South Africa’s largest bank warns of new scams targeting customers

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South Africans were at greater risk of falling victim to fraud in the past year, according to data from the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS).

“This is particularly worrying given the economic climate we are currently facing,” said Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of the SAFPS. “Consumers are facing a significant cycle of high inflation and are looking for ways to make ends meet. This makes them increasingly vulnerable to scams and schemes run by highly motivated, highly skilled fraud syndicates.”

Standard Bank, meanwhile, has issued a note requesting the customer to be aware of the following three types of scams that it believes are becoming more common:

Fake holiday deal scam

  • Fraudsters try to exploit you by advertising incredible vacations or timeshare deals, which turn out to be fake.
  • The offers are often heavily discounted or offered online via social media websites or other websites.
  • Once you have made the payment via EFT or push payments, you will never receive confirmation details of the holiday.

Fake Goods Scams

  • Fraudsters try to scam you by advertising great offers that are very attractive.
  • They will pressure you to make a full or partial payment quickly to secure the deal – but the offer is bogus and you will never receive the goods.
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Fake Vehicle Scams

  • This scam is similar to the others in that the fraudster will advertise an incredible deal for a car that doesn’t exist.
  • They will pressure you to pay a down payment or the full asking price by claiming that there are other interested buyers, or that the sale is urgent due to illness or emigration.

The SAFPS has also hinted at scams to watch out for. It has noticed an increase in money mules scams – when a person approaches someone else and asks them if they can use their account to send money to a relative in another country.

“While this should immediately be a red flag, you’d be surprised how many people willingly respond in the hope that they can help,” said Van Schalkwyk. Unfortunately, this then opens the door for fraudsters to take significant advantage of their victim.

When it comes to abuse of accounts through fraudulent behavior, the risk of money muling has increased by 97% compared to cases registered in 2021.

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“This is a big problem and not just limited to South Africa. Money muling is a significant global risk. Reports from Cifas in the UK indicate that money muling finances illegal activities such as money laundering, terrorism and human trafficking. This is of course worrying, especially within the South African content,” said Van Schalkwyk.

Impersonation has always been a serious crime in South Africa, as fraudsters rob their victims through phishing, smishing and vishing.

“Impersonation impersonation is up 264% in the first five months of the year compared to 2021 and can be linked to recent major data breaches. The various data breaches have all shown how vulnerable personal information is and how easily it is accessible to the motivated criminal,” said Van Schalkwyk.

South Africa has one of the highest reported unemployment rates in the world. Current statistics from Stats SA report that the official unemployment rate is 34.5%. “In an effort to increase employability, we are seeing an increase in false qualifications that has increased by 158% over cases reported in 2021,” said SAFPS.

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Gauteng is the economic center of the country and the province with the highest fraud statistics. The SAFPS points out that the province accounts for 62% of the total fraud incidents in the country and the number of fraud incidents recorded in 2022 increased by 117% from the number of incidents reported in 2021.

KwaZulu-Natal contributed 18% to the fraud incidents in 2022 and the SAFPS points out that the number of reported incidents has increased by 106% this year compared to the number registered in 2021.

“The interesting statistic for the SAFPS is the increase in the Western Cape,” said Van Schalkwyk, pointing out that there are visible signs of an increase in fraudulent activity in this province. The Western Cape accounted for 8% of the total fraud incidents in the country and there was a 133% increase from the number of reported fraud incidents in 2021.


Read: SARB sends warning to South Africa’s largest banks

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