The elderly are being targeted in the latest bank fraud scam. Picture: IOL Graphics: Sabric
The elderly are being targeted in the latest bank fraud scam. Picture: IOL Graphics: Sabric

Elderly warned against new bank scam

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Apr 10, 2021

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Cape Town - The elderly are being targeted in the latest bank fraud scam.

“Several cases reported since January this year. The value involved is over R700 000. In a few cases, the bank was able to freeze the account so that the funds didn’t get released. The victims are elderly persons,” said Port Alfred police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender .

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said while he was not aware of reports in other areas, people from different provinces are not immune to the scam.

The SAPS issued a warning stating that fraud cases are a crime of concern as criminals are using another trend to defraud persons.

The caller will identify himself as an individual working in the bank’s fraud division. He/she states that a transaction has taken place on the victim’s account. The suspect has all personal particulars and profile of the victim, including details of bank accounts, linked accounts and beneficiaries.

“The suspect then states that a transaction has appeared on an account which appears suspicious and enquires from the victim if they have approved a transaction for a large amount of cash from their account, furnishing account details and when the victim replies in the negative, the caller informs the victim that he will reverse the charge if the victim can go onto their banking app,” read the statement.

Once the victim has logged onto their banking app, the suspect tells the victim to supply the one-time password (OTP) that was sent via SMS to their cell phone so that the transaction can be reversed. As soon as the OTP is given to the suspect, the suspect starts to transact on the account, increasing limits, adding beneficiaries and making payments.

Head of fraud strategy at Absa retail and business bank Ulrich Janse van Rensburg said over the past 18 months, they had noted an increase in social engineering, where fraudsters or syndicates trick customers into disclosing their personal and confidential information. With social engineering syndicates typically pretend to be from a bank and share personal information often causing customers to let their guard down and disclose confidential information.

“As an industry, we are alive to the threat that this modus operandi poses to customers and we are working closely with other banks, and the SA Banking Risk Information Centre in combating this,” said Van Rensburg.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) told the Weekend Argus that they are aware of this modus operandi.

Chief executive of Sabric Nischal Mewalall said bank clients have lost money in this way due to social engineering tactics, as these incidents are reported by the victims to the banks. This modus operandi sees criminals utilise social engineering tactics which are designed to manipulate victims into disclosing their confidential information such as PINS and passwords to access their bank account.

When asked about stats, Sabric said their latest digital crime stats will be released in June.

“Sabric has been very vocal about awareness messaging around vishing, smishing and phishing, all specifically highlighted due to the proliferation of these tactics. The banks also deploy campaigns and awareness messaging to educate their clients and constantly re-engineer their processes because of their engagement with consumers around these fraud tactics,” said Mewalall.

Standard Bank’s spokesperson, Ross Linstrom, said they take the protection of their customers’ personal and banking data very seriously.

“We encourage all customers to be always vigilant and to not volunteer any private information via email or telephonically. It’s important to stay up to date with the latest scam trends so you can protect yourself. Never share your one-time pin with anyone (including the bank),” said Linstrom.

He added that this scam is known as vishing. Vishing is when scammers pretend to be somebody from the bank and acquire your private information through telephonic manipulation.

“Be conscious of the fact that criminals can mask their telephone numbers seem as if a legitimate individual or company is making the phone call,” said Linstrom.

He added that If you receive an OTP on your phone without having transacted yourself, it is likely that it is a fraudster who has used your personal information. Do not provide the OTP telephonically to anybody.

Weekend Argus

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