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.