SA holiday scammers at it again
The original article was written by Kashiefa Ajam of The Star and was published on IOL on 22 November 2014. The original article can be accessed here.
”Your money, their holiday.” The criminals’ holiday, that is, with the hard-earned money they stole from you.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre’s (Sabric) latest campaign, which depicts purported criminals in ski masks having the time of their lives, drinking in bars, out fishing, riding jet skis and buying groceries.
The aim is to urge South Africans to be vigilant this festive season or run the risk of becoming a crime statistic.
Sabric is to release its yearly card fraud statistics this week.
The general manager of its commercial crimes office, Susan Potgieter, conceded there had been a marked increase in certain types of schemes and scams.
One of the more prevalent scams is the “change in banking details” scam.
The scammer sends an innocent recipient an e-mail or letter informing them that their supplier has changed their bank account details. The letter includes details of the new account and asks the recipient to make future payments into the new account.
The “deposit and refund scam” is also widespread, Potgieter says.
Here, criminals order goods or services from a business or individual and pay money into the victim’s bank account by depositing a fraudulent cheque.
Sometimes, proof of payment is fabricated. This is sent to the business or individual and the goods are released to the criminal.
Alternatively, they cancel the order and request an urgent refund.
The bank processes the cheque, discovers it is fraudulent and reverses the payment into the victim’s bank account, or discovers no deposit has been made. This means the victim has lost money and goods.
“Don’t fall for it. Check, check and check again. Don’t just assume that the information you receive from your supposed suppliers are correct,” said Potgieter.
For individuals, she says the best advice is to guard personal debit and credit cards this festive season.
“The golden tip is never to reveal your pin number to anyone. Cover your hand when typing it in. Criminals rely on people not to do this. The first prize for them is to have your card and pin on hand – by the time you realise it’s gone, your money has long gone.”
Sabric’s general manager for violent crimes, Kevin Twiname, said although there had been fewer cash-in-transit heists and ATM bombings this year, consumers needed to be vigilant.
He said individuals, small businesses and members of savings clubs or stokvels were the most vulnerable during the festive season as they tended to carry a lot of cash.
“I want to urge people to carry as little cash as possible. There are so many alternate ways to transfer money. Use them if you can. If you can’t, be extra careful – you’re an easy target for criminals.”
This week SureSwipe said it had seen a sharp surge in the number of fraudsters out to prey on holiday shoppers.
Paul Kent, managing director of SureSwipe, which supplies card-swipe machines, said the company was on ultra-high alert.
“The good news is that debit cards are less likely to be scammed than credit cards. You are also less likely to experience fraud at a store than online or at an ATM.
“We saved merchants and consumers more than R52 million this year by picking up fraud attempts quickly.”
South Africa ranks third in the world for cyber crime, according to the 2014 Internet Security Threat Report, released by global security company Symantec. It said there had been a 92 percent increase in global online attacks last year.