Unemployment pressures tempt fraud

With unemployment at its highest level, the youth are anxious, agitated and searching for creative ways to earn a living.

“In this environment, you cannot write off the temptation that confronts young people to commit fraud, when doors slam shut in their faces or do not even open in the first place,” says Manie van Schalkwyk of the South African Fraud Prevention Service.

The obvious temptation is CV doctoring, he says. By adding a few tweaks, candidates may make their application appear more professional than they actually are and increase chances for a job interview.

“Qualification fraud is simple enough to perform and with any luck an applicant may land an interview, even a job offer. But a few months into the job the employer will begin to wonder why the candidate’s skills and abilities do not match up to the qualifications he or she has presented on their CV. Questions will be asked. “When you are exposed as a fraud, you will have a criminal record,” Van Schalkwyk says.

For young people who are employed who wish to apply for store cards, credit cards or any type of credit, there is the temptation to stretch the salary or the length of time spent in a particular work place to increase their chances of credit approval or credit limit. Van Schalkwyk says, “Falsifying this information constitutes fraud.”

At another level, one of the first goals of a newly graduated student is to learn to drive and get a driver’s licence. So, they may be driving around in their parents’ or older sibling’s car, or they may have a car of their own.

In this case, the individual may wish to have car insurance. After phoning some insurance companies they may learn that their premium is higher than expected because of their lack of driving experience. They will persuade their parents to front for the policy, so that the policy is held in the parent’s name. This is falsely representing information as the younger person will be the primary driver of the vehicle being insured.

“A common illustration of this is alternative fact information given about who the regular driver of a vehicle will be,” says Deanne Wood, short term insurance ombudsman. “Older drivers pay significantly lower premiums than younger drivers.” The difference in premium can be significant.

“Certainly, significant enough to encourage consumers to provide inaccurate information about who the regular driver of a vehicle will be,” Wood says.

“Our office sees far too many claims being submitted where, for example, parents have represented that they will be the regular driver of a vehicle when in fact the vehicle was purchased by them for use by their child.

“Paying the lower premium is all well and good until a loss is suffered. Simple desk-top investigations using Facebook or other social media searches can all too easily reveal misrepresentations made by consumers who forget to cover their tracks when making misrepresentations to their insurance companies,” Wood adds.

Van Schalkwyk says, “Like all fraud, it’s only a matter to time until the perpetrators will be found out and could face prosecution. Starting out in a career with a criminal record is no way to build a future. I urge youth to stay on the right side of the law despite the many challenges of the current economic climate. Don’t put further obstacles in your path.”

The stats of the nation

In the midst of all the chaos and depression around us, we must appreciate the fact that we have still been able to keep some world-class institutions running. One of these is Stats SA, which is right up there with its international peers. Regular visits to its website will show you why that is: the amount, depth and breadth of information is quite something.

In the past few days, three critical pieces of information from Stats SA were drowned out by the ugly, rotten politics. They all related to issues that are key to the lives of South Africans: crime, governance and jobs.

Crime is higher than ever

The first one, titled Exploring the Extent of and Circumstances Surrounding Housebreaking/ Burglary and Home Robbery, looked at these crimes that terrify South African citizens. It noted that, although the proportion of households experiencing this crime that “violates our private space and the one place that we think of as our sanctuary” has been on the decline for five years, public perceptions were the opposite.

Differentiating home robbery (a break-in while the family is there) from housebreaking (burglary), the report says the former “fuels fear in communities, because it puts people at risk of personal injury and emotional trauma in their homes, where they should feel safest”.

Then came the really frightening part, which painted an appalling picture of the arrest and conviction rates.

“An arrest is made in only one out of every five reported cases of housebreaking or home robbery. Only one in five people arrested for housebreaking was convicted, and one in three people arrested for home robbery was convicted,” it stated.

Unacceptable vacancy rates

The second report, The Non-financial Census of Municipalities, contains some disturbing information about the vacancy rates in municipalities that cannot afford to be short of service-delivery personnel. Overall, the vacancy rate jumped from 13.3% in 2015 to 14.4% in 2016. Last year, the most affected areas in terms of unfilled vacancies were environmental protection at 26.1%, road transport at 22.3% and wastewater management at 19.9%. What was worrying was that only health – at 10.9% – had a vacancy rate of less than 12%. Crucial functions such as electricity (13.7%), water (13.6%) and finance (12.9%) had unacceptable vacancy rates.

Such high vacancy rates when positions are fully funded affect service delivery and increase the reliance on outside consultants, the report noted. By way of illustration, it pointed out that in Vryheid – which experienced a severe drought in the year in question and had to employ water tankers – the vacancy rate is 30.5%. Rustenburg’s wastewater management stood at a staggering 69%. Road transport, which is often the cause of community grievance, turned up some alarming numbers. In Mangaung, 74% of vacant posts were unfilled and Masilonyana (also in the Free State) stood at 69%. Although the vacancy rate in electricity came down from 20.2% to 13.7% last year, it is still considered high.

Unemployment crisis

The third was the release of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which revealed that South Africa’s unemployment rate now stood at 27.7% – its highest since 2003. Ironically, this was in the quarter in which 144 000 new jobs were created in the economy, a number offset by the entry of 433 000 jobseekers. The survey said 58% of these new jobseekers were between 18 and 34 years of age, thus pushing the youth unemployment rate to 38.6%.

The unemployment rate among those without matric was 33.1%, while among graduates, it was 7.3%. If you use the expanded definition of unemployment by including those who have just given up on looking for work, the figure goes to 36.4%, almost a 10% increase. And if you want it in raw figures, we are talking about 9.3 million South Africans who cannot find work.

Why, I hear you ask, are we talking about such seemingly mundane matters when there are so many more fascinating subjects, such as Duduzane’s complicated love life and the saucy pictures that dropped into his inbox? Why should we be concerned about boring issues when there is such scintillating stuff in the political world – from emails to motions of no confidence and a president who threatens his executive not to “push him too far”?

Well, it is because these are the issues that should be consuming us. In a society that is serious about solving problems, the content of these reports would spell crisis in capital letters. A citizenry that lives in constant fear in a free country is not enjoying its freedom.

Municipalities and government departments that deprive residents of quality services because they are unable to fill vacancies are also depriving people of the tangible fruits of freedom.

The same can be said with regard to the unemployment crisis, which deprives families and individuals of a decent standard of living.

There has to come a time when these are the big issues on the minds of South Africans, both in the state and outside of government.

But then, as the Zuma/Gupta mafia is busy plundering, the country has no choice but to be consumed by their criminal behaviour.

By Mondli Makhanya for News24

Fraud alert warning from retail stationer

A local retail stationer has contacted My Office News with a warning of attempted fraud.

The instance began with a request to quote on Monday 15 May 2017 from a certain “George Miller” of Quality Service cc.
He requested a quote for two taping applicator systems and 1 000 PVC 70mm lever arch files.
The retailer immediately became suspicious, as clients usually approach a wholesaler directly for that quantity of stock.
The retailer then began to research the company and discovered that the company name did not match up with the phone number provided.
However, the retailer e-mailed the quote to the address provided and thereafter received a purchase order with an address listed in Bellevue East.
When the retailer googled the address, it was for Raleigh Court in Yeoville/Bellevue East.
The retailer then confirmed with “George Miller” once again via e-mail that full payment was required, and they had to collect from the retailer’s offices once the order was ready.
Following that, the retailer received a proof of payment (POP) via e-mail that looked nothing like other POPs received from Standard Bank:

The retailer then sent all the evidence to the bank. A representative from Standard Bank’s Fraud division responded, saying “We would recommend that no goods released and also no services be rendered as the proof of payment is not valid. If you would like to pursue the matter, you may report the suspects to the SAPS in order for them to continue with investigating the individual.”

Please be wary when receiving large orders from unknown customers.

Terrorists get SA passports

Fifteen unused South African passports, some containing pictures of South Africans on an international terrorist watch list, have been seized from an al-Shabab courier in Tanzania.

A police crime intelligence source told The Times that at least one of the passports, some of which had visas for European countries, contains a photograph that might be that of international terror fugitive Samantha Lewthwaite, also known as “the White Widow”.

The passports were seized from a man believed to have dual South African and Tanzanian citizenship. Officers from the Hawks’ crimes against the state unit and State Security Agency were dispatched to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania.

The team returned last week after interviewing the alleged courier and examining the passports.

Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi refused to comment on the circumstances of the arrest, the charges the man faced, and whether he would be brought back to South Africa.

He said the Hawks were alerted after the man was found in possession of a “number of our passports”. The matter was receiving “serious” attention in both countries and at Interpol.

“This is very worrying,” said Johan Kruger, head of the UN’s eastern Africa drugs, transnational crimes and terrorism programme. “We are focusing on strengthening our capacity in eastern Africa around terrorism prevention. This includes crimes related to terrorism such as the use of illicitly obtained travel documents, fraudulent travel documents and terrorism financing.”

The arrest is a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism in Africa. According to Hawks sources, it will help in anti-terrorism operations under way in South Africa.

A Hawks source said the suspect had been under observation after Tanzanian authorities were tipped off about his arrival in Dar es Salaam. The officer, who cannot be named, said it was understood that he was due to deliver the passports to another al-Shabaab operative when he was arrested.

‘White Widow’ trail has gone cold: Kenya police
“All of the recovered passports are legitimate. They contain the images of several South Africans on international terror watch lists. Among the photographs is one of a woman who might very well be Lewthwaite.”

Lewthwaite, a UK citizen, lived in South Africa between 2009 and 2011 under a false South African identity. She fled South Africa on a fake South African passport.

She has been linked to numerous terror attacks, including the Westgate Mall assault in Kenya in 2013.

Her husband, Germaine Lindsay, was one of the suicide bombers involved in the 2007 London bombings.

In 2015 it was reported that Lewthwaite had been killed in the Ukraine, but Hawks sources say the latest arrest suggests that she is still alive.

White Widow’s Joburg love story
Questions are now being asked about how the passports, which are not forgeries, came into the possessin of Islamic terrorist group al-Shabab. Applicants for a South African passport must submit biometric data, including fingerprints.

Home Affairs spokesman Thabo Mokgola refused to comment.

A police crime intelligence source said the 15 passports were issued recently. He said they contained pictures of terror suspects wanted in Europe and Africa who were believed to be linked to al-Shabab.

He said the courier had numerous links to Lewthwaite. He used the same networks as she while in South Africa to obtain passports.

“He is also believed to be linked to an al-Qaeda operative killed in Mali early last year. That man was also found with South African passports.”

‘White Widow’ linked to hits
The source said the authorities, through Interpol, were investigating the suspect’s movements into, out of, and around South Africa.

“He has been placed in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. His travels from South Africa to Tanzania, and the people he met travelling to Dar es Salaam, are being investigated.”

Koffi Kouakou, of the Wits School of Governance, said the “wealth” a passport provided was immeasurable.

“It’s a powerful key. South Africans can travel to scores of countries without a visa.”

He said the fact that the suspect was arrested with so many passports called into question the security of South Africa’s passports.

‘White widow’ passport probe
“It shows South Africa’s security cluster systems are compromised. The only way such people can access our passports is through corrupt officials,” said Kouakou.

Terrorism expert Jasmine Opperman said members of al-Shabaab and Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram in South Africa all had access to genuine South African passports, for which they paid up to R60,000 each.

“It’s exactly how Lewthwaite travelled,” said Opperman.

SA probe into ‘White Widow’ passport ongoing
Opperman said interviews she had with Boko Haram and al-Shabab operatives showed that although South Africa was, for now, regarded as a base at which to recoup from, finance and plan terrorism attacks, the country was vulnerable to exploitation by extremists operating in Africa and the Middle East.

By Graeme Hosken for www.timeslive.co.za

Social media could impact your insurance

Using your phone for social media while driving could be considered reckless behaviour by an insurer, giving the insurer the right to decline a claim in the event of an accident, said a legal expert.
Maria Philippides, director of insurance litigation at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa, explained the legal implications as well as consequences for insurance cover where reckless behaviour is related to the use of social media.
She referred to a recent report in the UK where a woman was jailed for using Facebook when she caused a car accident. Philippides explained to Fin24 how a case like this could possibly be handled locally.
In South Africa, the use of a cell-phone while driving is prohibited by the road traffic regulation. This is not just limited to talking on one’s phone, but also holding a phone or other communicating devices when driving, explained Philippides.
If caught by authorities when doing these activities, one could be liable to pay a fine. In the instance that this behaviour leads to something worse like an accident causing death, one can be charged for culpable homicide, she said. “If convicted, it would carry a jail sentence.”
Insurance policies are designed to cover the insured for their negligent behaviour. But there are policy provisions which explain when insurers do not pay out claims. This is either when the claims arise from a criminal offence, such as using your phone when driving, explained Philippides.
The other instance when a claim is not paid out is if the policyholder does not act with “due care” to avoid an accident or loss or damage, she added. In this case the actions go beyond negligence and are viewed as being reckless, she explained.
A court would test for recklessness in terms of the person being aware of the risk that would result of their conduct, and still continuing with the action regardless. In that case the insurer will be able to reject the claim, she said.
“If you are operating your cell-phone, which you know is illegal or an offence … and your attention is not on the traffic and the road ahead of you, [with your head] looking down. That can be termed as reckless.”
Drivers have an imposed duty by the national road traffic act to be engaged with driving, explained Philippides. If you are engaged in an activity “so removed from your duty to drive properly”, no matter what it is, including applying make-up in traffic, it is reckless, she emphasised.
Wearable devices
When asked about how operating wearable devices, such as smart-watches, while driving may be viewed by insurers, Philippides acknowledged that the law was struggling to keep up with the pace of changing technology.
“Law can’t keep up with every single device that gets created… There is no specific prohibition on a person using a smart-watch,” she said.
However even though there is no prohibition in law for using a device, insurers can reject a claim if the use of the device can be classified as reckless, she explained.
Philippides pointed out the innovation of smart windscreens, where a navigation panel comes up on the windscreen when driving. Even if this innovation is legal, it is possible that insurers may view the use of this navigation while driving as reckless.
Proving use of social media
If a policyholder does not accept that their claim was declined, the matter can reach the courts. It is up to the insurer to make the allegation and prove that the policyholder was using their device when driving. Philippides explained that the insurer would have to get evidence of the use of the device. This could be witness statements, the police report and possibly cell-phone records to prove the use of the device coincided with the time the accident was made.
The records could show when data was used, or when phone calls were made. Activity logs from social media, with permission from the policyholder in the case that he or she has privacy settings, can also be used to prove use of a device, she added.
Failure to submit this information can lead to an adverse inference by the courts, indicating that the insured possibly has something to hide.
Something as simple as liking a page at a time that coincides with the timeframe of an accident could implicate the policyholder, said Philippides. “It shows attention was diverted from driving.”
“The ordinary person on the street does not realize that what they are doing while operating on social media is accessible to anyone. If it is publicly available, anyone can use it, the right to privacy is basically waived.”

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24

Simple fraud questions MTN and Cell C cannot answer

Many South Africans have lost money through Internet banking fraud, with victims blaming their mobile operator for not protecting them against illegitimate SIM-swaps.

News reports emerged in 2016 that a crime syndicate had infiltrated the mobile operators and was performing SIM-swap and Internet banking fraud.

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Fraud, dishonesty on the up as economy faulters

First Standard & Poor, now Fitch have rated the South African economy “junk” with huge ramifications for South African citizens, with the poorest of the poor being the worst affected, economists agree.
Manie van Schalkwyk, executive director, of the South African Fraud Prevention unit said there would be much less money going around, a severe lack of international investment and potential job losses.

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New scam hits FNB customers

FNB is warning customers about a new scam which involves them receiving an e-mail stating their online banking access will be disabled or deactivated.

“In an attempt to obtain your personal details, you will be requested to select a link in the email to confirm that you did not request your account to be deactivated,” said FNB.

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New malware on the loose

Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team has discovered a new sophisticated wiper malware, called StoneDrill.

Just like another infamous wiper, Shamoon,it destroys everything on the infected computer. StoneDrill also features advanced anti-detection techniques and espionage tools in its arsenal. In addition to targets in the Middle East, one StoneDrill target has also been discovered in Europe, where wipers used in the Middle East have not previously been spotted in the wild.

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Hackers hindered by pen and paper

In an age of superfast computers and interconnected everything, the only sure way to protect the integrity of sensitive data, such as election results, is to return to paper and pen.

That is the view of Sijmen Ruwhof, an ethical or “white hat” hacker, who last month revealed that the Dutch election’s commission computer software was riddled with vulnerabilities.

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