officials for payment purposes in order not to fall victim to fraudsters.

Adeosun gave the advice in a statement issued by her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Mr Oluyinka Akintunde in Abuja, saying “Following reports that fraudsters, who claimed to be officials of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) were on the loose”.

“My attention has been drawn to reports of some unidentified tax officials requesting for bank details and address of tax payers.

“If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Tax Office, do not panic. Ask them to send you a written notice.

“Do not provide any details like your address or bank details,” the minister averred.

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