Local’s phone fraud ordeal

2018-05-16 16:00
Woman lost over R11k after sim was hacked.

Woman lost over R11k after sim was hacked. (File)

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More than a year after falling victim to sim swap fraudsters, a Pietermaritzburg resident is still suffering the consequences.

Mbalenhle Nsuntsha from Edendale lost R11 300 due to the fraud after the sim card in her cell phone was hacked.

She told The Witness how soon after her cellphone sim card had stopped working and she was persuaded to do a sim swap she’d watched in horror as message after message appeared on her phone indicating that numerous transactions — varying from R1 000 to R5 000 each — were being paid out of her account.

According to her, the ordeal started after she lost network coverage soon after receiving a phone call from someone who masqueraded as a Cell C call centre agent.

Nsuntsha told The Witness that the bogus agent told her that the mobile network had received a request for a sim swap from her cellphone number.

A few hours after the call, she was unable to make or receive calls or SMSs.

“At first I suspected that it might be a scam but the woman on the line sounded very professional and I was convinced that she really worked for Cell C.”

Although Nsuntsha said she had declined to have the sim swap done, she added that the “agent” informed her that the mobile network would block her number because the request had already been logged.

“I eventually gave in and we proceeded to do the sim swap. She [the agent] didn’t ask any suspicious security questions about my bank account; neither did she request my bank pin. She only asked me to provide her with three separate passwords to process the sim swap.”

Thereafter, Nsuntsha said, she received numerous SMSs, which were purportedly from Cell C, confirming that she had done a sim swap.

“After receiving those notifications I lost network coverage for three hours.”

The resident said that when she switched the phone on again, she received SMSs.

“Many of them were from my bank and I realised that money had been deducted from my account, without me being aware of it.”

Nsuntsha said that, the following day, she went to Capitec and the matter was reported to the bank’s forensic section, which identified that fraud had been committed.

A summary of her banking details shows all the transactions and numerous purchases of prepaid airtime and electricity vouchers.

A beneficiary was created on her account and a total of five transactions were made, transferring money from her account to the beneficiary, until the limit on her cheque account was reached.

In total, R11 300 was paid out from her account — excluding 20 amounts for prepaid airtime and seven amounts for prepaid electricity.

“I have no idea how it happened. I have never received any funny e-mails or given out my passwords to anyone.”

She stated that Capitec indicated that the matter had been referred to their forensic division and that they had issued her with the name of the person who defrauded her.

“I have no idea who the beneficiary is of the account into which the money was paid.”

She said that the amount defrauded from her account had been a loan to finish building her house.

“The loan has gone up to R33 300 including interest. I have also been blacklisted because I refused to pay for money I didn’t use.”

Responding to the alleged fraud, the Capitec communication department confirmed that Nsuntsha had been defrauded of R11 300.

By the time the bank was made aware of incident, the majority of the funds had been used, a spokesperson said.

The bank said they’d refunded her the sum of R2 970,28 that was the amount that was “salvaged”.

Capitec said it was unable to compensate her for the full amount because “the bank cannot be held liable as the safeguarding of bank cards and personalised PIN numbers remains the client’s responsibility”.

Cell C also confirmed that the matter was reported to them.

“Cell C will never contact its customers to request personal information, nor will we request them to ignore SMSs pertaining to sim swaps and porting requests,” it said in a response.

Pietermaritzburg police station spokesperson Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo confirmed that a case of theft was being investigated after a charge was laid.

HOW DO FRAUDTERS GAIN ACCESS TO YOUR ACCOUNT?

According to Capitec, there are various ways in which fraudsters can obtain the confidential cell phone logon information required to access a bank client’s account using the mobile banking platform.

A common theme in such cases is that the fraudster obtains the confidential cellphone banking access information directly from the banking client.

Capitec says that this fraud involves fraudulent SMSs sent to bank clients in an effort to obtain the client’s confidential banking credentials from them. The SMSs used by the fraudsters often seem genuine, as the content of the SMS implies that it was sent from a legitimate financial institution.

This SMS is usually followed up by a phone call from the fraudsters — usually from a private number. The purpose of the phone call is to trick the client into divulging their personal details such as the mobile banking PIN. The fraudsters often utilise confidential and private information about the client to convince them that the phone call is in fact legitimate. The fraudster can obtain this information by various legal or illegal methods from various sources, which may have nothing to do with the bank.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  fraud

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