Savvy crim­i­nals tar­get el­derly

Saturday Star - - FRONT PAGE - SHANICE NAIDOO [email protected]

FRAUD­STERS seem to be tar­get­ing el­derly peo­ple who may not be tech savvy, such as Pro­fes­sor Dar­lene Lubbe’s 78-year-old fa­ther whose life sav­ings were stolen.

She be­lieves in his case, some­one within a bank had to alert some­one from a cell­phone com­pany that money was avail­able to be swin­dled.

“How they get ac­cess to ac­count de­tails, I don’t know. There was a SIM swop done in Oc­to­ber without his knowl­edge, done by Vo­da­com,” she told the Satur­day Star’s sis­ter news­pa­per, the Week­end Ar­gus this week.

“They cleared out 50 years of sav­ings by trans­fer­ring Absa Money­mar­ket to Absa Cheque and cre­ated 15 new ben­e­fi­cia­ries. The money was gone within five hours. Both Absa and Vo­da­com deny re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Lubbe.

In an af­fi­davit to Absa’s fraud depart­ment, Lubbe’s fa­ther said he no­ticed he had no cell­phone ser­vice and thought he had run out of air­time.

He went to a lo­cal cell­phone shop where he was told to go to Vo­da­com. At a Vo­da­com store, he was in­formed he needed a SIM swop.

“She then took the phone and went to the back room for about 15 min­utes. She put in a new SIM card, she didn’t give me my old SIM and told me to wait four hours and then switch on my phone.

“The next morn­ing I tried to pay our do­mes­tic work­ers via in­ter­net bank­ing and the com­puter asked for a 60-se­cond con­fir­ma­tion. I never got the mes­sage on my cell­phone, so I could not trans­fer any money to them,” read the af­fi­davit.

Af­ter some has­sle and a let­ter to the bank, Lubbe said the stolen R500000 was paid back as a pay­ment of good­will by Absa.

There was a se­cond fraud­u­lent at­tempt on De­cem­ber 30 at 6.47pm when some­one ported her fa­ther’s Vo­da­com num­ber to MTN. “This de­spite the num­ber be­ing flagged as a num­ber that had been used in fraud in the past month. Vo­da­com in­structed me noth­ing could be done un­til the num­ber was back with them. So we had to con­tact MTN on Jan­uary 2. MTN port­ing does not op­er­ate on hol­i­days, so the fraud­sters had 36 hours to play with.

“We man­aged to freeze all his Absa ac­counts once again, and have now had to delete the cell num­ber and re­move any num­bers from his pro­file.”

Last week, the Week­end Ar­gus re­ported on Blou­bergstrand’s Feruc­cio Ferucci, who had his Absa busi­ness ac­count swin­dled out of R3.1 mil­lion while he was in Mi­ami for two months.

The same modus operandi was used: a SIM swop was done that he did not autho­rise with Vo­da­com. His money was paid back to him by Absa, also la­belled as a “pay­ment of good­will”.

SIM swop in­ci­dents, ac­cord­ing to the South African Bank­ing Risk In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, dou­bled from 4040 from Jan­uary to Au­gust 2017 to 8254 over the same pe­riod the fol­low­ing year.

Vo­da­com’s By­ron Kennedy said it was aware of the re­cent claims of SIM swop­ping and viewed any fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­ity on the net­work in a very se­ri­ous light. “It is im­por­tant to clar­ify that in­ter­net bank­ing fraud can­not suc­ceed un­less the vic­tim has com­pro­mised their bank­ing ac­count de­tails. This in­for­ma­tion can­not be ob­tained through a fraud­u­lent or even a valid SIM swop.”

MTN group ex­ec­u­tive for cor­po­rate af­fairs Jac­qui O’sul­li­van said iden­tity fraud had un­for­tu­nately be­come a con­sis­tent threat to all net­work op­er­a­tors and cus­tomers around the world, as crim­i­nals con­stantly worked to find new ways to beat fraud preven­tion sys­tems.

Weather con­di­tion xxxDBN 21/26 CTN 18/22

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