Watch out for these cybercrimes

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We have all heard of phishing scams, online malware and the world of hacking. However, despite the fact that many people and companies have been unsuspectingly hit by online malware and have had data stolen, other scams often operate quietly and over a long period of time to steal more than just information. Here are some real-world scenarios of online scammers defrauding people of their money:

  1. Buying Online

Susan Parish shared her story on East Coast Radio regarding a scam she encountered. Her husband Russel had been doing some internet research into a buying French bulldog puppy. After exchanging many emails with the puppy owner, Chantel, who claimed to be based in the northern Cape, they agreed that he’d pay R2500 for the pup, via Pep voucher, and she’d fly the dog to Durban. Russel then left on a business trip, telling Susan to look out for an email from Chantel confirming the flight details. Instead she got an email from “EagleOne Courier”, saying they had the puppy, but the crate was not acceptable and the couple needed to pay R3000 for a temperature controlled one, R2950 of which would be refunded to them on its return. Susan paid that R3000, and then Chantel and her sidekick Robert disappeared.

  1. House Hunting

A couple who were buying their first home in Knysna had their R250,000 deposit stolen when a hacker scammed them into depositing the money into the wrong bank account. The scammer spoofed the e-mail address of the conveyancer and asked the buyer, Shandin Thompson, to deposit the money into their “trust account”. Not wanting to lose the deal on the home, Thompson and his wife arranged to pay the deposit a few days earlier than they had negotiated. Gmail didn’t flag the spoofed e-mails, and the banks didn’t flag the R250,000 transfer to the scammer’s account. The fact that the money had been paid into the wrong account wasn’t discovered for weeks.

  1. Cell phone Banking

A Durban businessman had more than R100 000 allegedly taken from his bank account when fraudsters were able to do a “SIM swop” on his SIM card in Johannesburg while he was at home in Glenwood. He claims fraudsters bypassed his online banking security features and accessed his account. The man, named Morris Smith, did not realise that someone pretending to be him had gone to a Vodacom store in Johannesburg, and was performing a SIM swop on his SIM card that enable a scam to access the funds in his online banking account. Later, Smith discovered that R107 480 had been stolen from his account, including R80 000 from his credit card account.

  1. Cloned Credit Card

A Knysna resident, Trent Read, had his bank card cloned by Sihle Dzingwa in Cape Town. Sihle’s intention was to make duplicate credit and debit cards using the information on Trent’s card. A cashier’s suspicions grew when the duplicated card that Sihle had attempted to purchase a laptop with had declined at a CNA in Brackenfell. Credit card cloning is done by illegally using a skimming device, which reads the information on the bank card strip, or by distractions at ATMs, where fraudsters are able to see your bank information during a withdrawal. 

  1. Intercepted Invoice

Amatola Water had contracted Malambo Construction to render services. But before the money could be paid out‚ Amatola Water received what looked like genuine correspondence from the service provider informing them of a change in banking details. Amatola Water then transferred an amount of R2.2 million into the newly provided bank account but were perplexed when representatives from Malambo Construction enquired about when their money would be paid. It was then discovered that someone fraudulently changed Malambo Construction’s banking details without their consent.

What to do if I am a victim?

  1. The first thing to do if you have been scammed through an online purchase is to report it to the classified site immediately. They will be able to collect information about the seller.
  2. Contact your bank’s fraud unit to lodge a claim, and if the transaction has not yet cleared, the funds will be frozen. Contact the scammers bank to retrieve the scammer’s particulars as linked to the account number.
  3. The first thing to do is to contact your service provider immediately. Measures will be taken to avoid further transactions with the use of your banking One-Time-Pin. Visit or contact your bank to notify them of the invalid transactions. Alternatively, you can change your Internet banking logon credentials online, and the changes will take effect within a few minutes. Call the Internet banking call centre to report the unauthorised sim swop.
  4. Contact your bank immediately to ensure that they cancel your card, and notify them of your cloned card incident.
  5. Once you have realised that you are a victim of invoice interception, contact both your bank and the receiving bank immediately notifying them of the transaction. Communicate with the original supplier, letting them know of the banking details you received on the intercepted invoice.
  6. In all instances where you have been a victim of cybercrime, report it at your nearest police station, and supply as much information as you can.

 Precautionary measures

  1. When making online purchases, ensure that the website is secured. The URL should have ‘https:’ and pay attention to the domain. The original may be .com, and the scammer may be staged as
  2. When buying property, check the estate agent’s legitimacy by verifying their registration with the Estate Agents Affair Board (EAAB).
  3. Activate in-contact notifications linking your bank account to your cell phone number. Cell phone banking options allow you to check your balance frequently.
  4. Change your PIN often, and do not write it down on your card. If you must save it on your phone, disguise it in a phone number under a name you will remember. If your pin is 7532, an example of this would be: Harvey Spector – 082 333 7532.

If you receive new banking details from a usual supplier, contact the supplier to ensure that the changes are valid.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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