Your Mobile Phone Number won R175000
in 2013 Yearly Nokia promotions,
Ref No 11NYP to Claim Your Price.
Contact MRS Khumalo* on 0783267927
This was the sms I got the other day. Woo hoo! All my financial problems are solved! Problem is, I don’t own a Nokia and I’ve never entered any Nokia competitions, so how have I won this money? So I phoned the number and asked Mrs Khumalo* how to go about claiming my winnings.
According to her, all I need to do is buy R110 airtime for intenational roaming (She was very specific about this) and sms the number of the voucher, together with my full name and banking details to the number provided. Awesome, I say. How long will it take for the money to be in my account? Her answer, about two or three days.
So I put the phone down and had a good laugh at her sure belief that I would do as she instructed. Curiosity then got the better of me and I phoned her back, not on the number to claim the winnings but on the number the sms originated from. After some coaxing and cajoling and promises to keep her identity a secret she agreed to talk to me. Our conversation was illuminating to say the least.
I started the conversation by saying that we both knew the sms was a scam and what she thought of that. Silence. I then asked if people actually sent her the airtime and banking details as requested. She said that for every R110 airtime voucher, she got R50 cash in hand and that she can make as much as R750 a day, depending on how many people sms her the airtime voucher. According to her, she’s made in excess of R20,000 in little over three months. She has another job as a sales assistant at Morkels, (You know, the two year guarantee store!) and she earns Six thousand Five hundred rand a month there. When I asked her how she felt about people being scammed out of their money she said that it was just R110 airtime and she needed to feed her children. When I pointed out that banking details are taken and asked why, she seemed confused. When I said that banking details can be used to take money from people’s accounts she was genuinely baffled. How, she wanted to know? Well, I was baffled too to be honest. How does someone get your money if all they have is an account number and your full name?
The answer, according to a friend in the banking sector is in cheque fraud, i.e. for printing fake cheques using victims' bank account information and also with internet banking. A call is made to the bank, pretending to be you, they have your bank account number and full name and phone number and they claim that they’ve forgotten the code to the internet banking and ask to have it reset. Once the code is reset all they have to do is transfer funds. Of course, most of the banks now have systems in place to prevent this type of fraud.
Another danger is SIM Swops: The scammer already has your cell-phone number and can get enough additional information to request a SIM swop from your network operator. That way they have access to both your bank account details and the SIM card needed to complete transactions. To prevent this SA mobile operators have increased security surrounding SIM swops and this kind of fraud is declining.
People often make the mistake of assuming that SMS’s are more secure than e-mail, because it seems like a more personal communication method. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Just like a bank will never ask for your confidential information over e-mail, they would never ask for them by SMS either.
SMS phishing scams are also on the rise and are often more easily fallen for because it is a real person that asks you for your details over the phone. For instance, you may receive an SMS (that has been replicated from the official version) alerting you that you have logged on to your Internet banking. The end of the message will read along the lines of “If you have any enquiries, please contact XXXXX”. Of course you will panic if you are nowhere near your Internet banking service, and immediately phone the number provided. The person who takes the call, however, will be a fraudster who will ask you for your Internet banking details. Once they have these, nothing stops them from accessing your banking online and transferring money wherever they want.
If the scammer asks for an ID number the real danger is identity theft. All they need to do is call Home Affairs (or an unscrupulous person who works there) and get a fake ID document and then Bob’s your uncle! (Or you’re Bob’s uncle, depending on your identity) This is all very scary stuff. So how do we prevent this from happening?
· First of all, be sensible. If it seems too good to be true, then it is. If you haven’t entered any competitions, then you can’t win any and lotteries don’t use sms to contact the winners. They most certainly don’t use personal mobile numbers to do it.
· Save the phone number of your bank on your mobile, and always phone your bank to verify potentially fraudulent SMS’s.
· Check network operator websites for reports on the latest SMS scams
· Report abuse to WASPA
If you get an sms of this kind there are websites specifically for reporting this kind of illegal behavior, known as advanced-fee fraud. Two I know of are:
Scambuster.co.za – Reporting Page – An independent site for posting scam content online
Or alternatively, let me know and I’ll claim the winnings for you. Just send me your banking details and your ID Number. *Name has been changed
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