Hackers are finding new and sophisticated ways of conning hard working people in South Africa out of their money with cunning online scams.
A website dedicated to scams across South Africa highlighted how new scams are being reported every day, with tax phishing emails amongst the most popular phishing emails received.
One recent scam is that of a holiday letting company. The report explains, “They post ads on gumtree for holiday accommodation. Beautiful beach front houses to rent at low costs. Everything is always available. Once you start emailing back and forth they send you a lease agreement with blank spaces and expect you to just sign at the bottom.” People then part with their money only to find everything is a scam and there are no holiday villas available (or even in existence!)
Another scam is more traditionally a ‘phishing email.’ Wonga’s brand image was used as the front for an SMS phishing attack when hackers masqueraded as the online loan lender and sent out mass emails and text messages to South Africans. The contact information of those affected was not leaked from Wonga itself but rather was the source of a much larger leak of data that impacts almost half the country. Those who were lured by the ‘too good to be true’ loan offer discovered that there was, of course, no such offer in reality and that the domain they had been dealing with was Fradulent. Wonga established a fraud hotline to help people affected to deal with the issue which is still live today.
Another scam doing the rounds in South Africa at the moment is the dead relative insurance payout one, which has been replicated across the world.
The message starts with explaining who the alleged sender is, a lawyer of some kind, and continues to say “Since the death of my Client, i have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives until now, so i decide to contact you and need your urgent Assistance to present you to the bank so that the proceed of my client’s fund valued about $10,7M (Ten Million Seven Hundred Thousand United Dollars.) can be paid Into Your Bank Account immediately before the funds will be confiscated by the Bank here.”
The sender then asks the recipient to reply to the email with their age, address, phone number, etc. The message ends “I am waiting on your urgent response.” This could urge people to respond quickly, with the lure of some unknown inheritance in their minds, but actually this is a pretty obvious sign of a phishing email and one that you should NOT reply to. Even replying to the email saying ‘no’ could validate your email address and you could be targeted again in the future.
There are many more scams going across South Africa, with new ones popping up everyday. The key is to be vigilant against senders that seem suspicious and to report anything you are unsure of. Never part with your money unless you are absolutely sure that the email is authentic. Even then, call the company directly and speak to a reliable staff member or call handler who can validate the message.