Supplied
Recent statistics show that while some forms of fraud are decreasing, there is a sharp increase in other areas.

“Fraudsters who are using fabricated identification documents and names have decreased by 48percent compared with 2018. However, the impersonation by fraudsters using real identity documents and names has increased by 99percent on 2018 figures. This figure doubled every year since 2016, which is extremely concerning,” says Manie van Schalkwyk, the director of the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS).

He said there has also been a sharp increase in the number of fraudsters using a combination of forged documents, which include falsified employment details, forged payslips and false qualifications. The figures increased by 47percent between 2017 and 2018, and an increase of 33percent between 2018 and 2019.

Fraudsters are becoming increasingly professional and ingenious in their methods. However, there are red flags that one can look out for in certain situations which are a dead give-away to possible illegal activity.

Recently, a customer of a cellular service provider was waiting for a refund of R1500. The provider was not getting back to her in time, so she vented her frustrations on Facebook.

Within hours of her post, a woman posing as an employee of the cellular service provider contacted the woman and offered to help her if she provided her identity number, payslip, and bank statement. The woman, desperate to get her refund, obliged and gave the information to the lady posing as the employee, who urged the woman not to speak to anyone else at the provider so that the situation does not become complicated.

A few days later, the customer finds that R15 000 has been deposited into her account as opposed to R1 500. She received a call from the woman posing as the cellular service provider employee who asked the lady to refund her with the balance of the funds (R15 000 minus R1 500). This was repeated twice over the following weeks.

Furnished with the information that the customer gave her, the woman posing as the employee of the cellular service provider had opened numerous accounts under the disgruntled customer's name.

“When one looks at the above case study, one can empathise with the frustration that the customer felt as customer service levels in South Africa are not up to global standards. However, there are a few red flags that have been raised,” says Van Schalkwyk.

* The cellular provider should have had all the customer’s details on hand and not have to ask for it to be resubmitted to them. If someone is asking for it, it is a serious red flag.

* All employees of major companies work off a centralised database and any call centre agent can keep you updated with an ongoing query. If someone tells you not to speak to anyone else at the company, again, it is a serious red flag. 

SUPPLIED BY SAFPS