SOUTH AFRICANS are losing more than R2.2 billion a year through internet scams, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) says.
Sabric chairperson Kalyani Pillay said many South Africans are mindful of their physical security, but needed to be as mindful when it came to cyber security.
“On social media people often communicate blindly and don’t have privacy settings.”
Sabric general manager Kevin Twiname said the increased prevalence of romance scams, where victims’ emotions were exploited, was worrying and very difficult to curb.
“While online dating and romance scams were initially perpetrated by fraudsters, who were either operating alone or in relatively small syndicated groups, organised criminals have now entered this arena and the scale and sophistication of these scams has increased significantly in recent times.”
Such communications are usually confidential and very personal, and victims are often too embarrassed to publicly admit to being manipulated, and ultimately defrauded.
He warned that criminals would use any tactics to access confidential information.
“Criminals often use phishing to trick you into disclosing your personal information such as user names, passwords, credit card details and mobile phone numbers. They sometimes also request your One Time Password that will be sent to your mobile phone.
“They do this by sending e-mails that look like they come from trusted sources, such as banks or legitimate companies.”
These e-mails entice the recipient to respond by clicking on a hyperlink.
Unknowing victims are diverted to a fraudulent website under the control of the criminal. Any information that you enter on this page will be sent to the criminals.
“The information harvested in this manner is then used by criminals to access your online banking profile illegally. Once they have viewed your profile and find that there is money to be accessed, they will commit fraud on your internet banking account.”