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Security experts warn of ‘unprecedented increase in fraudulent activity’

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Security experts are seeing up to a 155% increase in certain types of scams

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AS TIMES get tougher, scammers are becoming more determined and craftier at cheating people out of their money.

Globally, security experts are seeing up to a 155% increase in certain types of scams. Momentum Metropolitan’s security teams have noted similar increases of scams targeting South Africans.

Financial companies and their clients seem to be particularly in the sights of fraudsters and cybercriminals who target clients by intercepting their e-mails, impersonating communications and executing malicious cyberattacks, most commonly known as phishing.

The head of special forensic investigations for the Momentum Metropolitan Group says: “We are seeing an unprecedented increase in fraudulent activity. The scammers are getting very clever in deceiving people. We can only defeat them together, so we’d like to reiterate our call to consumers to be hyper vigilant, aware and cautious. We’ve listed below a few of the scams our experts have identified.

“There is currently an increase in interception of e-mails. When you click on a phishing link, a link that looks identical and therefore legitimate, the criminal is able to have access to your e-mail account, which enables the criminal to manipulate the content of e-mails.

“We advise consumers to pay meticulous attention to detail when receiving and sending information about their finances. We have noted a recent trend where scammers may change one letter in a legitimate e-mail address or use fake websites, or fake social media and WhatsApp profiles to defraud you.”

A returning e-mail may be slightly altered (very hard to see) and this results in forged documentation being shared with the unsuspecting consumer, thinking it was communication from the company or the adviser. For example [email protected] will be changed to [email protected] Most likely you had to look more than once to see the alteration.

Another scam to look out for is people replicating the naming convention of e-mail addresses. It is very easy to find or work out the addresses of CEOs or any employee whose name you may recognise, adding to the supposed legitimacy of an e-mail.

You may receive an e-mail from what reads like a genuine employee, but when you reply it goes to a completely different address. Hover your cursor over the e-mail address or copy and paste onto a new e-mail to see what forwarding e-mail address is revealed. The address [email protected] might be revealed to be [email protected]

Constantly review and refine the strength of your passwords. Password123 is not a good password! And DO NOT use the same password for all your online activity, because if one password is cracked, it will open up all your login details.

Be careful of promises of low repayment loans, or high returns on investments in a short space of time. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If unsure, rather ask your financial adviser.

The forensic expert’s final words of caution: “If anything feels wrong, stop and scrutinise what you are doing. Check every detail and every spelling, do the cursor scan over e-mail addresses and even contact the company directly to check if it is actually them that you are doing business with.

Especially check bank deposit details and never hand over cash or deposit money into an individual’s account. A moment to check or one phone call can save you from being caught out”.

THE DON’TS

  • Don’t hand over cash or make deposits without checking it out first.
  • Don’t ever pay money into an account without having a valid contract.
  • Don’t ever pay cash or deposit money into an individual’s private bank accounts.

THE DOS

  • Meticulously check spelling of e-mails and websites. Sometimes scamsters change one letter of the address to make it seem legitimate.
  • Ensure that you are replying to the e-mail address you are intending to reply to.
  • If you are in doubt, speak to your financial adviser or contact the company you are dealing with.

PERSONAL FINANCE