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SA sim-swap fraud more than doubles in a year: SABRIC

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Sim-swap fraud in South Africa has more than doubled within a year. This is according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) 2021 report. According to SABRIC, nearly 4 400 incidents were recorded, representing a 63% increase, costing victims an average of R17 800. SABRIC says despite the uptick in SIM-swap fraud, digital channels remain the safest option when dealing with money in the country.

The following are questions VOC posed to SABRIC in 2021:

What is the definition of “cybercrime”?

Cybercrime is fraud where a criminal uses a computer, a computer network, or a networked device to engage in illegal activity, which includes committing fraud. The emergence of digital technology has created new opportunities for criminals to defraud people, but because South African banks deploy robust risk mitigation strategies which are continuously reviewed and improved, it is difficult for criminals to use technology to hack systems to get access to data. Therefore, criminals often resort to social engineering tactics, so that they can bypass traditional defence perimeters to commit fraud, because they know that people are the weakest link.

What are the most common cyber-crimes committed South Africa?

Criminals commit cybercrimes in numerous ways, however Phishing emails are one of the most utilised tactics. This is where criminals send potential victims an email that request that users click on a link in the email which directs them to a “spoofed” website. The spoofed website looks like a legitimate online retailer complete with beautiful images and enticing taglines. Criminals use these bogus websites to harvest bank card details which they then use to make online purchases on the victim’s account. Even if a purchase is made and the transaction goes through, it could still be a scam. If a deal seems too good to be true, it most probably is.

Another way that criminals are doing this is via spoofed websites could also be used to steal personal or confidential information. A criminal may use this information to contact the victim telephonically and gain their trust so that the victim willingly divulges any information requested. This information is then used to defraud the victim.

What makes one a likely target?

Anyone can become a victim of cybercrime, as criminals are masters at manipulating people into sharing their personal and confidential information. Therefore SABRIC, and our banks create awareness on their banking platforms to engage bank customers where they are transacting.

What do I do if I have been scammed?

If you have been a victim of a cybercrime, please contact your banks fraud department immediately. They will advise you how to proceed, for example, by requesting that you open a case with the SAPS, and get a case number.

  • What measures can be put in place to avoid falling victim to cybercrime?
  • Do not click on links or icons in unsolicited emails.
  • Do not reply to these emails. Delete them immediately.
  • Do not believe the content of unsolicited emails blindly. If you are worried about what is alleged, use your own contact details to contact the sender to confirm.
  • Type in the URL (Uniform Resource Locator or domain names) for your bank in the internet browser if you need to access your bank’s webpage.
  • Check that you are on the authentic/real site before entering any personal information.
  • If you think that your device might have been compromised, contact your bank immediately.
  • Create complicated passwords that are not easy to decipher and change them often.
  • Watch out for spoof e-commerce sites advertising specials. Criminals only need to change one digit of a web address to create a spoof website and steal your data.
  • Be wary of unfamiliar e-commerce sites, especially if they do not redirect you to confirm your transaction via your banks 3D secure page or via your own bank’s mobile app before you pay.
  • What is the likelihood of securing a conviction for cyber criminals? What do victims need to pay attention to?

Securing the conviction of a cybercriminal will depend on the merits of the case. What is encouraging is that President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Cybercrimes Bill into law, which means it is now an Act of Parliament. The Cybercrimes Bill is an Act that provides for the effective, unified, and comprehensive legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution, and punishment of cybercrimes.

Where can we find more information?

  • The Stay Safe section of our SABRIC website, HERE.
  • In addition, SABRIC releases stats for specific crime types annually. Our latest crime stats were released in June 2021 in our SABRIC Annual Crime Stats Publication. Please click HERE to view SABRIC’s annual crime stats and refer to pages 15 to 18 for stats and information pertaining to digital crime.


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