Tag: fraud

By Bradley Prior for MyBroadband

Old Mutual has confirmed that a portion of its customers have been signed up to its policies without their permission.

This follows a reader telling MyBroadband that they had been subscribed to, and had been billed for, two different policies for which they had never signed up.

The reader, who is a teacher employed by the government, said five of their coworkers had been affected by similar issues over the past few years, and was aware of more teachers working elsewhere who had also been affected.

The reader had been billed for thousands of rand over nearly a year-long period. One of the policies was with Old Mutual and had been billed since November 2019, while the other was with Emerald Life and had been billed since April 2020.

The reason the reader only picked up on this issue many months after it had begun is that they do not get regular payslips from their state employer.

Old Mutual finds the problem
MyBroadband brought the matter to Old Mutual’s attention, and it investigated the situation.

Upon the conclusion of this investigation, Old Mutual told MyBroadband that there was indeed foul play at work.

“Our investigations identified individuals that had been signed up for Old Mutual policies without their consent,” said Old Mutual.

“The implicated parties have subsequently been dismissed and barred from conducting intermediary work.”

Old Mutual also confirmed that it cancels policies that are found to have been opened unlawfully and refunds customers in these cases.

Old Mutual told MyBroadband that the parties in question were independent broker agents who were licensed under the FSCA and accredited to sell Old Mutual products.

Following Old Mutual confirming the problem, the reader told MyBroadband that they were compensated for the full amount lost due to this fraud from November 2019 to October 2020, as well as an additional R500.

Old Mutual fighting fraud
Old Mutual noted that fraud and identity theft are an industry-wide issue, and said it “investigates promptly” and “takes decisive action” in such cases.

“Old Mutual is working with the Provincial Treasury Anti-Fraud Unit and the SAPS Commercial Fraud and Statutory Investigations Unit to gain insight into identifying such incidents earlier, more frequently and accurately. We also conduct regular Fraud Awareness training and engagements with employees,” it explained.

“Old Mutual has a zero-tolerance attitude towards Financial Crime and we take appropriate action against any employee or agent implicated in fraud.”

It also noted that it runs consumer education campaigns to ensure the public is aware of how this fraud can happen and encouraged customers to stay vigilant.

“We have consumer education campaigns to make the public aware of this type of fraud and encourage customers to remain vigilant.”

How to protect yourself against fraud
Old Mutual noted that its campaigns to educate the public on this type of fraud includes encouraging its customers to review their payslips and bank statements on a continuous basis.

This will help them to find and report any transactions that they deem to be suspect.

If they detect such deductions, Old Mutual said customers should contact them in one of the following ways:

  • Email: Complaintadmin@oldmutual.com
  • Call MFC Servicing Call Centre: 0860 607 000
  • Visit any Old Mutual retail branch

3M expands actions to fight Covid fraud

Source: Medical Process Outsourcing

3M continues to fight the global pandemic from every angle, and help ensure a safe supply of needed personal protective equipment, by expanding its region-specific resources to report and stop fraud around the world.

The company has launched an aggressive legal effort to stop profiteers who are attempting to take advantage of the demand for 3M products used by healthcare workers and first responders. Building on this work, 3M has established hotlines around the world to report suspected fraud and has created online resources to help spot price-gouging, identify authentic 3M respirators and ensure products are from 3M authorised distributors.

3M has investigated more than 7 700 fraud reports globally, filed 19 lawsuits, and has been granted nine temporary restraining orders and seven preliminary injunctions. More than 13,500 false or deceptive social media posts, over 11 500 fraudulent e-commerce offerings and at least 235 deceptive domain names have been removed. 3M has been awarded damages or has received settlement payments in seven cases, with all proceeds being donated to COVID-19 related charities.

3M has not, and will not, increase the prices of its respirators as a result of the pandemic. 3M is a global company with factories that produce respirators and other critical products needed to fight COVID-19 in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia.

To combat increased counterfeiting and online fraud during the COVID-19 outbreak, 3M is working with law enforcement and customs agencies in every region of the world.

3M is also engaged with many major e-marketplace operators to detect and disrupt fraudulent and counterfeit respirator offers, including Amazon, Alibaba, Mercadolibre, Lazada, eBay, Flipkart, Shopee, Made-in-China and several others.

In particular:

  • Since the pandemic began, 3M has worked with customs and law enforcement agencies around the world to seize approximately 3.5 million counterfeit respirators, either as the products are moving through customs, or in targeted raids against suspected resellers and manufacturers of counterfeit products.
  • 3M has engaged with law enforcement agencies to fight counterfeiting in more than 1,200 actions around the world.
    In Latin America, 3M has worked with customs agencies in more than 15 cases to seize counterfeit respirators being imported into the region from other parts of the world, with several of the seized consignments containing more than 10,000 counterfeit respirators.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, 3M has worked with police and the Dubai Department of Economic Development to seize over 600,000 counterfeit respirators.
  • In Vietnam, a 3M investigation led to a raid and seizure of more than 150,000 counterfeit respirators. The Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Market Management Bureaus also seized the manufacturing equipment used to make the fake respirators.
  • In Europe, 3M is fighting multiple cases of fraud involving bad actors using .nl, .uk and .pl domain names intended to deceive buyers with offers of nonexistent or fake 3M respirators. Other scams include using the names of 3M employees in fake invoices and certificates to claim a relationship to the company. 3M is taking legal action and is working with law enforcement through the European Union.
  • In India, 3M is working with law enforcement agencies in multiple states to investigate and raid manufacturing operations producing counterfeit N95 respirators, and resellers offering counterfeit N95 respirators to the public, seizing fake products and holding bad actors responsible.
  • In South Africa, 3M is investigating numerous cases of fraud and the sale of counterfeit respirators. In two recent cases, South African customs seized over 100 000 counterfeit 3M respirators.

These are just some examples of the many actions 3M is taking to stop and deter fraud to protect people around the world.

 

TERS payments suspended with immediate effect

Source: NEASA

The Department of Employment and Labour has suspended all TERS payments that are currently outstanding.

The Department has identified a number of anomalies in respect of past payments made to persons who are deceased, imprisoned or minor.

The Department will be comparing its database with that of the Department of Home Affairs in order to rectify this situation going forward.

It is unclear for how long payments will be suspended.

Cash-strapped employees struggled to apply for TERS benefits in July, amid a series of hiccups within the system.

Moneyweb previously reported that applications for May opened late, as well as June applications, which were closed shortly after due to security breaches. The system only came back online in the second weekend of July.

SABRIC (South African Banking Risk Information Centre) has warned bank clients to protect their mobile devices.

The theft of mobile phones is not a new phenomenon; however, there is an emerging trend where mobile phones that are being snatched from owners, affording criminals the opportunity to gain access to the victim’s personal and even confidential information which can then be used to commit crime.

Mobile phones are a convenient way to stay connected. They enable easy access to family and friends, make it possible to access vast stores of online information and can provide hours of entertainment. Despite these benefits you must always remain vigilant because your mobile phone stores far more information than you may be aware of. This is even more applicable if you use your mobile device to do your banking. Remember, your phone is equal to a bank card and could even act as a gateway to your bank account

“Personal information is a valuable commodity for criminals and because so much of it is on our phones, we need to take mobile security very seriously,” says Susan Potgieter, acting CEO of SABRIC.

There are a number of ways that criminals could access information stored on your mobile phone if it is stolen, to try and defraud you:

  • Criminals access all open applications on your unlocked phone and view your sensitive data
  • Social engineering is used to obtain your usernames and passwords stored in the cloud
  • Vishing might occur, where criminals call you and manipulate you into believing that they are from the bank to coerce you into revealing confidential information like PIN’s or passwords
  • Phishing occurs where you are sent an email, which you believe to be from the bank or a legitimate service provider, which asks you to click on a link that requests your PIN’s or passwords. Once your password has been compromised on your snatched phone, all other credentials are available and may be exploited.
  • Your credentials could also be compromised through shoulder surfing in public places such as restaurants.

In the event that your mobile phone is lost or stolen, borrow a phone and contact your bank immediately so that they can deactivate your banking app, block cards on other apps containing your bank card details and block your bank account. Make sure you always have your banks hotline number stored somewhere other than on your mobile phone. If you have activated the ‘Find My iPhone’ or ‘Find my Device’ facility from the web to locate or wipe your device, be aware that fraudsters may attempt to Vish or Phish you. If you receive an email or SMS after doing this, don’t click on any links as these are not safe.

“When a bank client’s mobile phone is stolen, they tend to focus on protecting their photos and social media profiles, however, their highest priority should be protecting their money,” concludes Potgieter.

Tips for banking clients

PINS and passwords

  • Reset/change your passwords and PINs often
  • Set different and complex passwords for each app or service. Ensure that these are not stored on a password manager app or on the phone itself
  • Never save your banking app username and password on your device in the contacts or notes
  • Never autosave your banking app username and password on your device
  • Disable the autosave function on your smart phone
  • Ensure that you have set additional security controls on your device for adding biometrics such as fingerprint or facial recognition, for instance you can enable your device to ask for the device password to add another person’s biometric on your device.

Behaviour

  • Do not click links in SMSes or emails stating that your lost or stolen device has been located as criminals use this as a way to get your banking app credentials
  • Always be vigilant by being aware of who is around you when using your phone in public

Your device

  • Treat your mobile device the same way you would treat your bank card
  • Pickpocketing is prevalent so ensure that your handbag or and backpacks are properly closed or zipped
  • If your mobile device is lost or stolen notify your Bank immediately to freeze your banking profile and prevent the perpetrators from using your banking app
  • In addition, contact your mobile service provider to block/stop your SIM card and handset to prevent criminals from getting any One Time PINs for fraudulent transactions
  • If your Apple device is stolen, log onto to your iCloud account to restore all factory settings so that all your personal data is wiped from the device
  • Avoid using Public WiFi “hotspots”. It is risky to connect your smartphone to just any available WiFi hotspot. Savvy hackers can spoof a WiFi connection and gain access to usernames and passwords stored on your smartphone
  • Consider keeping your banking app on two devices – this will enable you to block the stolen mobile from the other device and also change the log in credentials at a moment’s notice. Most banks will still ask you to call them to report the theft to ensure that all access is blocked for the stolen phone. Your bank can also advise how to get passwords changed
  • When calling the bank to report the phone as stolen, request that they place a temporary hold on your entire account to allow you the time to change, replace and update all of your info

Banking app

  • Always log out of your banking app manually once you have finished transacting
  • Keep your daily EFT and ATM limits low as some banking apps and internet banking profiles will require that contact be made with the bank before the limit can be increased on your profile

By Phillip de Wet for Business Insider SA

Scammers are separating helpful South Africans from their money in what appears to be a wave of fraud that relies on hijacking WhatsApp accounts – and then simply asking for money.

The scammers first take control of a victim’s phone number, usually by porting the number to a new service provider, and so associating it with a SIM card under their control. That allows them to receive confirmatory SMSes from WhatsApp, and so take control of an existing account, while the now-offline victim is none the wiser.

Now able to impersonate the victim, the scammers access the phone numbers of friends and acquaintances, in many instances seemingly just waiting for incoming messages, or by way of WhatsApp groups to which the victim belongs. Then they simply ask for money.

Number porting has in the past often been used to intercept one-time PIN (OTP) numbers – but that requirers scammers to have control of bank accounts, either by skimming credit card information or stealing login details for online banking.

In the current wave of scams, the attackers do not need such access. Friends of victims are asked to send money via services such as First National Bank’s eWallet, which sends the code required to withdraw money from an ATM via SMS – with the cash immediately available.

As of Wednesday it was not yet clear how widespread the new scam was, with network operators saying they were detecting only a small number of fraudulent attempts to port numbers – while many people said they were receiving worrying notifications, or had already seen their friends approached for money.

Here’s how to protect yourself against both sides of the latest WhatsApp hijacking scam.

Turn on security notifications in WhatsApp.
WhatsApp security code settings
WhatsApp will alert you when a contact changes their phones – if you let it. For those in many big WhatsApp groups – with people who like to switch phones – the constant messages that a contact’s “security code has changed” can becoming annoying, so some people turn it off.

If you are one of those people, turn those notifications back on by going to “settings”, then selecting “account”, and from there “security”.

Should a “friend” ask for money shortly after their security code changes, be extremely suspicious.

Don’t ignore porting SMSes.
Cellphone companies will send out notification, by SMS, before porting a number – but will consider no response as permission. If you receive an SMS that warns your number is to be ported, do not ignore it.

If you are worried that message might be a scam in itself, phone your network provider on the usual service number.

Don’t turn off your phone if you’re getting annoying calls.
Some victims of porting say they were bombarded by annoying phone calls before their numbers were hijacked. The idea behind constantly ringing your number is to make you turn off your phone – so that you won’t receive porting notifications, and won’t notice you have suddenly been kicked off the network.

If someone keeps phoning then putting down the phone before you can answer, or you keep receiving calls with nobody on the other side, assume you are being scammed, and rather put your phone on silent while watching out for SMSes.

Don’t ignore a loss of cellphone signal.
If your phone suddenly won’t connect to your mobile network – and you aren’t in the middle of nowhere, or in an area being load-shed – assume your number is being hijacked, and get in touch with your network service provider as soon as possible.

Don’t register a new WhatsApp account if you change phone numbers, update your number instead.
Some victims of WhatsApp identity fraud believe they were impersonated after their former, abandoned cellphone numbers were recycled by network operators.

If you are switching numbers and want to be sure nobody can pretend to be you in future, you can change the phone number associated with your WhatsApp account.

If you really care about your security, enable the PIN function on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp 2-step verification
For ultimate protection, you can create a six-digit PIN number in WhatsApp, without which it should be impossible to register on the service – so that no number-porting scam or other mechanism will let someone steal your identity.

There is no better way to protect yourself, but this two-step verification measure comes with a couple of caveats. If you do not associate an email address with that PIN, or lose access to the email address you register, you are in deep trouble if you ever forget your PIN. Also, WhatsApp will from time to time demand the number from you, which could get annoying.

The PIN activation is under “settings”, “account”, and then “two step verification”.

Ghost employees could cost you your business

The occurrence of ghost employees on a company’s payroll system ranks as the most difficult type of payroll fraud to detect, particularly in larger companies where no proper controls exist. Over time, this can pose a serious threat to the organisation’s profitability and sustainability, declares CRS Technologies general manager Ian McAlister.

“A ghost employee is a fictitious person on the company payroll who does not actually work for the organisation,” he explains. “It could be someone who left the company or passed away, or even a fictitious person with a fake ID number but valid bank account into which a salary is paid each month. The holder of the bank account is usually the perpetrator of the ghost employee fraud.

“Another example is when a real employee appears twice on the payroll. This is done by using a different ID number to create a clone of someone. The employee’s salary is then split between the two identities but only one identity receives a tax certificate, enabling the perpetrator to declare less than what he/she actually earns to the tax collecting authority.”

It goes without saying that failure to detect ghost employees can result in considerable financial loss over time. Consequently, McAlister says companies should seriously consider implementing a robust automated payroll solution that will reduce opportunities for creating ghost employees.

“The payroll solution should feature ID number verification so that if someone tries to enter a ghost employee on the system, it will immediately reject the ID number as invalid. The CRS solution, for example, incorporates ID numbers which are attached to each employee. Each number is unique and cannot be duplicated. This means that an employee cannot appear twice on the same system.”

Audit and risk management policies that facilitate the development of controls to aid in the prevention and detection of any type of payroll fraud are also extremely important, McAlister continues. He recommends carrying out audits at least once a quarter to ensure that the number of employees on the payroll actually exist and equal the number of people employed.

“Perform frequent spot audits to check that employees’ earnings, allowances and other remuneration additions are correct and in accordance with their employment contracts. Any changes to an employee’s earnings must be approved by a senior manager and not the payroll administrator. If possible, a multiple-party approval process should be followed to mitigate collusion. It is also advisable to run comparison reports between various payroll periods. Any variance of more than a predefined percentage occurs should raise a red flag.”

McAlister points out that ghost employee fraud does not have to be perpetrated by the person who controls the entire payroll system. “Mostly it is done by the individual who authorises payroll payments or controls the addition or deletion of employees from the system. Once the ghost is created, payments are generated to the ghost without the need for additional action or review by the payroll team. All the perpetrator has to do is sit back and collect the payments.

“This being said, an indication that some type of payroll fraud is being committed could be when the payroll manager or administrator always arrives early and leaves late, and never goes on holiday or takes sick leave. Being away from the office will force them to give their work over to someone else, who may discover their crime.”

For businesses that cannot afford the luxury of an internal audit department, McAlister recommends entrusting their payroll to a third-party professional. “CRS’s outsourced payroll services includes multiple levels of accountability where different people manage different payroll duties. Fraudulent activity is further prevented by rigorous internal controls.”

“Payroll is often a business’s biggest expense. Organisations need to understand the potential devastation ghost employees and other types of payroll fraud can cause and take the necessary steps to safeguard against it,” McAlister concludes.

Look out for these five WhatsApp scams

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

WhatsApp has become the most prominent messaging platform across many parts of the world, offering a range of features which enable faster and more convenient communication.

The application also boasts impressive security, with end-to-end encryption delivering secure communication.

Due to its high rate of adoption, however, it has also become a targeted platform for scammers and attacks which aim to either compromise the user’s details or infect their device with malware.

The nature of these scams and attacks is constantly evolving, but we have listed five of the most prominent and dangerous scams currently in circulation below.

SIM-swop takeover
SIM-swop fraud is one of the biggest threats to South African WhatsApp users, considering the meteoric rise in the number of cases reported over the last year.

By committing SIM-swop fraud and taking ownership of your number, a user can easily and instantly install WhatsApp on their own smartphone and log in with your account.

The two-factor authentication message will be sent to the number used to log in, which the attacker will now have access to.

From here, they can easily scam your contacts to divulge information or send them money by impersonating you.

This type of attack is also a serious threat to the security of platforms which use SMS two-factor authentication – including many banking apps.

Users should check immediately with their cellphone provider if reception on their cellphone is lost for no apparent reason, as this is the first sign that SIM-swop fraud has been committed.

Verification request
This type of scam is spread through compromised accounts, and usually comes from a known contact who has had their account compromised.

Victims will receive a message from a user in their WhatsApp contact list who asks them to send them their WhatsApp verification code.

If they do this, scammers will have access to everything they need to access the user’s Whatsapp account and will take over their number.

From the compromised profile, scammers will either ask the victim’s contacts for verification codes to access their profile or they will pose as the victim and ask for mobile money payments.

The easiest way to avoid this scam is to never divulge your WhatsApp verification code and be wary about sending your contacts money if they are acting strangely over WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Gold
WhatsApp Gold is a well-known hoax which has been around for years, although it still seems to resurface occasionally and catches out many people.

The scam is a simple phishing attack which comprises hoax messages stating that WhatsApp has launched a new upgraded messaging service called WhatsApp Gold.

Often this premium version is advertised as free and including features such as new themes and free voice calls.

The message contains a link to download the “latest secret update” for WhatsApp Gold, which actually leads to malicious software being installed on the victim’s device.

This malware could do anything from steal your information to spy on your messages and communications.

Avoiding scams like this is easy if you follow best practices and never click on unknown links or download unverified software onto your device.

Phishing with vouchers
This is similar to the WhatsApp Gold scam, but these messages are usually sent from a number impersonating a fake contact.

The message generally states that users have won a free voucher for a local supermarket in return for them filling in a short survey.

However, the link contained in this message goes to a fake website which impersonates the supermarket’s web page.

Once users have entered their details into this website, their information has been compromised and is fed straight to the scammers.

WhatsApp is not the only platform where this scam takes place, as this is one of the most widespread and organised types of scams operating around the world.

Malicious spy apps
During your online browsing or within a WhatsApp message, you may find a link to download a WhatsApp “spy app”.

These applications claim to be able to see what your contacts are saying to each other, along with giving you the ability to intercept their pictures, voice messages, and images.

Of course there is no way to intercept WhatsApp messages in this way as all conversations are end-to-end encrypted.

Instead, these applications usually either install malware on the victim’s device or sign them up to subscription content services which charge exorbitant fees.

It is also important to realise that the Google Play Store is not infallible and can contain many malware-infested “WhatsApp Spy” apps.

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.”

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