Woman loses R800 000 in cell scam

2012-07-19 16:28

Johannesburg - A total of R800 000 was transferred out of a Kempton Park woman's paid-up mortgage account in a cellphone scam, the Beeld reported on Thursday.

The woman, Rensu Nel, an education specialist at the Gauteng education department, told the newspaper she received strange phone calls.

"I turned my phone off after a man continued to call me without saying anything. A filthy SMS was also sent to my phone."

When Nel later tried to switch her phone on, she could not and later realised that her phone had been blocked.

Nel became suspicious after a stranger phoned her to inform her that he lost R200 000 after someone used his number to phone her number.

The newspaper reported that fraudsters transferred the money, in two separate amounts of R500 000 and R300 000, out of her Absa mortgage-account on Monday, and into Standard Bank and Nedbank accounts.

Absa referred Nel to its fraud unit. The bank confirmed it was investigating, but told Beeld it could not provide any information to the media.

SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) spokesperson Bongani Diako told the newspaper fraudsters operated by swapping sim cards with service providers and then blocking the old sim cards.

"They will get a temporary number, obtain bank information, and commit fraud."

Diako said Sabric would work with mobile service providers to stop this fraud.

  • Denise - 2012-07-19 16:47

    This article really needs to be fleshed out. Talk about writing an article without having any real facts to hand.

  • masamune.azeem - 2012-07-19 16:48

    Useless piece of article, tell me how its done and how i can protect myself from such actions

  • Pieter Baartman - 2012-07-19 16:49

    Just another reason why I don't trust cell phone banking especially internet banking. I really get irritated whenever I do something at a bank brance the tellers always asking me to register for cellphone banking

      SunblushStarfish - 2012-07-19 17:48

      Next time that teller tells you to register for cellphone banking tell them you'd be delighted to because that means the need for (useless) banking teller staff will become obsolete. Morons.

  • sedeshan - 2012-07-19 16:51

    This article tells me nothing except to be wary of "strange" phone calls.

  • barker.ruing - 2012-07-19 16:54

    Gooooogle = phishing vishing smishing to find out how this fraud is perpetuated

  • braamc - 2012-07-19 16:55

    Useless article

      thokozane.maloka - 2012-07-20 15:35

      Not as useless as this comment.

  • martin.britchford.5 - 2012-07-19 16:57

    i just do not use a bank, never had a scam problem.

      mark.grant.77920 - 2012-07-19 17:03

      Are u for real Martin??

      SunblushStarfish - 2012-07-19 17:47

      And you live where, with the Amish?

      craig.elliott.75 - 2012-07-19 20:44

      you are living in denial martin... have u ever heard of a cellphone? laptop? ipad ?? you know all the amenities of a modern day civilian... welcome to the 21st century my son :}

      aristar.aristary - 2012-07-20 04:11

      If one has a bank account, one is automatically scammed by the bank. In the bad old days one got interest for investing money with banks, now one has to pay the bank for the honour of depositing money with them. They are the biggest thieves AND we are encouraged to use them. A solution would be to remove your whole salary from the account, every month and sleep with it or spend it on a tradeable item. Money is not worth anything as a trading medium because its value just keeps falling.

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-07-20 07:17

      Keep your money under the mattress do you?

      barker.ruing - 2012-07-20 13:15

      We stash our cash in the mattress.

      aristar.aristary - 2012-07-20 19:22

      keith.roberts.98434 - at least I don't have to pay exorbitant bank charges and I can get discount for cash AND I don't have any accounts. Besides paper feels quite comfortable once you have washed it. ;>

  • Anakin - 2012-07-19 16:58

    What about RICA??!! How on earth did they obtain a "temporary number"? Someone on the inside from the service providers must be helping them, I hope they track these fraudsters: we were all told that RICA is THE answer to stop this type of sim-swapping fraud.

      Aaron - 2012-07-19 17:25

      And FICA? They transferred the money to accounts at other banks. How were those accounts opened? Why are they are not instantly traceable given the amount of documentation required when you open ANY account?? It can only mean that the banks in question never bothered to actually verify the information they were given and happily accepted fake ID's and proof of addresses. And presumably the moneys long gone out of those accounts by now in cash/ATM withdrawals. So how did the banks fail to get proper FICA information and then allow massive transfers and withdrawals out of those accounts with no questions asked???

      fussed.anderson - 2012-07-19 17:29

      Must be goverment

      ian.flack2 - 2012-07-19 17:32

      RICA is a waste of time, how can you trace anyone who is allowed to register using a church, shopping Center etc as a valid residence?

      charmaine.paterson1 - 2012-07-19 18:22

      And my father, who has had the same bank account for more than 35 years, cannot FICA his account with a sworn statement because the banks don't accept sworn statements due to all the fraud.

  • clive.kihn - 2012-07-19 17:05

    Surely the answer is to not use cellphone banking? At least until the banks and cellphone companies can assure us this sort of thing has been made totally stamped out - if this is possible.

      Aaron - 2012-07-19 17:36

      The issue isn't really "cellphone banking". This could have happened with a physical account as well. The cellphone only comes into it presumably because they wanted to block her transaction alerts and/or obtain transaction confirmation codes. The major fraud is how they even knew she had a fully paid up mortgage account, how they knew her cell number, how they managed to do a SIM swap and open other bank accounts and all of this despite the FICA and RICA laws.

      SunblushStarfish - 2012-07-19 17:46

      With all the fraud going on in SA and the problems one has with just normal banking you would think people would think so Clive but apparently not. I don't even conduct online internet banking from home because one can never be sure who intercepts or has access to your data. You have to be smart in order to safe.

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-07-20 07:24

      If Aaron is right then it is obvious that the real culprit works in the bank or at her lawyers office. There's a lesson here. Cancel your paid-up mortgage bond, don't leave it open as banks often suggest (so that you have access to quick money). Also, if you have spare money put it on fixed deposit, it is hard to get banks to release the money early.

      comurray - 2012-07-20 11:42

      I have been invited by my bank on many occassions to register with cell phone banking. But because of so much fraud have not even considered it for which I'm thankful, although the amount I have in my account would not interest a scam of this nature.

  • gavin.badenhorst.9 - 2012-07-19 17:06

    How is it possible to do a sim swap without getting hold of a person's phone and if you can get it done through the service provider then they must of got hold of her particulars somehow.The service provider is unsafe to give such information unless the person is working for a service provider and how do they obtain your account numbers unless she told the guy what it was.

  • mock.turtle.50 - 2012-07-19 17:08

    RICA actually makes these kind of scams easier to perpetrate - in a (obviously unsecure) government database somewhere your personal details are tied to your cellphone number.

  • Linda - 2012-07-19 17:13

    My understanding is that Banks have to have all the FICA information for an account holder. Similarly cell service providers have to have all the RICA information for a client. Therefore, it should be simple to identify and apprehend these criminals. Sadly this is SA - where the making laws it one thing - and implementation is another i.e. non existent. The banks and cell providers should be held responsible for refunding this loss because they dont appear to have complied with legislation.

      tigra.aeris - 2012-07-20 07:52

      You cannot just hold the bank responsible (although they could be partially responsible). Either this is a very sophisticated fraud with multiple accomplices at the bank AND at the cell service provider OR (much more likely) this woman went and GAVE the crooks her information through responding to a phishing mail/sms. Good grief people - it's not internet banking or cellphone banking that isn't secure, it's the stoopid bank account holders who respond to phishing attempts that cause the security breach. How many times must the bank tell people to NEVER click on a link to update banking details but to rather type in the web address in the web browser themselves?!? I'm already so sick and tired of reading that message every single time I login to internet banking that I can't understand how others can ignore it!

  • grace.andtruth.77 - 2012-07-19 17:15

    That sounds WAY too easy???? R800 000 just like that? No signatures, ID's, proof of residence required by the bank for such a large amount??? Hmmmmm

      grace.andtruth.77 - 2012-07-19 17:30

      Fannie I AM aware of that! My point is THAT amount of money - even electronic transfers have a daily limit, and honestly R800 000 should have been queried

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-07-20 12:20

      Some people remove all limits of all transactions, not a good idea.

      nadia.graf.50 - 2012-07-20 14:12

      Grace no one queries Bank Transfers. You set you limit and transfer what you need to.

  • anele.cweya - 2012-07-19 17:15

    Now that both cellphone provider nd bank knows dat waz a fraud,cnt they freeze those two account from absa nd standard until case solve,I stand to be corrected

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-07-20 12:22

      Electronic transfers can be done immediately now, even between different banks. It just costs extra. The crooks usually withdraw the whole amount available the same day.

  • Aaron - 2012-07-19 17:20

    So why do we bother with FICA and RICA? Law abiding citizens are subjected to the continual irritation of FICA and RICA regulations, and yet it is abundantly clear from these incidents that they amount to nothing because apparently criminals can clone SIM cards and transfer money to bank accounts with impunity and remain untraceable. We should all be asking serious questions about the paper-generating farce known as FICA/RICA etc.

      antin.herinck - 2012-07-19 18:11

      Yes, we had to go through all this RICA BS. With the schlep and all the costs to the service provider (for which we paid -of course) Only to see that this can go on easily, hindered. Oh what a pathetic bunch of retarded control freaks they are.

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-07-20 07:31

      We, my wife & I, get all sorts of annoying calls from people wanting to sell us something or some service, usually BEE certification, but as we have little or no money we haven't had our bank account raided. YET. I suppose the criminals might get desperate enough to steal enough to buy a Wimpy burger.

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-07-20 07:32

      I meant to make the point that all the callers say they got our details from Rica.

  • SunblushStarfish - 2012-07-19 17:41

    ABSA needs to take responsibility here. Who in their right mind allows sums of money like that to be transferred (randomly!) to other banks without proper due diligence being carried out. The banking system in SA is a farce and geared to fraud and loss. ABSA is the biggest culprit and even though I live in the Cayman Islands, daily get phishing emails which I have passed their fraud department and NOTHING gets done. Banks can't look after your money so the consumer needs to assume the responsibility. DON'T bank on your cellphones. Put limits on your accounts. Choose your bank responsibly.

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-07-19 18:08

      Agree. The cellphone service provider is also guilty. How can you just swap sims like that?

      sarah.bouttell - 2012-07-19 19:14

      This is the 5th absa client I have heard of in as many days. I will wager good money that their internet banking has been compromised from the inside. How embarrasing. Rule 1 of PR - deny, deny, deny...

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-07-20 07:36

      But, Sunblush, the criminals are apparently able to change all of your safeguards. Can one insure against things like this?

  • james.otter.10 - 2012-07-19 18:08

    An 'inside' job with considerable collusion, probably involving employees of bank and cellphone service provider. Considerable planning and technical knowledge required. Frightening.

  • john.nel.927 - 2012-07-19 18:08

    And did you know there are two different FICA Acts? I know of a case where R1.5 mil was fraudulently skimmed out of a Standard Bank account over a weekend. It was transferred to 30 Nedbank accounts. These accounts were opened by "poor" people with no fixed address and no ID (or a false ID). Nedbank explained that people who are "poor" and live in the townships needn't provide proof of ID and proof of address (eg utility bill). They are exempt!!! So its a law for one but not for the others... and hey presto the Nigerians can rip off the system!

      joseph.ade.5 - 2012-07-19 19:01

      idiot!! did you have to mention Nigerians? this is a crime committed by and on South Africans. Leave Nigerians out of this. hey don't work in our Banks neither do they have insider knowledge of how our banks work. Idiot!!!!!

      yolande.rwaai - 2012-07-20 06:38

      Actually Joseph; I happen to know for a FACT that Nigerians are involved. Yes, they don't work at the bank but they work with the people who work at banks!

      Bless Boswell - 2012-07-20 09:03

      Hey Joseph, why so very angry? Guilty conscience?

  • RiD123 - 2012-07-19 20:04

    cant the Bank trace to which accounts the monies were transferred to ? and the respective account owners? or is this where the Nigerian 419 scam spam comes in place?

  • Adair - 2012-07-19 20:27

    The public need to be informed by the banks and the cell phone companies how this works.The banks do not do enough to combat fraud against their clients.

      RiD123 - 2012-07-20 16:37

      the banks should be combatting their clients against fraud and not "combatting fraud against their clients"....?

  • sonny.brilliant - 2012-07-19 21:01

    There are too many factors involved to pull this one of, There are inside people in both the banks and the cellphone companies.

  • joe.duanne - 2012-07-19 21:48

    Erm .... "Captain Hendrick Mokonyane said the Vodacom engineer was arrested at VodaWorld, Midrand, and had a bachelor of science engineering (BSE) degree. The other syndicate member was arrested at Caltex garage in Olifansfontein before he withdrew more money fraudulently." 1 + 1 = ...?

  • stephen.sackiy - 2012-07-19 23:45

    The banks are the prime suspect

  • aristar.aristary - 2012-07-20 04:02

    Good reason not to own anything in South Africa. If you own nothing it cannot be stolen. Viva poverty. :>

      keith.roberts.98434 - 2012-07-20 07:39

      You have just decribed me!

      aristar.aristary - 2012-07-20 19:24

      I want to own nothing. I want to leave nothing to my selfish little witch of a niece.

  • siliziwem - 2012-07-20 07:57

    you can get shot while gettin shot in this country!

  • dorette.forrester - 2012-07-20 08:42

    What I do not understand is, isn't these FICA requirements by banks suppose to protect us from this kind of thing?? This is the 3rd incident that I'm aware of where ABSA was involved.

  • selebaleng.mashike - 2012-07-20 09:35

    This is ridiculous. I have this company using different reference to activate debit order on my account. I have never subscribed with that company. So what I do, after they debited my account and it that debit order has notified on my cellphone, I run to the bank to reverse the debit order. But can't the banks do something to combat this kind of fraud. this is really sickening.

  • vincent.mpongoshe - 2012-07-20 09:49

    TO Mischeck I am a Capitec customer. Yes I use internet banking as well and I must say it is more secured at Capitec Bank. You have a small device when you do transaction the one time password are sent there. you just switch it on and you get your 6 digits password. I was with Standard Bank before and the one time password are sent via phone which is dangerous, cause if criminals have your bank card and your phone number, proof of residential address as well as ID cause when you call the standard bank call center they will ask for an ID number, phone number, residential address, work telephone number of which that info its easy to get and they will reset your pin and send it to your phone. I will make an example with std bank when you login to internet banking you put your card number, pin (not your atm pin) and password. you can forget the pin and the password but if you have a card then you can call and confirm your details like your id number, address etc. then they (std bank) will resert both your pin and your password. Still buggers me how can they be allowed to do such a transaction. The key thing here is banks needs to have controlls that can minimise these threats. Its still buggers me with std bank you need to go to the branch to link other accounts. The token key for me is the key but this should be kept in a safe place at home. Thats my take on this story.

      RiD123 - 2012-07-20 16:38

      And thats why Capitec is not one of the major Banks in SA!

  • carolyn.koekemoer - 2012-07-20 10:33

    I know exactly how she feels as I have also been involved with the same type of fraud amounting to R15 200-00. On the 19.06.2012 between 00h30 and 01h30 I was involved in a Sim Swop / Internet Banking Scam where 2 large amounts were via internet banking trasferred from my account into a Standard Bank account. When I discovered what happened and phoned Absa fraud they were aware of the transactions. I had to complete a electronic banking fraud report for investigation to take place, when reporting this I was told by the fraud section as well as the customer service person at the East Rand Mall branch that I would get my money back. After waiting patiently I got a call on the 04.07.2012 to be told that Absa is not liable for my loss. After being an Absa client for 30 years, I get told that I have been a VICTIM OF CRIME and that ABSA is not liable for the alleged loss as all disputed transactions were effected by means of my PIN known only to me. I am not the first and will not be the last one that this happens to. I am not happy with the outcome and if necessary I will be taking this further even if it means getting a lawyer involved and suing Absa. I will be moving my portfolio to another banking institution. Since this has happened to me I have taken note that Absa is the only bank that does not take responsibility to refund there clients - most other banks refund you within 14 days. This syndicate together with vodacom employees are soon to be arrested by the hawks.

  • bmaestro - 2012-07-20 10:59

    unbilievably true....strange world we live in nowadays #shocked

  • - 2012-07-20 11:14


  • elias.b.molomo - 2012-07-20 11:29

    Mobile providers r the ones who 's gonna fraud us

  • riotousr - 2012-07-20 11:31

    Easy pissy

  • justinasher - 2012-07-20 11:54

    There's no way they can do a sim swop without ID - even if it is done, they can pick up and see exactly which consultant/store did the transaction. This is all a bit retarded. Until it happens to me, I believe people give out their info FAR too easily.

  • Michelle - 2012-07-20 12:35

    From what I know the bank don't even confirm your account number over the need to go in with your id.

  • nicolene.kotze1 - 2012-07-20 13:10

    how is this happening? you're supposed to RICA your sim before it gets activated, so they should be able to catch these guys quickly...?

  • chris.khanye - 2012-07-20 13:47

    This is frightening to say the least.

  • chris.khanye - 2012-07-20 13:50

    You can RICA without the relevant documentation in most corner shops in South Africa and who runs most of these corner shops? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • patrick.hankey.5 - 2012-07-20 14:21


  • Heinrich - 2012-07-20 14:23

    I blame the cellphone companies. This whole Rica stuff was pushed down hard and everybody had to scramble. cellphone companies didn't score anything from the deal , why would they comply to all the laws.

      thabo.mabaso - 2012-07-20 15:24's sad...but at times a said "victim" gives the details to crooks herself. at times the victim is an can help make their own money "disappear". they can create a convincing scenario with outsiders, one that is so wateright and unsuspicious that the bank will be compelled to take the fall and pay. it may not be the case with this lady and i hope it isnt. if it isnt and it's clear that there was neglegence on the bank's side, then they should pay her, finish and klaar.i hope she really gets her hard earned cash back and whoever is responsible faces the might of the law fully. this society is sick and filled with nothing but greed.

  • patrick.makgeledise - 2012-07-20 15:19

    This is unbelievable, someone knew her personal information and used it correctly, thats why he kept on calling her.

  • bounca363 - 2012-07-20 17:18

    7de laan all over again.

  • Khayoh Mfiswah - 2012-07-20 19:19

    Doz ppl r Chinese

  • stefaans.blaauw - 2012-07-20 19:44

    Welcome to the new SA, It is flodded with foreighners, Nigerians, and fraudsters. Its gonna get MUCH worse. keep your eyes and ears wide open. This is when Tegenology is against you. Sorry for your loss, and I hope the bank will pay your money back, they are insured, not you.

  • Thabo@Shaku - 2012-07-20 20:44

    The ultimate answer to this type of fraud lies in a biometric system instead of PINS!!!!

  • jhon.gills - 2012-07-25 03:32

    I think everybody should check out the Scam Detector app. I believe they're online as well.

  • makaya.gogela - 2012-08-11 16:16

    Terrible story

  • nela.costa - 2012-12-03 13:56

    So based on the responses below, phishing can only occur should you repsond/open an email from fraudsters? doesnt it stand to reason that is you know no transaction has been requested, dont open-delete or contact the branch immediatly without signing in ? and how does a bank reset a password without signatory confirmation or having to go into the branch?

  • friedrich.kruger - 2012-12-03 14:03

    Somehow I don't think we have been given all the facts. The woman may even have inadvertantly given some personal details which enabled the fraudster to access her accounts. People don't like to admit that they got caught through their own fault. As for me I don't do cellphone banking I would feel way too vulnerable. It is also important to never respond to unsolicited sms's (same applies to emails), don't cancel advertising simply delete them. Never "udate" your details online in response to sms's or emails. I have the odd call from my bank asking me to upgrade Credit Card limit or veryfying certain details and I will always tell them that I will not do this on the phone but will go to my branch and do whatever needs to be done there.

  • Mpisi Thembelani - 2013-03-12 09:00

    this thing of bank fraudulent is worrying me, i think i quite storing my mony on banks till all those vulnerabilities are covered