Tag: fraud

How to detect and avoid online scams

By David and Libby Koch for News.com.au

Digital technology, social media and e-mail have changed the way we communicate – but it also gives criminals easier access to victims.

Online scams are so sophisticated and appear so authentic that they are conning thousands of Australians out of millions of dollars. And the scams are like cockroaches — you can’t seem to kill them.

It has been particularly distressing for us to receive emails from readers and viewers who have lost money on Facebook scams recommending investing in Bitcoin or endorsing an erectile dysfunction lotion.

These are constantly reported to Facebook who take them down, but then they immediately reappear apparently using a different server.

The worst scams doing the rounds to be aware of and avoid at the moment are:

• Netflix: Fake emails claiming your account has been blocked because of payment issues and asks for bank details to resume service.

• Paypal: Fake emails wanting your bank details and passwords to confirm account.

• SARS impersonators: Telephone using an automated voice claiming you haven’t lodged a tax return and to call a number or legal action will commence immediately. A similar scam claims to be from a law enforcement agency.

• Gift Cards: Fake emails claiming you owe a company payment and they only want you to be paid by gift cards like iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Australia Post Load&Go prepaid debit cards.

• Celebrity endorsement scams: Use a well-known personality to sell products ranging from face creams and cosmetics to weight loss and investments.

• Governance: Scammers are even pretending to be regulators and asking for personal details to renew business or company names online.

• Surprise inheritances or money owed: Usually posing as a lawyer or accountant, these scammers notify you they are holding money in your name from an inheritance or lost superannuation and want your bank details to transfer it over.

• Telco and energy bills: Fake invoices and statements from Telstra and Optus as well as Origin and AGL demanding immediate payment. Or they claim you’ve overpaid or entitled a refund and want bank details to send the money.

• Phishing never seems to go away. These are authentic-looking emails supposedly from your bank asking you to click a link to the bank website and verify all your details and passwords. It’s a con.

One wrong click of the mouse could be costly.

The list of digital scams is almost endless, and we haven’t even got to pyramid schemes, dating scams and online shopping.

Now that we’ve scared you with ways you can be conned out, here are some key ways to protect yourself.:

1. Never give your password, PIN, bank details or Tax File Number to anyone online or over the phone. Generally no legitimate company will ask for those details online. If you’re uncertain, ring the bank or telco and check whether it is legitimate. If someone rings us and asks for us to verify our details we’ll ask them to tell us what they have rather than us volunteer the information.

2. Review your security and privacy details on social media and be careful with who you connect with.

3. Choose passwords carefully. We have to remember an enormous number passwords across different accounts but it is important to make them hard to crack. Use a password authenticator app or a password keeper on your smartphone.

4. Check for clues on the authenticity of an email. If it uses a general, rather than a personal, greeting you need to beware. Fakes often have bad grammar, sound overly official and are poor quality.

5. Beware of unusual methods of payment. A lot of scammers like to work outside traditional financial systems and processes. Anyone who wants payment by a gift card or virtual currencies (like Bitcoin) is usually a crook and probably into money laundering.

6. Don’t agree to deals straight away. Tell the person who calls that you’re not interested or that you want to get independent advice before making a decision. Then you can do more research to verify an offer.

7. Visit Google and other websites to verify information.

9. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The most powerful filter you have against scams is your gut feel. These offers are probably best avoided or, at least, need detailed verification.

Be on your guard.

By Wendy Knowler for Herald Live

Credit card fraud has been rapidly outpacing all other forms of bank fraud in recent months, with many older people being sweet-talked by fraudsters posing as bank officials into revealing their one-time-password (OTP) over the phone.

The Ombudsman for Banking Services, Reana Steyn, issued a warning about the alarming trend, revealing that 58% of the bank clients who complained about falling victim to credit card fraud in the past three months were older than 61 and 11% were older than 80.

“Not long ago credit card fraud was number five in our list of complaint categories, and now it’s number two, comprising 19,45% of all complaints,” Steyn said.

“That’s up from about 12% in December. At this rate it will soon overtake internet banking fraud to occupy the top spot.”

In a typical scenario, a bank client gets a call from a fraudster claiming to be phoning from their bank. In most cases, the fraudster already has the person’s credit card number.

The fraudster has gone onto an online shopping site – two of their favourites are Takealot and Foschini, Steyn said – and, poised to buy with victim’s credit card, they convince them that in order to help the bank prevent them from falling victim to fraud, they must please read out the OTP which has been sent to them via SMS.

The victim complies, and then the shopping begins.

The fraudsters also con people into believing that the bank will give them extra bank loyalty rewards points if they answer a few questions, Steyn said.

In the process of that Q&A, they’re asked for their OTP.

In one case, a fraudster asked a woman if she would like to convert her bank rewards points into cash. With that benefit in mind, she read out her OTP.

Alarmed at getting similar calls on the same day, she phoned her bank, but had already been defrauded of R11,200.

“Credit card fraud is a growing concern as banking systems increase in speed and efficiency,” Steyn said. “At the same time, fraudsters apply more sophisticated tactics to defraud and rob customers of their hard-earned money and savings.

“All bank customers, particularly the elderly, need to be knowledgeable and vigilant about their preferred banking channels.”

What not to do:

  • Never share personal and confidential information with strangers over the phone.
  • Banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone.
  • If you receive an OTP on your phone without having transacted yourself, it is likely that it is a fraudster who has used your personal information. Do not provide the OTP to anybody. Contact your bank immediately to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised.

How to complain:

  • Lodge a formal, written complaint directly with your bank’s dispute resolution department.Ask for a complaint reference number from your bank.
  • Allow the bank 20 working days in which to respond to your complaint.
  • Obtain a written response from your bank and if you are not satisfied with the outcome, please log the complaint with the Ombudsman for Banking Services.

By Abrar Al-Heeti for C-NET

The US Department of Justice on Monday charged Huawei with theft of trade secrets, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

A 10-count indictment alleges that China’s Huawei stole trade secrets from US carrier T-Mobile beginning in 2012. Huawei also allegedly offered bonuses to employees who stole confidential information from companies. In addition, a 13-count indictment charged four defendants, including Huawei and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, with financial fraud. The indicted defendants also include affiliates Huawei USA and Skycom.

“The charges unsealed today clearly allege that Huawei intentionally conspired to steal the intellectual property of an American company in an attempt to undermine the free and fair global marketplace,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement. “To the detriment of American ingenuity, Huawei continually disregarded the laws of the United States in the hopes of gaining an unfair economic advantage.”

The charges come amid heightened scrutiny for Huawei, the world’s largest supplier of telecom equipment and the No. 2 smartphone maker behind Samsung. The US has already banned Huawei from selling networking equipment here, but a number of other countries have either already ceased working with the company, or are considering a ban. The Chinese government and Huawei have said the moves could have ramifications since the company contributes to industry-standard wireless technologies like 5G.

Both the US and China are jockeying for leadership in the next-generation of cellular technology, which promises higher speeds and the ability to handle more connected devices. US officials have offered warnings about Huawei and its ties to China.

“There is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party — and Huawei, which China’s government and military tout as a ‘national champion,’ is no exception,” said Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who’s vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Huawei, meanwhile, denied any wrongdoing.

“Huawei is disappointed to learn of the charges brought against the company today,” the company said in an emailed statement.

“After Meng’s arrest, the company sought an opportunity to discuss the Eastern District of New York investigation with the Justice Department, but the request was rejected without explanation,” Huawei continued. “The allegations in the Western District of Washington trade secret indictment were already the subject of a civil suit that was settled by the parties after a Seattle jury found neither damages nor willful and malicious conduct on the trade secret claim.”

T-Mobile declined to comment.

Two charges
According the first set of indictments, Huawei began stealing information about a phone-testing robot from T-Mobile called Tappy. Huawei engineers allegedly violated confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements by taking pictures of Tappy, taking measurements of parts of the robot and stealing a piece of it. When T-Mobile found out and threatened to sue, Huawei falsely said the theft was done by rogue actors within the company, according to the indictment.

T-Mobile sued anyway, and in 2017 won its case against Huawei, with a jury awarding it $4.8 million.

Despite Huawei’s insistence that the action was a one-off affair, the Justice Department says emails obtained during the investigation found that the theft of secrets from T-Mobile was a companywide effort.

It has been clear for some time that Huawei poses a threat to our national security.
Sen. Mark Warner
Huawei could face a fine of up to either $5 million or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, for conspiracy and attempt to steal trade secrets. The company could also face a fine of up to $500,000 for wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

In the second set of indictments, Meng was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud. Huawei and Huawei USA are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Huawei and Skycom are charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and conspiracy to violate IEEPA, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The charges are related to the company’s alleged efforts to evade US sanctions and do business with Iran. Last month, Meng was detained in Canada at the behest of the Justice Department over those claims. While in a Vancouver courthouse to discuss her bail, a lawyer with Canada’s Justice Department alleged she defrauded US banks into making transactions that violated those sanctions, according to Bloomberg.

The founder’s daughter
Notably, Meng isn’t just the CFO of Huawei. She’s the daughter of the founder and president, Zhengfei Ren. And her arrest doesn’t just have ripple effects across the tech industry; it threatens to blow up an already precarious relationship between the US and China over trade talks.

Beyond trade, others see Huawei as a national security issue.

“It has been clear for some time that Huawei poses a threat to our national security, and I applaud the Trump Administration for taking steps to finally hold the company accountable,” Warner said.

Huawei has consistently denied any wrongdoing by Meng. At the World Economic Forum at Davos, Huawei Chairman Liang Hua called for a quick resolution of the case and the release of Meng, according to Reuters.

Meng’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten, told Reuters on Tuesday that she was a victim of “complex” China-US relations.

“Our client, Sabrina Meng, should not be a pawn or a hostage in this relationship.” he said, using one of her Western names. “Ms. Meng is an ethical and honorable businesswoman who has never spent a second of her life plotting to violate any US law, including the Iranian sanctions.”

Huawei also told Reuters that it had sought to discuss the charges with US authorities, “but the request was rejected without explanation.”

Over the past few months, Huawei has endured a wave of negative sentiment. UK carrier BT said it’d pull Huawei equipment out of its 4G network and ban it from any future 5G deployments. Japan reportedly banned government purchases from Huawei. Also last month, Andrus Ansip, the EU’s technology chief, warned that Huawei and other Chinese companies pose a risk to the bloc’s industry and security, according to Reuters.

All of the negativity could have a trickle-down effect on the company.

“[The case] puts every aspect of Huawei’s business in jeopardy in the US and EU, including consumer sales,” said Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research. “Instead of being known for innovation, the company is positioned as criminal.”

By Angelique Arde for Business Live

Absa is tight-lipped about its meeting this week with the banking regulator about how the bank handles cyber risks.

Caroline da Silva, head of regulatory strategy at the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), told Money that the regulator’s meeting with Absa was the first of a series it will have with all banks. This comes after a “market conduct risk” across the sector was flagged in a retail banking diagnostic, as well as reports from customers, including one from Johannesburg attorney Mark Heyink.

In June last year, Heyink made submissions to the FSCA detailing Absa clients’ allegations of unfair treatment by the bank in dealing with online banking frauds.

Though the meeting with Absa was general, Da Silva said the issues in Heyink’s submission were discussed, including the predominance of Absa clients in cases of online fraud dealt with by the attorney.

In his report to the FSCA, Heyink, acting for 29 Absa customers referred to him by a digital forensic expert and a computer scientist, claimed that the bank had “improperly” held clients liable for losses resulting from online banking fraud and called on the regulator to investigate Absa and the ombud for banking services.

But Da Silva told Money this week that the FSCA is in an “interim position”, without legislation in place yet to regulate the conduct of banks – the Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill was published in December for comment. “We don’t want to wait for that to take action on their conduct, so we’ve drafted a set of conduct standards which will be published for comment before the end of March and will hopefully be in force before the middle of the year.”

On the question of the conduct of the banking ombudsman, Da Silva said the Twin Peaks regulatory model envisages a stronger ombud system, with a chief ombud to look at the independence, governance and decisions made by both statutory and voluntary/industry ombuds.

In October last year, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre released statistics on digital banking crime for the first time, showing that the number of incidents of online fraud had increased by 64% between 2017 and August 2018.

The conduct Heyink reported to the FSCA relates to Absa holding clients responsible for losses when the bank had allegedly:

• No evidence of negligence on the part of its clients;

• Applied incorrect interpretation of the law relating to the client’s assumption of risk;

• Failed to comply with applicable consumer protection legislation; and

• Failed in its duty of care to its customers.

Heyink and the digital experts quoted in the submission also question whether the security measures taken by Absa were appropriate.

Absa, which would not be drawn on the meeting with the FSCA, also declined to respond to these specific allegations.

Ulrich Janse van Rensburg, head of fraud strategy at retail and business banking at Absa, said internet fraud is of “huge concern” to Absa. “It has an adverse impact on the much-needed relationship of trust between Absa and its customers. For this reason, it is entirely in our interest to ensure not only that world-class security measures are in place, but that when fraud is committed, those responsible are apprehended and made to account. And expeditiously so.

“That’s why Absa takes every possible precaution to safeguard our customers’ money and co-operates closely with the SAPS and industry fraud-prevention bodies such as Sabric [South African Banking Risk Information Centre].

“However, we are unfortunately constrained in instances where the customer would have caused vulnerability by divulging their confidential banking details to third parties, very often without intending to do so. Regrettably, this weakness impacts the entire industry, not only Absa.

“Although Absa is ordinarily not liable for the frauds perpetrated on its customers by third parties in the strict legal sense, it recognises that these crimes have a significant personal impact on the victim and for this reason will come to their financial assistance,” Van Rensburg said.

Almost half of Heyink’s 29 clients accepted settlement offers from Absa covering 50% of their losses. The settlement offers, which were valid for seven days only, were confidential, ex gratia and in full and final settlement of claims against the bank.

In his submission to the FSCA, Heyink said that in consultation with clients who accepted such settlements, in every instance the client said they had accepted the settlement under duress. One client said: “We felt we had a gun to our head.”

Clients who did not accept settlements said they also felt Absa was trying to force them to accept the offer.

Absa said that it does not put pressure on clients and a week is reasonable time for a client to decide whether to accept a settlement. But Heyink said that the circumstances under which the offers were made by Absa placed clients in an unfair bargaining position.

Source: MyBroadband

If your bank card gets stolen and you cancel it, this does not automatically mean that all payments from it will be blocked.

This was the case when two FNB customers contacted MyBroadband about their frustrating experiences with the bank.

The customers both had their FNB bank cards stolen in different scenarios – and both contacted FNB to have their cards cancelled.

Despite cancelling the cards, both users noted small payments still going off their bank accounts via card transactions.

The charges were toll gate fees.

In one case, the customer reportedly asked FNB why the cancelled card could still make transactions. He said he was told by FNB that he would have to blacklist the card, on top of cancelling it, to stop the transactions.

In the other case, the customer stated that all he could do was get a refund for the toll gate fees.

This customer subsequently contacted the toll gates where his card was being used to ask them to block transactions on it.

He also managed to obtain an image of the vehicle using his stolen card – it was a white Toyota minibus taxi with a Gauteng registration.

FNB responds
MyBroadband contacted FNB for feedback on the matter, and the bank confirmed that the bank cards were cancelled as described above.

“Unfortunately, due to toll gate merchants operating in an offline environment, this prevents them from obtaining authorisation from the bank for transactions of this nature. As a result, additional transactions were posted,” said FNB.

“The customer will not incur any loss resulting from fraud in this scenario.”

FNB was asked what a bank customer should do to ensure their cancelled card is not used to make these types of transactions, but the bank did not provide feedback.

Offline transactions
According to PASA (Payments Association of South Africa) documents, lost and stolen card fraud at toll gates has been highlighted as a significant concern in recent years.

“Although toll card transactions are a card present transaction, fast throughput of vehicles is important and transactions are thus processed in an offline and delayed manner – cleared in batch,” states PASA.

“Importantly, unlike any other offline card present card transactions, toll gate transactions are not verified by the cardholder in any way.”

It added that while toll gate transactions are checked against the “Hot Card” file, this “only contains a limited number of all lost and stolen card details”.

By Bryan Smith for Coin Insider 

Eran Eyal, a South African-educated technology entrepreneur who now lives in the US, is facing criminal charges in the New York for allegedly stealing more than US$600 000 from investors.

According to a new release from New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, South African Eran Eyal – former CEO of Springleap and incumbent CEO of Shopin – has formally been charged with fraudulently soliciting investors, making false representations, and for computer crimes during his tenure with the former company.

Underwood’s statement outlines that Eyal allegedly stole as much as $600,000 USD from investors by ‘fraudulently soliciting investors’ to ‘purchase convertible notes through false representations of his company.’

In a statement to the press, Underwood outlined that “As we allege, this massive securities fraud scheme bilked investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars… Defrauding New Yorkers through false representations and fabrications about a business will not be tolerated by my office – and we’ll continue to do what it takes to root out and prosecute securities fraud.”

Springleap – a global crowdsourcing company – has now been alleged to have made false representations about its management team and pool of professionals, and fabricated the existence of several senior staff members and an Advisory Board.

Further, Underwood’s office cites that Springleap’s community of over 180,000 creative professionals was fabricated by means of hiring a ‘freelance computer hacker to web-scrape computer data from a legitimate online portfolio website in order to obtain pedigree information for creative professionals to falsely inflate his existing list’.

In cryptocurrency circles, Eyal serves as the CEO and founder of Shopin – a platform touting itself as the “world’s first decentralized shopper profile built on the blockchain.”

Shopin concluded its private pre-sale on January 27th this year, reportedly raising as much as $10 million USD. The platform claims to have raked in $32.5 million USD through its public pre-sale on March 30th, and apparently concluded its token generation event with a total of $42.5 million USD.

Eyal faces no charges for his activities or role with Shopin.

As Underwood’s office outlines, Eyal presently faces three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, one count of Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the First Degree, one count of Criminal Possession of Computer Related Material), one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and four counts of Securities Fraud under the Martin Act. If convicted, Eyal would face between five to fifteen years in prison.

Eyal has not made public comment since the announcement of his indictment, while Shopin itself has not issued public word on the charges laid against its CEO at press time.

By Adiel Ismail for Fin24 

Goliath and Goliath CEO Kate Goliath is encouraging small businesses to ramp up security measures after her comedy and entertainment agency fell victim to invoice intercepting as a result of e-mail hacking. You should be able to manage and secure your company data, as it is the most valuable thing. If you need some help managing your business data, make use of RadiusBridge business reporting software.

Goliath and Goliath is out of pocket to the tune of more than R300 000, while its subsidiary The PR Bailiff has been scammed out of R20 000.

The hackers gained access to the company’s emails and requested clients to make payments to a different bank account.

Goliath told Fin24 that small businesses shouldn’t just rely on tech companies to educate them about cybercrime.”Find out as much information about how hackers get into the systems so that you are aware of what service providers need to offer,” she said.

“Be vigilant. Protect your business and insure the technical side of your business as well.”

The company opened a case with the police and is in the process of sending a subpoena to the bank where the funds have been deposited.

Afrihost said it will work with the police to further investigate the incident. “We strongly believe this was a case of phishing,” a representative told Fin24.

Entertainment and media high risk for cybercrime

“We have noticed that some banks are posting warnings before a client makes a payment to verify that the bank details they’re using are correct. We assume that this is because of an increase in these types of phishing attacks.”

Cyber incidents rank top in the entertainment and media, financial services, technology and telecommunications industries, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2018.

The report revealed that cyber incidents remain a top threat with 38% of responses for South African businesses, which is reported to lose billions of rands a year to cyber attacks.

The three Goliaths – Jason, Donovan and Nicholas – do stand-up comedy and entertains at workshops, conferences, award ceremonies and events.

Craig Rosewarne, Managing Director at Wolfpack Information Risk, which is a threat intelligence firm that specialises in understanding and predicting cyber threats, said small and medium businesses are just as vulnerable as big businesses when it comes to hacking.

“Their challenge however is that security is often the last thought until they get stung and end up either losing a substantial amount of money or leaking their customer’s sensitive data,” he told Fin24.

Wolfpack has assisted many small and medium sized businesses whose invoices have been hacked, said Roseware. In this regard it has found three common causes:

1. Attackers will perform reconnaissance on key individuals in IT / Finance / Execs and send a targeted spear phishing email to target their machines for access or further information

2. Spyware is loaded on their devices that record keystrokes and take screenshots for the attacker

3. Compromising their online hosting / email platform and adding in rules for any email that has the word “invoice” or “payment” – to send a duplicate email to the attacker’s gmail or “burner” account.

Tips for companies

Roseware suggested that companies under attack should conduct an independent risk assessment and obtain guidance on how to mitigate risk.

“Employees should also be made aware of risks and this should be backed up with an information security policy signed by staff and contractors.”

He also stressed the importance of having up to date anti-malware software on all devices that process sensitive information.

Cyber risk is fast becoming the number one risk facing countries, governments and organisations, noted Roseware.

“In all of these scenarios it often boils down to an individual that gets compromised so cyber awareness is key in both your business and personal lives.”

Six property scams to avoid

A recent article by Business Tech highlights the leading property scams to avoid.

Engel & Völkers singled out the most predominant property scams you may encounter while searching to buy or rent property:

1. Intercepted emails

This involves scammers, hacking into the email of people involved in the transactions, such as agents or lawyers, by tricking home buyers into wiring funds to them instead of the appropriate parties. They often will use a generic email address indicating that the funds should be wired to a specific account which will then vanish without a paper trail.

2. Fraudsters posing as a buyer

They will approach a seller privately and show keen interest in the property and put in an offer. After a few days, the supposed buyer will contact the seller asking for a document to be signed to help them get their home loan approved, which the seller then signs without reading too much of the document only to discover later that a third party claims to have bought the home.
It will be found that the scam artist (the first buyer) has been marketing the home online as an agent, by taking the photos off various websites, and has found a buyer who is also unaware that something is wrong – and who might have paid a large deposit over to the supposed agent. The absolute best way to avoid this type of disaser is to use an agent from a reputable agency who’s office is availble to visit. This way you are certain of their legitimacy and they will do the due dilligence necessary to vet potential buyers.

3. Identity theft

Criminals have become much more experienced and are using stolen identity details not only to empty bank accounts but to obtain various credit accounts and even home loans, according to hard money lenders Seattle experts. They are able to delay detection of the fraud for long periods while the unpaid bills and instalments mount up.

The scammer will use false documents to pose as the property owner, register forged documents transferring a property to their name, and then get a new mortgage against the property. After securing a mortgage or line of credit, the criminal takes the cash and disappears.

4. Bait and switch scheme

This occurs when a prospective buyer offers an ‘above market value’ price to a seller. The seller, impressed by the high offer signs the contract, meanwhile the deceitful buyer has no intention to purchase the property.

Once the seller signs the contract, the seller may only sell to that buyer for a specified time, when that time ends the fraudster asks to extend the contract a few weeks to work out closing details. Sounding reasonable, the seller agrees to the extension blinded by the high offer.

In the meantime the seller keeps paying taxes, maintenance, utilities and insurance the buyer comes back to the seller with an excuse as to why this price no longer works, and requests a reduction to below market value and threatens to cancel if their demand is not met. Stressed by time and on-going costs, the seller agrees to the reduction.

5. Duplicated listings

“Agents” copy legitimate rental listings and advertise for a much cheaper price. Unfortunately, many people fall for these fake listings and wire money to the owners of these fake listings.

6. Fake rental agents

When you find a property you really like, you call the agent to arrange a viewing and they say they will meet you there. Later they call and say they won’t be able to make it anymore, but no need to worry the landlord will be there to show you around. The agent then promises to negotiate a lower price with the landlord.

When you arrive at the house you find many other people interested in renting the same place. You call the agent back to negotiate a better price that you’re happy with; they will phone you back shortly to inform you of the new price, all you have to do is transfer the money for the first two months to secure the place.

On moving day, you find someone else is moving in and the agent wasn’t an agent; they just found the property online and reposted it with their own contact information. They purposely send several people at a time to view the property to generate a sense of urgency for the potential renters. Emerald Property Management is a trustworthy company, which can find the ideal place for you at a reasonable price.

Avoid becoming a victim

  • Be wary when you are requested to make a payment for something minor like a credit check or security deposit, in most cases, there’s nothing you can do to get your money back because the scammer can’t be tracked.
  • If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Prices are considerably higher than they were a few years ago.
  • The email sounds strange – some listings hide the email address when you send a message, so you might not be able to see the address if you respond to the listing. Scammers usually use free email servers and they’ll often go by a series of random letters to make them less easily traceable.
  • The agent won’t show you the property – If you ask to see the property and they claim it’s impossible, it’s probably a fake listing. Agent will make time for people who are interested in the property.
  • The seller pushes you – the faster a scammer gets you to agree to a business deal, the faster they can steal your money and avoid getting caught. The seller will often use high-pressure tactics that attempt to push you into acting quickly in order to purchase the home. Don’t be prodded by any seller to send money.
  • The seller asks you to wire money – when you see the term “wire money” or similar variation of that phrase come up in a business conversation with someone you’ve never met, red flags should go up. Many scams entail wiring of funds because it’s more difficult to trace and enables the scammer to collect the money sooner. Scammers will come up with a variety of plausible reasons why the money should be wired rather than sent through a bank or lawyer.
  • The buyer or seller is foreign and wants to buy a home unseen – most people want to at least see a property and become familiar with the area before making a large investment. This doesn’t mean you should be wary of all foreign inquiries, but many scams often occur overseas because it’s harder to trace the person behind the fraud. Foreign buyers who don’t ask questions, act in haste, and don’t care to see the property indicate a high likelihood of fraud.
  • Be well informed about market related prices within the area you are looking to rent or buy. If a property is advertised way below the market related price for that area it should raise your concerns.
  • If you found a “bargain” online you should call the estate agency to find out if the deal is for real. Don’t call the number at the bottom of the ad because this number could lead to a fake office. Rather find the actual office number, call there and ask the receptionist to give you the number of the specific agent or branch you are looking for.
  • Be wary of agents and landlord who seem too eager or pushy to get you to live in their property or one they are marketing. A legit agent or landlord will always conduct the necessary checks and will not be too disappointed when you don’t show much interest in the property.
  • If the agent is constantly making up excuses as to why they are not able to meet you or show you the property, you should also be worried. The chances are good that they don’t have access to the property and are stalling for time until they can think of a clever way to get you to pay the deposit.
  • Never pay a deposit before you have viewed a property.

Get more insight on real estate by checking out Taylor Private Estate land for sale Caversham.

Source: Business Tech

Top tricks used by card fraudsters in SA

By Timothy Rangongo for Business Insider SA 
Source: South African Banking Risk Information Centre

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has released its card fraud statistics for 2017.

South Africa’s banking industry was hit with a 1% increase in credit card fraud in 2017, which rose to R436.7 million, according to the latest report on card fraud.

Debit cards were the least hit by fraud, which declined by 8.5% to R342.2 million in the same period.

CEO of SABRIC, Kalyani Pillay, attributes the decrease in debit card fraud to a reduction in lost and/or stolen and counterfeit card fraud.
“Criminals are always adjusting their tactics to take advantage of innovations in the banking landscape.”

Sabric lists these as the trending types of fraud in South Africa:

Lost and/or stolen card fraud
In many cases lost and/or stolen cards are obtained by interfering with customers while transacting at an ATM; criminals distract victims by offering them assistance during which the card and PIN are obtained.
The card is then used repeatedly at ATMs until the daily cash withdrawal limit on the card is reached, after which high value transactions are made at merchants.

Not-received issued-card fraud
Here, criminals intercept a genuinely-issued card before it reaches the customer.

False-application card fraud
Accounts are opened by falsifying a credit applications.

Counterfeit card fraud
Counterfeit cards are made using information stolen from the magnetic strip of a genuine card, usually through card skimming.

Card-skimming via Point of Sale (POS) devices
The first POS skimming devices were retrieved in South Africa in 2014, according to Sabric. Criminals steal legitimate POS devices from merchants and then convert them into skimming devices. In some instances, devices are swapped between different merchants to make it seem as if all devices are accounted for.

Account-takeover card fraud
The common denominator for both account-takeover fraud and false-application fraud is access to the personal information of victims. Takeovers are done by obtaining personal or client-specific information, pretending to be the client and then applying for a replacement card.

Card not present card fraud (CNP)
These transactions are done via telephone or internet. Criminals source card data in various ways such as phishing, vishing, malware, and data breaches.

How you can protect yourself against card fraud:

  • Don’t disclose personal information such as passwords and PINs when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax, or even email
  • Don’t write down PINs and passwords, and avoid obvious choices like birth dates and first names
  • Don’t use any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) as a password, user ID, or personal identification number (PIN)
  • Don’t use internet cafes or unsecured terminals (hotels, conference centres etc.) to do your banking
  • Review your account statements on a timely basis and query disputed transactions with your bank immediately
  • When shopping online, only place orders with your card on secure websites
  • Do not send e-mails that quote your card number and expiry date
  • Ensure that you get your own card back after every purchase
  • Report lost and stolen cards immediately
  • If you have a debit, cheque and credit card, don’t choose the same PIN for all of them. If you lose one, the others will still be safe
  • While transacting always keep an eye on the ATM card slot to ensure that your card is not taken out, skimmed, and replaced without your knowledge
  • Should your card be retained by an ATM, contact your bank and block your card before you leave the ATM
  • Subscribe to your bank’s SMS notification services to inform you of any transactional activity on your account

 

Stock losses, fraud not top-of-mind in SA

South African businesses need a different mindset to address ongoing stock losses and fraud.

In the absence of a “proper” risk mitigation plan and loss control blueprint, South African business owners will never really address the critical levels of theft and fraud impacting on our economy, according to commercial investigator and international risk consultant, Kyle Condon (Managing Director at D&K Management Consultants).

“Experience has taught me that trust and effective loss control do not go together. We live in a society that has criminal presence constantly lurking around us. Old style security measures and trusting of everybody have left businesses open to losses like an open wound exposed to a sewer. Employees need to be watched continuously and loss control tactics need to be revised to accommodate this,” says Condon.

With many businesses operating on shoe-string budgets, security is often one of the first things to go. Ironically, says Condon; “it should be one of the portfolios that get additional budget assistance. When, companies cut security, those employees that were always dissuaded from going through with criminal action often go over the edge and ‘raid the cookie jar’.”

While South Africa has one of the most corrupt governments sketched on the political portrait, expecting every employee to behave in a moral honest way is far from realistic. We see what our leaders do and follow suit.

Sadly, most companies choose to ignore this red flag and continue to fool themselves into believing that the presence of a uniformed security officer or two is adequate to prevent and deal with internal criminal activity. Condon believes that “old school” security is a thing of the past. “It is time we accept that our businesses, like our homes, require proper defences,” states Condon.

So, what exactly does this mean?

“Our business sector has major structural employment weaknesses, due largely to political pressures, window-dressed appointments and fear of union retribution, this has led to a breakdown of strong policies and procedures that existed in the past. Many managers are just too afraid to confront the issues or speak out in fear of being branded or painted with the race brush. And, as a result, policies and zero tolerance are eroded. Unions have gained a lot of power, often holding companies to “ransom” when it comes to enforcing strong security measures. Polygraphs, for example, are always declined by Union reps, searching procedures get labelled as an invasion of one’s privacy, etc. Old school security methods have been watered down to create a mere ‘illusion of loss control’,” he says.

Modern day loss control and security plans must include the following key concepts:

• Internal investigation specialists (undercover agents) deployed as, I like to say, ‘modern day spies’.
• Quarterly sweeping and debugging of executive offices and meeting rooms.
• Strike action plans, designed specifically for the individual company and its employees to provide proper Duty of Care during strike action.
• Alignment with a reputable forensic investigator or company who understands the methods, methodology and principles of fraud and financial crimes, in the workplace.
• Thorough pre-employment screening of new candidates, including checking of criminal records through fingerprinting.
• A steadfast CCTV viewing plan conducted off site by an independent viewer, providing monthly viewing reports covering all aspects of risky behaviour, suspicious actions and overall health and safety concerns.
• Travel risk reports, for employees traveling to potentially hostile environments both locally and internationally. This would include arranging VIP protection, where needed.
• Annual security surveys to address all shortcomings of the physical security measures of the business.
• Due diligence must become part and parcel of the sales teams’ portfolios, before stock or material leaves for suspicious clients an investigation unit should first check out that all is above-board, and that you are not being scammed.
• Handing over the time consuming and demanding security portfolio to a dedicated and qualified loss control manager.

“I do not agree with companies splitting up the security portfolio and contracting various players for various things. Managing this portfolio is a job that requires full time participation. This is exactly what D&K Management Consultants does for its clients. We provide the correct expertise in one unique portfolio designed around modern-day risk,” says Condon. Sexual harassment attorney San Francisco covers the cases of employment breaches.

“We are in many ways a country at war with itself, and business is not spared any of the risks that a ‘war’ environment brings. Therefore, defending your company requires a modern day ‘warfare’ approach. Intelligence, logic, expertise and strategy have replaced uniforms, guns and electric fences to a large extent”, Condon says, as he smiles.

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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