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Scams

Scams in South Africa
Scams in South Africa, image: pxhere.com

There are so many scams some of which have been group as a single term. Fraudsters continuously lure vulnerable people to provide them with confidential information such as their names, banking details, security numbers, etc.  These scams are usually done via emails, SMSs, malware, remote access, phone calls, etc.

Never share your personal information with anyone online, or over the phone, etc. Remember, Banks in South Africa can never ask for your personal details, OTP (One-Time-Pin), PIN codes and Card Numbers.

There is a saying: “If it’s too good to be true, it most probably is”, never be lured by fraudsters with unbelievable offers.  I’ve received tons of SMSs where fraudsters claim that I have won a competition that I have never entered.

e.g. ‘Congratulations, Your number 0712345678, has won R500 000, ref: 12345, call 0812345678’, as curious as I am, but not gullible, I called and they wanted me to deposit some cash before I can receive the cash, I will discuss this further.

It is most probably scammed when they are hasty and give you limited time to confirm personal details or to win the prize of a competition you’ve never entered. If you get unsolicited emails from free mailing systems such as ‘Gmail Accounts’, ’Hotmail Accounts’, ‘Yahoo Accounts’, ‘AIM accounts’ and more, don’t think twice, it’s a scam.

If you are promised huge amounts of money from little or no effort from your side, you best assured, are probably being scammed. If you receive links of any kind from unsolicited emails, DON’T CLICK… Please DO NOT CLICK!!!

Types of Scams

There are a number of Scams which doesn’t just affect South Africa, but the whole world in every country. Fraudsters will take advantage of the gullible and most vulnerable and dry out their accounts.  As soon as you realize or suspect anything, it’s best to contact your bank directly and have them look into the situation.

Use the channels you know to contact the bank, if you feel you are being scammed – or go to the nearest branch. Most people are being scammed, and I have seen and heard how people give their personal and sensitive details online or over the phone – Stop doing so.

Here are the Types of Scams in South Africa and affecting the world.

Email hacking scam

Most people have all their account linked to their email account. This can be dangerous when you are hacked, where a fraudster gains unauthorized access to your email account and start sending messages to your friends, business partners and family to defraud them. This will be done in your trusted name, and this is done through malware viruses, where a fraudster makes use of malware to gain access to your emails.

They will have access to your contact list, emails, and asks for money in your name. They can ask your business partners to update their account details.

You will realize this, when you see missing emails, opened emails which you did not open yourself, receiving unexpected emails, when your login has been changed and having unknown sent emails under your sent items on your email account.

Phishing scam

This is when a fraudster sends you an unsolicited email claiming to be from the bank or a reputable organization. Phishing is an act of getting someone’s information through fraudulent activities.

When you are sent an email with links and/or icons, you will usually be asked to click on them to update your personal details, and/or the link can take you to a fake website, where you will be asked to update personal details and login credentials for your online banking, email account, bank card details, etc.

Details you provide will be used by fraudsters to defraud you. Don’t be fooled by an email threatening to suspend your bank, email or any account for that matter. Fraudsters are usually hasty, take note of that. If the email points out bluntly that you are a victim of fraud – that should raise suspicions instantly.

You might be asked to give permission and so you can receive a sum of money – STOP and call your bank.

SIM swap scam

These days banks use your cellphone number as proof of your identity, and when a fraudster has performed a SIM Swap without your knowledge, they will have access to you cellphone banking, calls, and SMSs.

These people have time, usually; they will perform a SIM swap after they had just received your banking credentials through a phishing email or a vishing call.  They will have access to your phone and personal details – giving them full access to OTPs when making transactions to defraud you.

When your phone isn’t receiving calls anymore or SMSs or you no longer receive OTP or your phone has just lost a signal, you are most likely a victim of fraud.

Remote access takeover scam

When fraudsters trick you into downloading their software into your computer and so they can have access to your computer remotely, that is known as Remote access takeover scam. They will be able to modify your computer setting, making your computer vulnerable to online banking fraud.

Fraudsters will claim to work for the bank’s security center and offering computer software upgrades to supposedly ‘protect you from being a scam/fraud victim’, or claim to help you reverse fraudulent payment by asking you to install remote access software  (You will be literally giving them full access to your computer).

They will be patient with you, taking you through the steps, and once installed, you will be asked to log in to your online banking account, and asked to make a payment for the software you just installed.

When you start receiving OTPs to confirm unauthorized payments, you must contact the bank immediately.  However, the fraudsters are very conniving, they will make you believe, and the OTP is required to complete your software installation. You will obviously be asked to confirm the OTPs and that’s how they will use those OTPs to make fraudulent transactions.

Don’t let anyone put you into a corner even if they claim to be from the bank. Don’t download and install unknown software applications on your computer.

Dating and romance scam

Ever seen the show ‘Catfish’, where people aren’t exactly who they say they are. This is exactly what Dating and Romance fraudsters do.

You will meet people online in the hope of finding love and romance, lifetime partners, which evokes a lot of emotions. Fraudsters create fake online profiles on a legitimate dating website or social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, etc.

They will send a request with their fake personal details, usually posing as someone else – or using a picture of someone else. Once you get to know them better, they will start asking for help – and when you help them with money, they might continuously ask for more money and eventually, you will never hear from them ever again.

Sometimes it can be a genuine request, in some instances can a fraudster busy at work and drying up your bank balance. They may ask for fees to disclose sensitive details – they will claim to work an out-of-the-ordinary job, you might recognize the inconsistency in communication.

Holiday scam

When fraudsters lure you to purchase a fraudulent holiday package online through ostensibly real classified ads or websites is known as Holiday Scam. You may come across a website or an email promoting an unbelievable holiday package; you will be given a time frame to make the purchase with your credit card.

Believe me, the purchase will go through but you won’t receive any package because everything was just a fraud. Once you make a purchase, they will have access to your funds and banking details.

Ensure that you use a recognized website to book and purchase a holiday package. Ensure the website uses SSL Certificates (HTTPS).

When they are hasty, it’s probably a scam. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS.

Change of banking details scam

When a fraudster attempts to steal money from your account posing as one your suppliers and or someone you are supposed to pay, asking you to update their banking account details, obviously replacing the correct details with theirs and so they can defraud you.

If you are in business, and or have a supplier of any kind, you might get an email, fax or letter posing as your supplier asking you to update their banking details, basically the fraudster will inform you of change in bank account details and you will be asked to update your records accordingly, however, this new account details are those of a fraudster.

Your usual payments will be sent to the scammer and not your actual supplier.  When you receive an email from your supplier or on an unusual form of communication, it is best to contact them telephonically or through a recognized channel and confirm the details.

The change of bank details has to be made via official correspondence or through the contact details, you have on your database.  Again, fraudsters have a way of making an email address look like it’s from your actual supplier – you need to confirm everything by contacting your supplier through the usual channel.

Twin SIM scam (Duplicate SIM Scam)

This is when a fraudster duplicates your SIM card or your cellphone number so they can be able to divert phone calls and SMSs.

I didn’t know SMS can be diverted, but well – the fraudster will then have access and take control of your primary cellphone number when all your calls and SMSs get diverted to the duplicated SIM. Thus they will be able to access your OTP SMSs to defraud you.

You will realize this by not receiving calls, SMSs, or OTPs and when you have no signal to your phone, you will have to report the matter to the Network Service Provider as well as the bank to possibly deregister your number from cellphone banking, as well as internet banking until the matter is resolved.

Keylogger scam

The world of fraudsters tries all sorts of ways to get your hard-earned money – this when a fraudster records your keystroke entered on your computer. The software used can be from a USB, hyperlink or from a malicious website, or rogue apps. DO NOT VISIT MALICIOUS WEBSITES THAT CAN ULTIMATELY RUIN YOUR YEAR.

When the Keylogger software is installed, your recorded keystroke will be sent to the fraudster via email anonymously, and or they can access your computer.

It doesn’t matter what you type, can be your card number, PIN, usernames, passwords, personal details, etc. the Keylogger will record everything. Fraudsters often target internet cafes and thus it is advisable to not use internet cafes for your banking needs, social networks, and email.

Do not borrow people your personal computer, do not open unknown attachments, hyperlinks, emails especially from unknown sources.

Number porting scam

Fraudsters without your knowledge will perform a SIM Swap (Changing your cellphone number from your current network service provider to a different one).  This too happens when the fraudster has already received your banking login details, either through a phishing email or a vishing call.

To prevent unauthorized number porting, network service providers will send you an SMS to confirm that your number is in a process of being transferred to another SP. Should you ignore the SMS, the fraudster will have complete access to your SIM’s SMSs, calls, and OTPs, all that’s needed for them to defraud you.

You will realize this when you no longer receive calls, SMSs and OTPs and also when your SIM has no signal.

Online goods scam

You find these scams on classifieds ads such as Gumtree, OLX, or any other buying and selling platform websites where a scammer asks for upfront payments for whatever you want to purchase, then after you will not receive the goods after the seller has received payments, in this point, you have just been scammed.

They will advertise their fake goods on reputable buy/sell websites because you contact them through the platform, they will be reachable – once you’ve negotiated the price, you will be asked to pay in advance.

You will be asked to deposit the amount to their accounts, or digital wallets, once the payments go through, they will be unreachable.

DO NOT PAY IN ADVANCE FOR THE GOODS YOU HAVEN’T RECEIVED

Spoofed website scam

Spoofed websites are fake websites that look exactly like the real website of a reputable organization, it can be a bank, SARS, government site, etc.

The site will usually have an identical logo of the organization they are imitating, may be used for other scams such as 419 or phishing scam. A spoofed website can be used for phishing and or 419 scam among other scams.

You will usually be asked to click on icons, hyperlinks on your email or on a spoofed website – DO NOT CLICK.

You will be asked to update your personal details, and take notice of the links provided, do not have the main domain name of the organization they claim to be from.

419 scam

419 scam must be the biggest scam there is, where fraudsters ask for upfront payment in order to receive a promised large amounts of money.  This is where people win a fake lottery or are informed of inheritance that’s left for them. DO NOT BE A VICTIM.

You will be asked to pay upfront fees before having access to the promised funds. You will hear all sorts of reasons for the upfront fees, including, banking charges, etc. Even if you tell them to take the fees from the fund they are sending, they will come up with more excuses – I don’t think they sleep these people.

You may be given a spoofed website’s credentials which displays your hyperbolic bank balance. You will never hear from these people once you’ve made upfront fees and no money will be sent into your account.

You will receive an email with a promise of large sums of money (usually millions of USDs or EURs) without knowledge of where it comes from – and you will usually be emotionally blackmailed with emotional stories, prompting you to respond as soon as possible.

You are asked to click on the hyperlinks or icons received via email to enter your personal details, DO NOT BE LURED INTO a 419 SCAM.

Deposit and refund scam

This is an attempt by fraudsters to receive or rather steal your goods and or services without making payments.

A fraudster will order your goods or services through a fraudulent or stolen Cheque, hence they will be able to send you a fake proof of payment, and you will have the goods delivered to the scammer, sometimes, the fraudster can cancel the order and request an urgent refund.

Or, they can have their fake Cheque deposited into your business account and request a refund claiming they have erroneously deposited funds into your business account. If you don’t wait until the Cheque clears, you will be defrauded.

They will provide proof, however, don’t be hasty, take time and wait for a Cheque to clear at no questions asked.  It is always ‘error’ deposits, ‘canceling of orders’ signs that you have to look out for. Usually, the person is unreachable when you try to contact them to confirm the request, or when you don’t know if it’s a Cheque deposit or not. Be careful, and don’t be a victim.

Vishing scam

When fraudsters call you over the phone and ask for your personal and banking details, that is known as Vishing.  Banks in South Africa make use of mobile banking, and thus this type of scam is on the rise. Never give account details, PINs, Passwords and/or OTP over the phone as the bank can never ask for such details.

They will claim to be working for your bank, and you will be asked to very your account details, as supposedly ‘security reason’.  As soon as you give them your banking details, they will access your account and trust me, they will dry you out.

In some cases, you can receive an SMS claiming to be from the bank, and you might be asked to reply to the SMS with your banking details to receive the call. Fraudsters are usually hasty and want a quick process as soon as you pick up.

If anyone calls and claims to be from a fraud department, they would usually claim that funds from your account have been fraudulently taken from your account and that you’d have to confirm your banking details for them to return your funds into your account.

Never confirm your banking details, PIN, password and or OTP over the phone – you might be asked to confirm an OTP and so your defrauded funds can be returned into your account. You might also be told to call them back as confirmation that they are from the bank, in which case the call will be diverted to the bank’s call center. Do not fall for this. Think about this for a second, and let it sink, DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS OVER THE PHONE, EVER! RATHER BE SAFE THAN SORRY.

Smishing scam

Mobile banking in South Africa has grown massively and continues to grow, and the initiative was for our convenience – now, scammers see it as an opportunity for them to use it to their advantage when they attempt to gain access to your personal information via SMS.

You will simply receive an SMS that’s supposedly from an organization that you recognize, such as a bank, asking you to make a toll free call. Dialing a number lands in a fake automated voice-response asking for sensitive details like your PIN, passwords, card number, account number, etc.

This is their way of accessing your personal details and banking profile online.  You will be asked to update or confirm your personal details, they will be hasty and you won’t have time to think.

Author’s Notes

DO NOT BE A VICTIM OF A SCAM, if it’s too good to be true, it most probably is. Don’t be gullible, if you feel vulnerable or suspect anything, report the matter immediately to the Email provider and the bank as well.


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