Tag: scam

How to identify a scam e-mail

Spam, scam e-mails and phishing: every day we receive hundreds of e-mails that may or not be linked to criminals trying to steal information from us.

My Office News took a look at an email we received and dissected it piece-by-piece to show you how to identify spam.

 

When the short link is clicked, it redirects to a site that downloads malware to your device.

Should you receive an email from someone claiming to be a service provider (such as a bank or ISP), rather call their main office to check the validity of the information.

Myth, busted: the missed-call scam

Warnings of a “one-ring scam” in which telephone customers return hang-up calls from foreign phone numbers, only to find they’ve been charged hefty fees and have their details stolen, are only partly true.

Although returning the call can cost some serious money, rumours are rife that these calls can somehow result in your list of contacts being downloaded or your banking details being compromised. This is fake news.

The scam
Telephone customers return one-ring calls from foreign phone numbers and are charged hefty fees.
This scam has been brought to the fore recently by news networks like MyBroadband and The Citizen, while providers such as Vodacom and MTN have sent customers warnings.

South Africans who received missed calls from as far afield as Guinea returned the calls, only to find that they have been billed exorbitant amounts, even if they were only on the line for a short time.

“Someone just told me she called back a missed call from Guinea and got charged R780 for a few seconds!” social media law specialist Emma Sadleir reported on Twitter.

MTN told MyBroadband that this is the resurgence of an old scam that originated in Japan known as Wangiri.

Wangiri literally translates to “one and cut”, implying that the phone is allowed to ring once before cutting the call.

Computers randomly dial numbers and drop the calls in the hope that unsuspecting victims will return them, only to be billed at premium rates.

“Our investigation has found that some of these numbers are designed to prolong customers to stay longer on the line by a recorded ring-tone or a long recorded message,” MTN says.

Vodacom sent out an advisory about the surge in Wangiri fraud, and told its clients not to return calls from unknown international numbers.

Fact versus fiction
Here’s the fact and the fiction surrounding this scam.

False: Returning a “one-ring” foreign call will enable scammers to download your contacts list and access your financial account information.
This is an impossibility. The only way this information can be compromised is if you provide the scammer with it.

True: Phone scammers sometimes lure potential victims through the use of “one-ring hang-ups”. Numbers can be set up to charge a premium fee, and when calls are returned unsuspecting victims are billed exorbitantly.
Scammers may also use their wits to elicit sensitive and confidential information from victims, such as financial details.

Origins
The “one ring” telephone scam is similar in form to the venerable 809 area code scam in that both involve trying to dupe unwary phone customers into calling a foreign phone number in order to stick them with hefty charges. While the 809 scam involves sending pages, faxes, voicemails, or e-mail messages that supposedly relay important information (e.g., news about a distressed family member or a notification of prize winnings) in order to lure the recipient into calling a provided phone number, the “one ring” scam employs a simpler technique: the scammers place calls to blocks of phone numbers (sometimes with the use of robo-call devices), disconnect each call after a single ring, and hope that the owners of some of those numbers will be curious enough to call back.

Dubbed “one-ring hang-ups,” the scheme targets millions of mobile-phone lovers. Unscrupulous operators make thousands of random calls from normal phone lines, letting the phones ring once before hanging up. They count on inquisitive folk, or those anxious not to miss a single call, ringing back the number shown on their screens.

Once hooked, the victims of the “one ring” scam are supposedly separated from their money through a variety of means: keeping them on the line for as long as possible while they rack up international call tolls, duping them into unknowingly calling premium-rate phone numbers (akin to the 900 Pay-Per-Call services), or enticing them into signing up for pricey services. As with the 809 scam, however, it appears that the prevalence of the one-ring scam and the potential damages its victims might suffer are considerably lower than the circulated warnings about it often suggest.

It’s certainly not true, as stated in the example cited above, that the mere act of calling a particular number would allow a phone user’s contacts and banking information to be stolen by someone else. That sort of information would be compromised only if another party somehow hacked into the user’s phone (via a malicious app or other code) and/or the user actively did something to enable access to it. (In either case, there’s no obvious reason why such a scheme would require the victim to place a call to the information-stealer rather than the other way around.)

Some versions of this warning maintain that “You may also be charged a monthly fee for joining some club you know nothing about. By calling the number, you ‘authorize’ them to place a fee on your cellphone bill.” However, it seems to be more the case that victims aren’t subscribed to services simply through the act of calling a phone number, but rather that the scammers use social engineering techniques (including harassment) to persuade them to subscribe to pay services or give out their credit card information.

Those who do [call back] find themselves listening to advertisements for all sorts of dodgy services. Some firms try to hook callers into subscribing, say, to high-priced chat-lines or Internet services. Others dupe callers into providing credit-card numbers. Using caller-identification in reverse helps to harass more users. Some victims decide it is easier to pay than face fresh hassles. Even if only a small fraction are snared, it is still a lucrative ploy: their own charges are small since they never give their quarry a chance to answer.

Other versions of the warning caution that cell phone owners who return one-ring calls are charged $19.95 for an “international call fee” and then a “$9.00 per minute charge” on top of that. But Sprint currently lists its standard rate for placing calls from U.S. cell phones to the countries mentioned in the above example (Belarus and Latvia) at between $2.65 and $2.69 per minute (and as low as $0.41 to $0.43 per minute if the caller subscribes to an international long-distance plan), so a victim who returned such a

call and stayed on the line for a couple of minutes before hanging up might realistically be out $5 or so in toll charges. Phone customers can generally get any “premium service” (i.e., “international call fee”) charges tacked on to such a call reversed by contacting their phone service providers and documenting the circumstances of the call.

Many forms of this warning list specific country/area codes that phone users should never place calls to (because of their association with various phone scams), including 473 (Grenada), 268 (Antigua), 876 (Jamaica), 809 (the Dominican Republic), 375 (Belarus), 371 (Latvia), and 284 (the British Virgin Islands). There is, of course, nothing wrong with connecting to numbers with these country/area codes if you happen to know whom you’re calling: all cautions regarding the one-ring scam (and similar schemes) apply only to solicitations to contact entities unknown to you. If you have to call a number associated with a dialing code that’s unfamiliar to you, you can use a code lookup site to check it out first.
Do not return phone calls from foreign numbers you do not recognise. If the person on the other end is legitimately looking for you, the chances are they will not hang up are one or two rings, and they will leave a voicemail message.

By Barbara Mikkelson for Snopes; Jan Vermeulen for MyBroadband

Sanlam warns of personal loan scam

Scammers are getting increasingly bolder in their methods to dupe consumers.

In the latest incident, financial services giant Sanlam has warned on Friday that a false entity is using its name to flaunt personal loans to consumers.

The false entity, called “Sanlam Loans SA Pty”, is circulating personal loan offers to consumers under the Sanlam brand name, using a fake logo and contact details and presents clients with a “guaranteed” loan offering of 4.5% return.

The return will supposedly be in the form “of personal, commercial, leasing, debt consolidation and home loans”.

Sanlam said it strongly disassociates itself from these loan offers and has no connections to Sanlam Loans SA Pty.

Sanlam’s loan offer is managed through Sanlam Personal Loans (Pty) Ltd, a registered credit provider.

It said its Forensic Investigations unit is investigating these offers and discouraged all clients to refrain from acting on the offer.

Sanlam is not the only company being targeted by scammers at the moment. Fin24 reported recently about a loan scam which falsely claimed to be on behalf of Wonga.com.

Wonga.com South Africa warned consumers against this loan scam after it became aware of people offering loans to consumers under the Wonga company logo, registration number and NCR number.

Consumers were urged to remain vigilant against personal loan scams and other forms of phishing by fraudsters.

Statistics released by the South African Anti-Phishing Service in 2013 indicated that the country is the second-most targeted country for phishing scams in the world.

In addition, the financial surveillance department of the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) said it has seen a notable increase in advanced fee scams (also known as “419” or “Nigerian letter scams”) in SA over the last few years, particularly through the use of mobile phones.

In the Wonga.com scam the criminals sent consumers emails claiming to be from Wonga, offering them (fake) loans with unrealistic interest rates.

Once a recipient contacted the scammers, they were requested to provide personal information and to deposit various amounts of money into different private bank accounts.

This continued along with repeated requests for an advance fee payable, and the victim never receives the loan funds.

Wonga.com warned that it does not offer business loans and the only way to apply for a real Wonga loan is via the Wonga.com website – never by email or SMS.

In addition, Wonga offers a maximum loan of R2 500 for first time customers. Wonga will never request any payment upfront for a loan.

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.

Continue reading

New cell phone scam costs you R5 a day

The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) has uncovered a new cell phone scam where South African mobile users are secretly subscribed to a paid-for adult service.

Following a complaint, WASPA’s Media Monitor identified the case of auto-subscription – where a consumer is subscribed to a service without asking or consenting to be subscribed.

All a user needed to do to be subscribed to the service was to visit a Web site and click on a link. No indication was given they would be subscribed to the service.

A panel of three adjudicators, who are specialists in information and communications technology law, reviewed the complaint and details provided to determine if there is any breach of the WASPA Code of Conduct.

How it happens
The investigation of the service shows that the user of the cell phone would not have known he was being subscribed to a subscription service, as the network confirmation page was not visible to the user.

The user never saw the network confirmation page, and therefore could not click on it to subscribe to the service.

However, this network-hosted confirmation page is ostensibly approved by the user, as the provider of the service fools the confirmation page into reporting that the user confirmed the subscription.

The first time the consumer becomes aware of subscribing to the service is after R5 has been billed to their account and when they receive an SMS welcoming them to the subscription service.
According to the panel, the service involved adult content, and there were no warnings to this effect.

There was also no reference to the fact that this was a subscription service on the Web site, nor were pricing, billing, or terms and conditions shown to the user.

Your number available without your consent
In this case, the cell phone number of the user is harvested without their knowledge or consent, simply by the consumer browsing a particular Web site.

“The consumer would probably wonder how the subscription service was able to know which cell phone to bill, as the consumer never typed their cell phone number into a text field on the Web site,” the panel said.
This insidious collection of personal information intrudes on a consumer’s right to privacy, said the panel.

It would appear that the “Mobile Network Providers” allow for this information to be made available to third-party Web sites.

WASPA temporarily shuts down service
The panel said this is a good example of a cynical and criminal attempt to make money at the expense of the consumer.

“No real attempt is made to comply with the WASPA Code of Conduct at all, and so the breaches are numerous and both flagrant and extreme,” the panel concludes.

In an emergency panel meeting on the matter, it found that there was a high likelihood of considerable harm to the public if this service was not stopped.

The service provider’s WASPA membership was suspended until all of its services were provided to the Media Monitor for review and testing to rule out any further harm to consumers.

Source: www.mybroadband.co.za

New WhatsApp scams in South Africa

WhatsApp is popular in South Africa, which has resulted in it gaining the attention of fraudsters and scammers.

Criminals try to take advantage of the platform’s popularity by looking to make a quick buck off unsuspecting victims.

Some of the biggest scams reported on the messaging platform in South Africa and around the world are described below.

WhatsApp users in South Africa should keep their eyes open for fraudsters who use these tricks.

WhatsApp OTP favourites scam

A new scam doing the rounds in SA involves a scammer tricking you into believing he is someone on your contact list whose number has changed.

In reality, the scammer has gained access to a contact list which contains your number.

Once he believes he has you hooked, he tells you an SMS is being sent to your phone that contains a number – which you must forward to him so he can add you to his favourites.

This is a one-time PIN, which is meant to protect your accounts from fraudsters. Never send these PINs to anyone in a text message.

WhatsApp malware link-sharing scam

Another scam doing the rounds promises discounts from popular restaurants or stores.

To redeem the offer, it asks you to share the promotion to 10 contacts – which appears in your chats as a “Look [link]”.

BT has warned that clicking the link will install malware on your device, which can be used to steal your identity or access your banking details.

WhatsApp “Ultra-Light WiFi” scam

A variant of this scam doing the rounds, according to Hoax Slayer, promises a new WhatsApp feature – Ultra-Light WiFi – in return for sharing a link 10 times.

When you click on the link your are tricked into providing your personal information via a survey website. In some cases the Web site will infect your phone with malware.

WhatsApp subscription competition

A WhatsApp “competition” is doing the rounds, where users receive a message which links to a Facebook page.

Navigating to this page lets you spin a prize wheel, which promises a prize, such as a new smartphone. Spinning the wheel takes you to a new page, where to claim your prize you have to share your result 10 times.

Clicking the continue link after sharing your result takes you to a new page where you are told your prize has been reserved.

To claim the prize, you have to enter your cellphone number and click a “Yes, I want” button.

This takes you to a new screen which informs you an SMS will be sent to your phone, and you are instructed to reply “Yes” to this SMS.

Doing so opts you into a R7-per-day subscription service.

WhatsApp subscription link-sharing scam

Another con doing the rounds involves using the names and logos of well-known brands.

In the example below, you are promised a Spar shopping voucher in return for completing a survey and sharing it with 10 contacts.

According to reports, once you have completed the survey, you have been signed up for a R7-per-day SMS service.

WhatsApp “add-on upgrade” SMS

This SMS campaign can cost WhatsApp users R210 per month, and involves users clicking on a link that initiates a daily deduction.

An SMS that reads: “You have not updated to the latest WhatsApp add-ons. Click here now [URL]. (Free MSG) 31655 optout dial 0110621424”, is sent to smartphone users.

Clicking on the link in the SMS takes users to a screen which asks them to “Update your wall 4 WhatsApp”.

The fine print below a green “Continue” button shows that the message is for a subscription to a social network called Buddiechat, which costs R7 per day.

WhatsApp pop-up update scam

A pop-up window posing as a WhatsApp update can infect a device with malware if clicked on.

Users are advised to only update the messaging app through official channels, such as your smartphone platform’s app store.

The pop-up asks users to download an update, or install a new version of WhatsApp while they are browsing the Internet .

The pop-ups are not linked to WhatsApp in any way and are created by malware pushers.

Wangiri fraud

WhatsApp Wangiri fraud is where local WhatsApp users are urged to call international numbers.

Wangiri is a type of phone fraud where the perpetrator dials random numbers and then hangs up after one ring. Victims call back, and are charged premium rates.

The WhatsApp-based version of Wangiri fraud sees local users receive a WhatsApp message with a contact attachment.

The number in the contact is different to the number the message originated from. Calling this number back could cost you a lot of money.

Source: www.mybroadband.co.za

The six red flags of a money scam

Consumers should treat any offer of an above market return on their investment with suspicion, regardless of whether it is promised in cash, interest, income or capital gains, warns Justus van Pletzen, CEO of the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA).

FIA would like to warn consumers against “wasting their money on so-called ‘get rich quick’ schemes”.

“Wealth is generated through hard work and smart investing and there is no way that you will turn a few hundred rand into a fortune over a few months – those who try soon find themselves out of pocket,” says Van Pletzen.

He says the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb) is investigating more illegal deposit taking scams than ever before.

The common feature of a “get rich quick” scheme is a promise of an unrealistic return while the common emotions driving a consumer’s decision to participate in such schemes include desperation, greed and the fear of missing out.

The perfect Ponzi scheme must do two more things: It must be able to demonstrate that the unrealistic return is being achieved and it must have a clever explanation as to how the scheme generates so much more return than mainstream asset managers or banks.

“One of the saddest things about local scams is that they often lure in the old and vulnerable who are desperate to supplement declining retirement incomes due to the current low interest rate environment,” says Van Pletzen.

He provides six red flags that may signal a Ponzi or pyramid scam:

Abnormally high returns
Steer clear of investment schemes that offer abnormally high returns – and treat the phrase “guaranteed return” with a measure of suspicion too.
Consumers usually understand the concept of higher risk for higher returns as this is a fundamental principle of investing. But consumers do not understand that the returns being offered by Ponzi or Pyramid scheme crooks are way off the charts.
For example, South African investors can expect around 7.0% a year in cash (low risk) or 15% a year in the stock market (high risk) over five years. You should be highly suspicious of any product or opportunity that promises a return that is higher than the country’s top asset managers can generate.
Remember that no return is ever “guaranteed” in the world of investments and that even the most modest of investments carry some risk. The guaranteed products offered by large and respected financial institutions are based on solid actuarial models and involve a complex trade-off between risk and reward.

Vague business models
Steer clear of investment schemes that are based on vague business or investment models.
Before you invest you should make sure that you understand how the returns are generated.
You should never fall for claims from the Ponzi crooks that the investment or business model is “confidential” or “too complex” for you to understand. The bottom line is that if you do not understand the product you should not invest.

More participants
Avoid investment schemes that rely on you bringing in more participants in order to generate a return.
This is a classic trait of both Pyramid and Ponzi schemes, with the former requiring you to bring in additional participants to qualify for any return.
Legitimate investment tools do not require you to bring in more participants. It is also common knowledge that new participants to a scheme will eventually dry up, resulting in a total collapse or implosion of the scheme.

Undue pressure
Steer clear of investment schemes that place you under undue pressure to invest.
If you are being pressured to make the initial investment – or are frequently encouraged to increase the size of your investment – then beware.

Complex foreign exchange
Take care when considering offshore investments that rely on complex foreign exchange transactions and shifting money across borders.
All of the warning signs given above are compounded when the opportunity requires your cash to be taken offshore into banks that are outside of the South African regulator’s reach.

Too good to be true
If it is too good to be true, it usually is.
Any investment with a high rate of return that is says to be “guaranteed” should be treated with suspicion – if it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

“People who plan carefully for their financial futures are less likely to fall victim to a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme, because they have more realistic return expectations and a better understanding of how the savings and investments industry works,” says Van Pletzen.

“The desperation that lures many older persons into ‘get rich quick’ schemes can be avoided by saving sensibly throughout you working years and reaching retirement with enough to support yourself through retirement.”
In his view the best protection when making an investment is to transact with a reputable financial institution with assistance from a licensed financial adviser, financial planner or insurance broker.

“In this way you can transact in confidence because both the financial services provider and adviser must be registered with or licensed by the Financial Services Board (FSB) and subject to the many rules and regulations put in place specifically to protect consumers,” he says.

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top