Be wary of Scamsters

SMS and email scamsters, ever on the lookout for new gullible victims, have taken to luring people to part with money or their personal details with false promises that they have won a fabulous prize. “The minute you are requested to incur costs of whatever nature in lieu of what has been promised, should be sufficient warning that something is not right with the transaction,” said SA Banking Risk Information Centre general manager for commercial crime, Susan Potgieter, on Thursday.

“The public should be wary of any promises of easy money; the sweeter the deal sounds, the more likely it is part of a scam.”

Known as “advance fee fraud”, tactics include asking the supposed recipient of a grand prize to send the code number of a cellphone recharge voucher, or asked for money, or for personal details. The notices usually appear convincing, but Potgieter reiterated what banks keep telling people: don’t part with personal details by SMS or email and don’t give personal details to people claiming to be from the bank or a company you do business with unless you are absolutely sure the person you are dealing with is to be trusted. People who realise they have been duped, or suspect they have been duped, should contact their bank immediately.

Some red flags to look out for:

  • Be cautious of any official or business dealings where the main means of communication is a cellphone number or email. It is very rare for a well established company to use cellphone numbers as its main contact details with the public.
  • Verify that the email address from which the email is sent is that of the company that it purportedly comes from.
  • Be suspicious when you are requested to incur any costs disguised as “administration fees” or “processing fees”.
  • Always act with caution when you are suddenly informed that you have won a prize in a competition that you have not entered.
  • Query the reasonableness of a well established company requesting you to send them cellphone recharge vouchers. The probability is that the cellphone airtime that you send is actually used to defraud even more unsuspecting people.

A recent scam dressed itself as official communication from LG Electronics. It read: “Congratulations!! Your no. was among the lucky winners on the LG Annual PROMOTION. You won R200 000. Ticket no. 0188P. Call your Claim Agent Mr Douglas Smith on 0710282774. For Your Cash immediately from 08am 06pm. Sender no. 27784435162. Sent 22:36:06, 03/03/2010.” LG Electronics immediately sent out an alert that the SMS was part of a scam and not linked to the company.

This article was published on IOL on the 29th of July 2010. For more scam warnings check out the Safety & Security section on the Junk Mail blog.

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi there

    For the time being I would like the details to remain confidential. Let me explain:

    I get a response from my advert (selling a piece of jewelry) from person x, who proceeds to explain (via email) that he is an “oceanographer” by trade and that he is currently out at sea. He claims to be buying the jewelry for a collegue in Western Africa. Very politely he insisted that he would be willing to take the jewelry off my hands for the asked price plus whatever applicable shipping fees, payed either via PayPal or EFT transfer. I then responded that I would need a receipient’s address first in order to calculate shipping fees and to (go out of my way to) arrange it. I also said I would only send my banking details once I have calculated a final price incl shipment and warned “PS! Goods will only be released once the full payment has cleared into my bank account”. He then returned another mail with an address somewhere in Nigeria and said that he hopes to hear from me again soon.

    Now, so far so good right?

    I mean, if the guy pays the money into my account electronically – AND IT CLEARS – then I would be more than happy to go through the trouble of having it shipped anywhere in the world for that matter, seeing as he’s paying extra for it.

    But still somehow, somewhere deep down inside something feels a little dodge about this, so I was considering to perhaps take the case to a police station so that if it turns out to be a con, I could maybe assist in picking up a lead on some of these guys. Which is why I wanted to keep it anonymous for now.

    I have not contacted this person again, or given him my banking details yet because I felt it would be better to seek expert advise first before going through with the deal.

    Any thoughts/fellings or advise would be greatly appreciated, please contact me through the email address that I provided.

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Anonymous – Thank you for reporting this event to JunkMail! We commend you on being vigilant and reading the warning signs, avoiding being caught by these scamsters! Please do not send them any money or your banking details. Please send me all the correspondence that you have received from this person and we will forward them to the cyber crime unit of the police for their further investigation. Please confirm with Paypal if the user has an account with them before you do the transfer.

      As JunkMail is the largest classified advertising publication, with over 40000 ads per week, we recognise the value in keeping our clients aware and informed of information that can increase their safety when buying or selling through the classified medium. We have a dedicated marketing team that writes these messages that are then placed on our Facebook Page and Twitter profiles as Notes and blog posts. We do this on a regular basis once we identify a new scam or scammer so that all our users can read these messages and be better informed when they are buying and selling. We send out email campaigns that specifically warn buyers and sellers of the threats of scams and as you know we have an Avoid Scam’ section (http://www.junkmail.co.za/hints-and-tips-to-avoid-scams) on the Junk Mail website to alert users about all the many cons in the marketplace. Please review this link (http://www.junkmail.co.za/blog/safety/security) to read all the Scam Posts we have ever written for you to make note of when trading in future.

      Thank you for using Junk Mail for your classified needs and for your help in ensuring that others can also do so safely.

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