Beware of fake websites claiming to give out Covid-19 aid on behalf of Nigeria's government
A website shared thousands of times on Facebook is inviting Nigerians to apply for financial help from a Covid-19 survival fund provided by the government of Africa’s most populous country. But AFP Fact Check found the site is a fraudulent version of the official state aid portal, which features the government’s web domain “gov.ng”.
Articles published on a website called Recruitment Gate have been shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle. The stories, with archived examples here, here, and here, encourage people to sign up to access the fund.
Nigeria’s Survival Fund
In response to the economic hardship sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, Nigeria set up a N75 billion ($197.4 million) survival fund for small and medium-sized companies.
Nigeria’s junior minister for industry, trade and investment Mariam Katagum told local media in 2020 that the programme would run for an initial duration of three months from September 2020, and support 1.7 million entities and individuals.
The government reopened the portal in January 2021 after the initial three-month registration period expired.
The Recruitment Gate website links to itself and has nothing to do with the government’s Survival Fund website. The fake website’s URL is “survivalfund.ng” whereas the official portal is “survivalfund.gov.ng”.
While the top-level domain for Nigeria is “.ng”, the government uses a “gov.ng” domain, making websites owned by the state easily identifiable.
The pandemic has hit Nigeria’s coffers, which depend mainly on oil for foreign exchange earnings. The crash in oil prices as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns sent the country into its worst recession in decades in 2020.
The latest official GDP report published on February 18, 2021, shows the country is now recovering.