According to a spokesperson from the Hawks, cyber crime is costing South Africa millions every year, even though the scammers have to work hard to get a “hit”. Most people will question dodgy communication from scammers, but unfortunately someone will always take the bait – one of the reasons why you will always get scammers looking to make a quick buck.
Unfortunately scammers don’t rest in this day and age and it’s important that howsouthafrica users and the South African public be aware of this.
When it comes to scams remember the following 4 things:
- If something sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
- Never respond to an e-mail, SMS or phone call requiring you to submit personal information (even if it’s in the form of a threat to your account being suspended due to some third-party interference).
- Never participate in any “sale of goods”, “survey”, “competition”, “lottery” or “inheritance” scheme requiring any personal information over the phone or the internet.
- If you’re selling something, confirm payment with your bank before releasing the goods, and if you don’t remember entering a competition or buying a lottery ticket, you haven’t won anything.
Plain and simple, isn’t it? If you live by these 4 rules you should be okay. Check out the list op the top 10 scam types in South Africa below, I’m pretty sure that you’ll find this information useful:
- The 419 heartbreaker scam: This latest version of the 419 scam targets online dating sites. A girl or a guy romances someone over the internet for a few weeks and then comes up with a story that he / she been in a submarine accident and had lost all their money. Inevitably he / she asks their new found other half to send a cash advance to them. The 419 heartbreakers correspondence looks authentic and is oozing with charm, but in reality its being generated by criminal syndicates (usually made up of people of different nationalities).
- Phishing: Many of you are probably familiar with phishing. Fake E-mails are sent out by scammers. They claim that they’re from a bank (ABSA, Standard Bank or other South African banks) and that you have to do various things online to confirm your details, etc. All this is done in order to gain access to your bank accounts.
- Smishing: This is basically the SMS version of Phishing. South Africa has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world and it is a wide open field. Many people have received an SMS message requesting that verify their account or in some cases an alarmist message that you make a call rather than visiting a false link. The person on the other end of the line is a fraudster who is after personal information (include your PIN code). Remember that no bank will ever ask you for your PIN code over the phone.
- False payment confirmations: Junk Mail users knows this scam as the SMS Payment confirmation scam. Basically a hoax payment confirmation SMS is sent out by the scammer to confirm payment and it appears to be from your bank. To best way to avoid being caught is to verify that money has been deposited into your account – always. Never release the goods that you’re selling if you aren’t 100% sure that you’ve received payment.
- Unethical app downloads charges: Scammers and unethical developers are now making use of premium-rated SMSes in an attempt to defraud people via the mobile applications they download onto their mobile phones. Google removed 22 applications from the Android cellphone market (now known as Google Play) because they conned people into agreeing to premium SMS charges. The first line of defence against any kind of SMS fraud is to thoroughly check your phone bill for any unusual amounts being deducted. Also Only download the more popular apps to avoid this scam.
- SIM Swops: One of the ways that a phishing scam can go is a SIM swop scam. The scammer already has your cellphone number and can get enough additional information to request a SIM swop from your network operator. That way they have access to both your bank account details and the SIM card needed to complete transactions. To prevent this SA mobile operators have increased security surrounding SIM swops and this kind of fraud is declining.
- Credit Card Skimming: This is a global problem. Credit Card Skimming usually takes place when a fraudster captures card data on devices similar to those used for legitimate point-of-sale or ATM transactions. These devices fit nicely over the card slot on an ATM and some of them even include a camera to record the PIN code. The main point of compromise in this kind of scam is when you hand your card to someone to do a transaction. Never let your card out of your sight and when entering your PIN, cover the PIN pad.
- Unscrupulous subscription services: Cellphone users should take note that unscrupulous wireless application service providers (WASPs) can bill any South African cell number and can even detect and record cell phone numbers if you’re browse their websites using your cellphone. On a mobile device all that is needed to bill you is your cellphone number. Make sure that you check your phone bills looking for charges you did not authorize or ongoing charges for subscription services that you did not realise were not once-offs
- Counterfit merchandise: Beware of fakes when you’re buying something expensive. It’s big business and a lot of it’s happening online. Recently police arrested four men who tried to con someone into buying fake gems (which had a value of R250,000). The person who was the mark for this scam set up a sting operation and the men were arrested. The gems turned out nothing more than four pieces of glass covered in the melted silicone tube from a TV set.
- Microsoft Scam: Scammers call you on your cellphone or home phone claiming to be working for Microsoft. They tell you that they have found out you have a problem with your home computer. They’ll ask you all sorts of questions and prompt you to do all sorts of things with your computer to sort out the problem. The aim of all of this is to get into your computer remotely so they can access all your private info. You could also be told that you’ve won the Microsoft Lottery and that Microsoft requires credit card information to validate your copy of Windows. Another one is unsolicited e-mails from Microsoft requesting a security update. All scams. Don’t get caught by them.