Home South African Alarm raised over increase in identity theft fraud in SA

Alarm raised over increase in identity theft fraud in SA

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The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service has raised concerns over an alarming increase in fraud cases over the past three years, especially in money muling and forged documents.

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THE SOUTHERN African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) has raised concerns over an alarming increase in fraud cases over the past three years, especially in money muling and forged documents.

This was highlighted in its recently released 2023 Fraud Statistics, which details the fraud incidents from April 2022 until the end of April 2023.

SAFPS said the fraud landscape had increased significantly over the years, with impersonation fraud, money muling and forged documentation being the most significant challenges that it had to deal with.

Recent statistics mark Gauteng as the main hot spot for fraud, with 66% of all reported fraud incidents occurring in the economic hub. KwaZulu-Natal followed with 17%, and the Western Cape with 8%.

SAFPS CEO Manie van Schalkwyk said it was concerning that fraudsters were getting more brazen and that the level of certain fraudulent activities was increasing rapidly.

“South Africa is investing heavily in digitisation to catch up with the rest of the world. But while digitisation will revolutionise the South African economy in future, it has risks.

“According to a 2021 Interpol report, South Africa tops Africa in cyberthreats and is third in the world, with 230 million threats detected in 2021. Of these, 219 million threats were related to e-mails,” said Van Schalkwyk.

He added that scams where fraudsters assumed the identity of a victim were also a significant challenge, and showed a 236% increase over the same period in 2022.

Van Schalwyk said: “There has been a marked increase in the use of forged documentation, which has increased by 62% over the same period in 2022. Other forged documentation instances include fake driving licences, which can be used as a form of identification when applying for credit. This is a risk that SAFPS is keeping an eye on in future.”

The statistics indicate that impersonation fraud has increased by 356% over the past year. This can be attributed to data leaks and compromised personal data, which has shown a significant increase in South Africa recently.

To address this, SAFPS recently launched two platforms that would significantly change the narrative when shifting the pressure from consumers to fraudsters.

The first platform is Yima, a website that consumers can use to report scams or to determine whether a website they want to visit is a genuine website or a proxy website.

The growth of social media has also become a major hotbed of fraud.

“Realising the importance of online marketplaces, and the threat of fraud, we have through our subsidiary company, Secure Citizen, developed the functionality for individuals to validate other sellers when performing a transaction, minimising the threat of fraud. Secure citizen and Yima will completely change the narrative regarding fraud prevention,” Van Schalkwyk said.

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