Savvy criminals target elderly
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.
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