The Top 10 Scam Types in South Africa

Today I want to inform you about the Top 10 Scam Types in South Africa. Unfortunately scammers don’t rest in this day and age and it’s important that Junk Mail users and the South African public be aware of this.

According to a spokesperson from the Hawks, cyber crime is costing South Africa millions every year, even though the scammers have to work hard to get a “hit”.  Most people will question dodgy communication from scammers, but unfortunately someone will always take the bait – one of the reasons why you will always get scammers looking to make a quick buck.

When it comes to scams remember the following 4 things:

  • If something sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
  • Never respond to an e-mail, SMS or phone call requiring you to submit personal information (even if it’s in the form of a threat to your account being suspended due to some third-party interference).
  • Never participate in any “sale of goods”, “survey”, “competition”, “lottery” or “inheritance” scheme requiring any personal information over the phone or the internet.
  • If you’re selling something, confirm payment with your bank before releasing the goods, and if you don’t remember entering a competition or buying a lottery ticket, you haven’t won anything.

Plain and simple, isn’t it? If you live by these 4 rules you should be okay. Check out the list op the top 10 scam types in South Africa below, I’m pretty sure that you’ll find this information useful:

  1. The 419 heartbreaker scam: This latest version of the 419 scam targets online dating sites. A girl or a guy romances someone over the internet for a few weeks and then comes up with a story that he / she been in a submarine accident and had lost all their money. Inevitably he / she asks their new found other half to send a cash advance to them. The 419 heartbreakers correspondence looks authentic and is oozing with charm, but in reality its being generated by criminal syndicates (usually made up of people of different nationalities).
  2. Phishing: Many of you are probably familiar with phishing. Fake E-mails are sent out by scammers. They claim that they’re from a bank (ABSA, Standard Bank or other South African banks) and that you have to do various things online to confirm your details, etc. All this is done in order to gain access to your bank accounts.
  3. Smishing: This is basically the SMS version of Phishing. South Africa has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world and it is a wide open field. Many people have received an SMS message requesting that verify their account or in some cases an alarmist message that you make a call rather than visiting a false link. The person on the other end of the line is a fraudster who is after personal information (include your PIN code).  Remember that no bank will ever ask you for your PIN code over the phone.
  4. False payment confirmations: Junk Mail users knows this scam as the SMS Payment confirmation scam. Basically a hoax payment confirmation SMS is sent out by the scammer to confirm payment and it appears to be from your bank. To best way to avoid being caught is to verify that money has been deposited into your account – always. Never release the goods that you’re selling if you aren’t 100% sure that you’ve received payment.
  5. Unethical app downloads charges: Scammers and unethical developers are now making use of premium-rated SMSes in an attempt to defraud people via the mobile applications they download onto their mobile phones. Google removed 22 applications from the Android cellphone market (now known as Google Play) because they conned people into agreeing to premium SMS charges. The first line of defence against any kind of SMS fraud is to thoroughly check your phone bill for any unusual amounts being deducted. Also Only download the more popular apps to avoid this scam.
  6. SIM Swops: One of the ways that a phishing scam can go is a SIM swop scam. The scammer already has your cellphone number and can get enough additional information to request a SIM swop from your network operator. That way they have access to both your bank account details and the SIM card needed to complete transactions. To prevent this SA mobile operators have increased security surrounding SIM swops and this kind of fraud is declining.
  7. Credit Card Skimming: This is a global problem. Credit Card Skimming usually takes place when a fraudster captures card data on devices similar to those used for legitimate point-of-sale or ATM transactions. These devices fit nicely over the card slot on an ATM and some of them even include a camera to record the PIN code. The main point of compromise in this kind of scam is when you hand your card to someone to do a transaction. Never let your card out of your sight and when entering your PIN, cover the PIN pad.
  8. Unscrupulous subscription services: Cellphone users should take note that unscrupulous wireless application service providers (WASPs) can bill any South African cell number and can even detect and record cell phone numbers if you’re browse their websites using your cellphone. On a mobile device all that is needed to bill you is your cellphone number. Make sure that you check your phone bills looking for charges you did not authorize or ongoing charges for subscription services that you did not realise were not once-offs
  9. Counterfit merchandise: Beware of fakes when you’re buying something expensive. It’s big business and a lot of it’s happening online. Recently police arrested four men who tried to con someone into buying fake gems (which had a value of R250,000). The person who was the mark for this scam set up a sting operation and the men were arrested. The gems turned out nothing more than four pieces of glass covered in the melted silicone tube from a TV set.
  10. Microsoft Scam: Scammers call you on your cellphone or home phone claiming to be working for Microsoft. They tell you that they have found out you have a problem with your home computer. They’ll ask you all sorts of questions and prompt you to do all sorts of things with your computer to sort out the problem. The aim of all of this is to get into your computer remotely so they can access all your private info. You could also be told that you’ve won the Microsoft Lottery and that Microsoft requires credit card information to validate your copy of Windows. Another one is unsolicited e-mails from Microsoft requesting a security update. All scams. Don’t get caught by them.

There you have it, information on the top 10 scam types in South Africa. I trust that you have found this information useful. If you encounter a scam or scammer when using the Junk Mail website, please report them to us. You can contact our Customer Care Department via or telephonically on 012-3423840 x2295 (during office hours). Check out our Safety & Security page for more scam warnings and useful tips.

The original article was posted in The Star on the 4th of October (today).

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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297 Responses

  1. Polly says:

    Hi there. I have a friend who fell for a scam attempt. She hasn’t paid money over yet- thank goodness, and isn’t planning on. However, she sent them her address and ID number. How can she subsequently protect the information? I’m more worried about the ID number.

    • Jani Grey says:

      Hi Polly,

      We are very happy to hear she didn’t pay any money yet. However, the ID could become a bit of an issue.

      Please request your friend to go to her nearest SAPS and sign an affidavit stating that she was conned into supplying the ‘seller’ those details and that should anything happen with her details, she can show that her ID was compromised. It is very important to do this as soon as possible, so that the date stamp can show a proactive approach.

      Kind regards,
      The Junk Mail Team

  2. Merle says:

    My Wife Just recently advertised an Item for sale on the OLX App in October 20417 and was contacted by a UK Resident (Rose Johnson) and thy communicated by e-mail as mentioned below. The sad part is that whilst my wife was honest it appears the other side was not. First my wife was told to open a PayPal account and then the trouble really started. The buyer add additional costs to the purchase and informed my wife that she should pay this money from her Bank account via a Money order before the Money in the PayPal account could be realest. may wife unfortunately did this and then an additional cost for Insurance materialized which again she MUST pay before the PayPal amount would reflected as available in her account. When she explained that she did not have the required amount available things became nasty and now everything has gone quite.

  3. Mpho says:

    Hi. There is a guy called Zachariah Letsatsi Mofokeng who stays in Cosmo City, JHB and is originally from the Vaal. He targets women from various dating sites and asks them to borrow him money for his export/import business and disappears. He has scammed 5 women of almost R500 000,00. Please be careful ladies!!! This guy is sick!!

    • Jani Grey says:

      Hi Mpho,

      Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. If this has anything to do with a listing/placement on our website, please send the link along with any additional information you might have to

      Kind regards,
      The Junk Mail Team

  4. Mbatha says:

    You forgot to mention college scams. Nanda Sooben operated multiple art schools for nearly 2 years after losing registration due to not meeting quality requirements.

    He kept CFAD open illegally and took money from us parents and students. Without being able to offer any of us genuine qualifications. He lied about his colleges being registered and took our money! Yet he paints himself as a victim. Now that’s a scam.

  5. Kantha Naidoo says:

    Beware of George who purports to be from a Stock-broking platform called IEquity. He takes your
    R21 000.00 and is never available to deliver on his promises. He is a scam or con artist and operates throughout South Africa.
    he arranges an appointment with you and puts forward a very convincing pitch where you can “trade on the stock market with his programme in a particular way that guarantees your returns. he also brings in Byron Lovegrove who also lies and makes false promises, altho they appear to know a lot about the stock market.You have to, in addition to the R 21000.00, deposit money into a Nedbank account that is probably his. But the platform he sells you is non existent. Many people have been conned.

    • Jani Grey says:

      Hi Kantha,

      Thank you for letting others know about his. If this is available anywhere on Junk Mail, please send an email with all the details to and we will look into it from our side.

      Kind regards,
      The Junk Mail Team

  6. Clarah says:

    All I can say is be careful with Guarantor Loans the name of the lady is Janice R Adams a very swift scammer. She scammed me R7,300 last night.

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