Warning: SIM Swops Being Used to Access Bank Accounts

The scammers out there are launching another assault on the South African public. The Junk Mail team feels that its our duty to inform you of this malicious scam that could leave you with an empty bank account and a non-working cell phone.

Be warned. Fraudsters are using cellphone SIM swops to access bank accounts in a new scam. The fraudster sends an SMS from a number similar to that from which customers received banking notifications. The SMS will indicate a problem on your account and a person pretending to be a bank consultant will contact you. When the consultant contacts you, they will start by confirming the details regarding your account number and then ask you what kind of phone you are using. Just by having this quick conversation with you, these fraudsters now have all the information they need to rob your bank account.

The fraudsters will then contact your cellphone service provider and perform a SIM swop. They will then be able to receive one-time PINs and/or random verification numbers from your bank and have access to your bank account(s). By the time you realised your cellphone number was not working, all of your money would be out of your account.

Be warned that other criminals are also capitalising on the SIM-swop scams by sending out mass e-mails, purportedly from the addressee’s bank, that required internet banking customers to click on a link to verify details or risk their accounts being deactivated. One of the e-mails states: “Due to the growing reports of ongoing sim-swop scam (sic) whereby your phone number is swopped to get access to your account, FNB has initiated an online security upgrade procession which you will need to complete by clicking on the link below this message to complete the process. “Failure to do this will lead to the suspension and possible deactivation of your account until we can verify you as the genuine account owner.”

SA Banking Risk Information Centre urges that all bank customers be vigilant and asks that consumers report this type of unusual events immediately.

Vodacom asks that all its customers contact the Vodacom call centre (082 111) immediately if they received an SMS notifying them of a SIM swop they had not requested. Vodacom will investigate each reported case and referred it to the police.

FNB has confirmed that the security update e-mail is fraudulent.  All consumers should “never” try to access their online banking through a link, and should “never” respond to a request that they update or reconfirm their banking details because such requests were phishing.

What is a Phishing scam? Phishing is when criminals, aiming to steal identities, send e-mails claiming to be from a recognised organisation, to get online banking customers to reveal sensitive information. Clicking on a link directs the targets to a fake website where they will be asked to enter sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details or bank account numbers. Once these details are given, they are e-mailed to the fraudsters, and the customer is redirected to the legitimate website. FNB notifies all their clients to report all phishing e-mails and scams to a mailbox which is monitored daily. You can report phishing scams to FNB at 087 575 0011.

Should you receive an SMS notifying you of a SIM swop you did not request, or suspect any other incidence of fraud committed via your cellphone network, use one of the following numbers. For Cell C users: dial 140 or 084 140, for MTN users: dial 083 123 7867, for Telkom/8ta users: dial 080 012 4000, for Vodacom users: dial 082 111

Should you encounter this scam or another scam of this kind, please report it to us via e-mail to ccc@junkmail.co.za or via phone on 012-3423840 x2295.

Do yourself a favour and read these other informative scam related posts on the Junk Mail blog:

This article was originally published in The Mercury on the 15th of February 2012.

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    This exact scam happened to my friend’s father! Its really pathetic that cell phone providers do not have proper procedures in place when doing sim swaps! They should be held liable. So disgusted at these scams.

  2. Torger says:

    Never answer an unidentifiable number(private or unknown on cell screen) These morons never leave a message and want you to give a date of birth or to complete a date of birth or to do this with an id number and say you need life insurance on a credit card

  3. Theresa says:

    Thx for warning me.I appreciate it.

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