The BRICS countries' New Development Bank (NDB) warns of an e-mail scam in which criminals, posing as bank employees, are trying to defraud the public.
The NDB finances infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and other emerging economies and developing countries.
It is not a commercial bank and does not open accounts for individuals, provide them with loans or offer any form of financing. Nor does it ask for payments or any other "favours" from potential recipients of funding.
"The New Development Bank does not send unsolicited e-mails or any other communication asking people to open a personal bank account, transfer money, or provide personal information," says Monale Ratsoma, NDB director general for the Africa Regional Centre (ARC).
"Any such communication is fraudulent. Do not respond and report it immediately to the South African Police Service."
Scams should also be reported to the South African Fraud Prevention Services.
According to The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), fraudulent activity tends to increase over the festive season when year-end bonuses are paid and when consumers may not be as vigilant as usual.
A typical ploy is to send an e-mail or other communication that appears to come from a bank or other trustworthy source requesting personal information such as identity documents, driver’s licences, passports, payslips, addresses and contact details.
Fraudsters then use this information to open bank or retail accounts or take out loans for which the victim is accountable. They can even try to impersonate people, and using social engineering, access bank accounts and do transactions.
Another version of the scam is to offer a very attractive loan or other financing at low interest rates. The recipient of the e-mail or message is then asked to pay an administration or other upfront free in order to qualify. The offer is often for a limited period to try and pressure people into responding.
The public should be very wary about responding to unsolicited messages. Scammers use a variety of channels including e-mail, mail, phone and social media. Verify all requests for personal information and only provide it when there is a legitimate reason to do so.
Be suspicious of e-mails or messages that contain spelling or grammatical errors or other inconsistencies such as Gmail addresses, rather than a company domain e-mail.
Be wary of requests for upfront payments or payment for goods or services you haven't or don't remember ordering, especially if you're asked to use an unusual payment method such as MoneyGram.
For more information about how to protect against scams, see here.