The mobility of your cellphone allows you to bank at any time from practically anywhere. It is a safe way of doing your banking as it relies on encrypted SMS messages or secure WAP connections. WAP uses similar security as that used by Internet Banking. It is therefore important to make sure that your cellphone is locked at all times and that the latest software is downloaded to ensure your safety.
PREVALENT MODUS OPERANDI
Criminals use social engineering tactics to trick their victims into disclosing their mobile banking log on credentials. They will call their victim pretending to be from the bank. During a conversation that usually purports to be with someone from customer service, the victim is asked to disclose sensitive information - often under the pretense of a “security protocol” aimed at confirming that the caller is speaking to the correct customer.
Once the criminal has the mobile banking PIN or password, a fraudulent SIM swop is conducted on the telephone number. The correct mobile banking application is downloaded and the criminal logs in and transacts as if it is the real account holder. Because the victim’s SIM card has been deactivated, no sums notifications will be received when fraudulent transactions are conducted.
Criminals are also known to send SMS messages randomly to cell phone numbers with instructions purporting to be from mobile banking support staff. These instructions usually direct cell phone users to click on a link and to update their banking details. This link takes the victim to a spoofed website under the control of criminal where the unsuspecting victim’s personal bank details are then harvested.
After harvesting the banking details, criminals are able to access a victim’s mobile banking profile and conduct fraudulent transactions. Again the correct mobile banking application is merely downloaded using the victim’s SIM card after a SIM swop is conducted. Funds are usually transferred into beneficiary accounts controlled by criminals and they are able to speedily conduct withdrawals.
TIPS TO DO SAFE MOBILE BANKING
- Protect your phone content and personal information you saved by using a PIN or Password to access your phone. Do not leave your phone unlocked.
- Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it with anyone and make sure no one can see you entering your PIN.
- Choose an unusual PIN that is hard to guess and change it often.
- If you think your PIN has been compromised, change it immediately.
- Do not respond to competition SMS’s or MMS’s.
- If you receive a phone call requesting personal information do not respond and end the call.
- If you use a Smartphone, install an up-to-date anti-virus application to your cellphone. Most banks provide this free of charge to their customers.
- Never access your bank site through a link in a SMS.
- Never access your banking site on a public Wi-Fi network – it’s not secure and your credentials could be hacked. Rather disable Wi-Fi and switch to a cellular network option.
- Make use of the mobile banking apps provided by your bank, they go to great lengths to ensure that these are secure.
The Internet has made banking easier and more accessible. However, technological advances also create opportunities for criminals, who exploit the benefits of technology for their own benefit. The ease and speed of electronic communications makes it possible for criminals to perpetrate their crime with anonymity, making investigations complex. Managing your Internet banking profile and access in order to ensure that criminals cannot steal your hard-earned money, is extremely important.
PREVALENT MODUS OPERANDI
Criminals want access to your online facilities to steal your money and will use any number of tactics to access your confidential information. Criminals use tactics like phishing and installing malware onto their victims’ computers in order to steal personal information necessary to access their victim’s online banking profile. They also conduct fraudulent SIM swops to ensure that the One Time Password (OTP) sent by the bank to authorize a transaction, is sent to a SIM card under their control.
Criminals often use phishing to trick you into disclosing your personal information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details and mobile phone numbers. They sometimes also request your One Time Password/PIN (OTP) that will be sent to your mobile phone when transacting. They do this by sending emails that look like they come from trusted sources such as banks or legitimate companies. These mails entice the recipient to respond by clicking on a hyperlink. When clicking on the hyperlink, you will be diverted to a fraudulent website (spoof site) under the control of the criminal and any information that you enter on this page like your user name and passwords for your banking profiles and cellphone numbers, will be sent to the criminals. The information harvested in this manner is then used by criminals to access your online banking profile illegally. Once they have viewed your profile and find that there is money to be accessed, they will commit fraud on your internet banking account.
Prior to launching a phishing attack, criminals collect email addresses to which they send their spam phishing mails. They also ensure that they have control over other bank accounts into which they can pay the proceeds of crime. They arrange for a fraudulent website that resembles the real website of the company from whom the phishing mails purports to come, to be hosted on a vulnerable website and ensure that all communications received through this website are relayed to an email address under their control. Once a victim responds to the phishing mail by clicking on the hyperlink and “logging in” to the website, the sensitive information is relayed to them. Sometimes they use it immediately to access the victim’s profile and can cause an OTP to be sent to the victim’s mobile phone. The spoof website will then prompt the victim to submit the OTP. The criminal then uses the OTP to move funds fraudulently.
If they are not ready to use the compromised information immediately, they will save it for a later date and do a SIM swop to gain control over the victim’s communications when the OTP is generated during the fraudulent transaction.
Clicking on an unsolicited link or icon could also result in a victim’s computer being infected with malware. The malware (malicious software) used in internet banking fraud, is software designed to gather and send sensitive information to a predetermined destination under control of the criminal. You could be tricked into infecting your computer with malware through clicking on a link or an attachment in an email as well as through accessing a fake website purporting to sell you software in order to fight malware. Criminals deploy malware designed to harvest banking credentials. These malicious programs relay the keys typed to the criminals who then decipher what bank related usernames and passwords. The compromised information is then used to access the victim’s online banking profile unlawfully and should there be available funds, these will be removed.
SIM Swops :
Through fraudulent SIM swops, criminals are able to take control of their victims’ mobile number enabling them to receive SMS’s sent by the bank to its client, e.g. Transaction Verification Codes (TVC); Random Verification Number (RVN) PIN or One Time Passwords (OTPs). Using these codes together with compromised login credentials, criminals are able to change, add beneficiaries and transfer money out of the victim’s account.
Criminals are also known to port their victim’s cell phone number fraudulently before doing a fraudulent SIM swop. Mobile Number Portability (MNP) gives mobile phone users the ability to move to another mobile network and still retain their mobile number (MSISDN). In this instance the victim’s SIM card is deactivated with the criminal receiving communication on the new SIM card issued by the second mobile network operator.
TIPS TO DO INTERNET BANKING SAFELY
Ensure that the device you use for internet or mobile device banking has the latest version of antivirus and antispyware software installed from reputable vendors. Robust solutions should identify malware and prompt you to delete it.
- Do not do your banking on a public or unfamiliar computers found at libraries, cyber- or internet cafes and hotels.
- Avoid using Wi-Fi hotspots, and ensure your own wireless network is encrypted before performing any banking transactions on your private computer. Prevent illegal software from being downloaded on your computer by creating administrative rights.
- Be suspicious if you receive lots of spam email or SMS messages. It could indicate that your computer or cellphone has been infected.
- Beware of fake anti-virus software that is offered at no charge, as it could contain malware.
- Do not use unknown devices, such as USB flash drives, on your system, as they may transfer malware unknowingly.
- Avoid downloading pirated software, as it may contain malware.
- Memorise your PIN and passwords, never write them down or share them, not even with a bank official.
- Make sure your PIN and passwords cannot be seen when you enter them.
- If you think your PIN and/or password has been compromised, change it immediately either online or at your nearest branch.
- Choose an unusual PIN and password that are hard to guess and change them often.
- For your security you only have three attempts to enter your PIN and password correctly before you are denied access to your services.
- Register for your Bank’s cellphone notification service and receive electronic messages relating to activities or transactions on your accounts as and when they occur.
- If reception on your cellphone is lost, immediately check what the problem could be, as you could have been a victim of an illegal Sim swop on your number. If confirmed, notify your bank immediately.
- Inform your Bank should your cellphone number changes so that your cellphone notification contact number is updated on the banking system.
- Regularly verify whether the details received from cellphone notifications are correct and according to the recent activity on your account. Should any detail appear suspicious immediately make contact with your Bank and report all log-on notification that are unknown to you.
- Ensure that you are on your Bank’s secure website and not on a ‘spoof’ site that looks like the real website.
- Log onto your Bank’s website by typing in the web address yourself instead of accessing via Google search as it might lead you to a spoofed site.
- Do not use web links that are saved under your favourites and never access your Bank’s website from a link in an email or SMS.
- Make sure that you are not on a spoof site by clicking on the security icon on your browser tool bar to see that the URL begins with https rather than http.
- Remember to log off immediately when you have finished banking.
- Never do Internet Banking in public areas such as Internet Cafés, as you never know what software is loaded that may compromise your transactions, PINs and passwords.
- Make sure that no one has unauthorised access to your PC.
- Be especially aware that there are no security cameras trained on your PC and keyboard.
- Make sure that the software loaded onto your PC is correctly licensed.
- Update your operating system and browser with the latest patches.
- Never open suspicious or unfamiliar e-mails or attachments as these often contain harmful programs.
- Never click on links or attachments within suspicious e-mails as harmful viruses, spyware & Trojans may infect your PC.
- Ensure that you have the latest anti-virus applications loaded on your PC. Most Banks provide this free of charge to their customers.
- Install a personal firewall on your PC.
- Being aware of using storage devices (such as memory sticks and portable hard drives), if you make use of them ensure that they are password protected.
- Do not send e-mails that contain personal information such as your card number and expiry date.
- Protect your computer by installing and regularly updating quality antivirus software.
- Install a spam blocker on your system. This will ensure that fraudsters find it difficult to send you phishing e-mails.
- Do not click on links in unsolicited emails and delete them immediately.
- Type in the URL for your bank in the internet browser if you need to access your bank’s webpage.
- Never click on a link to take you to your bank’s website.
- Keep your operating system and browser patches, anti-virus and anti-spy software up to date on your personal computer/laptop or cellphone as they include important security enhancements to help detect phishing sites and malware.
- Make sure that you are not on a spoof site by clicking on the security icon on your browser tool bar to ensure that the URL begins with https rather than http. If you think that you might have compromised yourself, report it to your bank immediately.
- Should you realise that you have responded to a phishing mail, change your internet banking credentials immediately and advise your bank.
- Register for SMS notifications so that you can be alerted to any money moving from your bank account, real time.
With cheques still a preferred method of payment by some bank customers, cheque fraud remains a popular method for criminals to gain financial advantage from unsuspecting victims, especially small to medium size businesses.
PREVALENT MODUS OPERANDI
In addition to the popular cheque fraud modus operandi of washing cheques and reissuing them, cheques are also used in deposit and refunds scams for which awareness was created in Q3.
Criminals steal genuinely issued cheques mostly in the post and then dip them into chemicals that will remove the writing on the cheque. They are careful to retain the original signature. Once washed, they will complete the cheque again in favour of a payee of their choice and in the amount of their choice. This cheque is then utilised to pay for goods or services or it is a very good forgery, deposited into an account from which the funds are withdrawn again immediately.
Criminals also steal blank cheques and forge the drawer’s signature in order to make payment to third parties. Cheque books can be stolen in home or business robberies or be collected fraudulently from the bank using forged letters of authority and false identity documents.
TIPS TO USE CHEQUES SAFELY
- Check the payee, amount in words and figures carefully for alterations.
- Be on the lookout for stamps that are placed over areas that could conceal alterations.
- Cheques issued in black Koki pens should raise suspicion.
- Spelling mistakes on the printed areas of the cheques such as the drawer’s details and the Bank Branch name.
- Tampering on the MICR Code line – black shaded areas is a red flag.
- Be suspicious if the cheque appears faded, as chemicals could have been used to remove information
- Shaky signatures could indicate that the signature was traced.
- Write your cheque in such a way that it is difficult to alter by drawing lines through unused spaces.
- Write clearly and neatly using a non-erasable ballpoint pen.
- Write the full names of the payee and spell them correctly. Avoid the use of abbreviations.
- Do not make any corrections to the cheque as alterations in any form will not be allowed on the cheque except for where the words “bearer/order” has been ruled through. It is best to cancel it and write out another one.
- Don’t leave large spaces between words and draw a line through any unused space to ensure that nothing can be added to the cheque.
- Write the amount of the cheque in the space immediately after ‘The sum of’.
- Write the amount in figures as close to the ‘R’ as possible.
- Fill in the correct date.
- Remember to sign your cheque
- Keep your chequebook, cancelled cheques and statements safe.
- Never sign a blank cheque.
- Report lost or stolen cheques immediately.
- Provide your Bank with up-to-date signatures of everyone who is entitled to sign cheques on your account.
- Check your statements every month and do reconciliation.
- It is safest to collect your new cheque book yourself.
- A "cash" cheque is as good as money so it is not your safest option.
- Cheques where the words ‘Or Bearer’ are not crossed out are as good as cash and can be cashed by anyone who presents it (even if it was made out to a person or company). If you do not want the cheque to be negotiated between various parties you can restrict negotiation by adding the words “Not Transferable”. This in effect means that the cheque may only be negotiated by the person/company whose name appears on the beneficiary field.
- When a cheque is made out to a person or company and ‘Or Bearer’ is crossed out, it is safer. However, the original payee can still sign the back of the cheque and make it over to a third party.
- Two lines with or without the words ‘non-negotiable’ or ‘non-transferable’ written between them means the cheque cannot be cashed but has to be deposited into a bank account.
- A crossing cannot be cancelled.
- ‘Non-transferable’ means it must be paid into the account of the person or company whose name appears on the cheque.
- ‘Non-negotiable’ means it must be paid into a bank account but the person to whom the cheque was originally made out to may transfer it to a third party.
- According to the Bill of Exchange Act section 81(3) the words “Not Negotiable” give the drawer/issuer more protection with regard to obtaining information relating to the deposit of such cheque.
- It is not advisable posting a cheque.
- If you must send it via post make sure cheques are crossed, marked non-transferable’ and made payable to a specific person or company.
- Send cheques by registered mail and in good time to allow for delivery delays.
- Staples or paperclips attaching a cheque to a letter in an envelope are all tell-tale signs for criminals.
- Avoid envelopes that are transparent or easy to open.
- When accepting a cheque make sure that:
- It has not been altered.
- It isn’t post-dated.
- It is signed.
- There are no dirty marks on it
- The same pen has been used throughout.
- The handwriting is the same on all parts of the cheque.
- Be cautious when you notice the following on a cheque that is provided to pay for goods:
- Several stamps that are placed over areas that could conceal alterations.
- Black Koki used to complete the cheque.
- Spelling mistakes on the printed areas such as the drawer’s details and the Bank Branch name
- Tampering on the MICR Code line – black shaded areas.
- Faded areas, as chemicals could have been used to remove information.
- Shaky signatures, which could indicate that the signature was traced.
- Typed or pre-issued cheques.
Most bank customers have at least one bank card and several have multiple given the convenience of card payments. Cards can be used both locally and internationally for cash withdrawals, payment for goods and services as well as for online purchases.
PREVALENT MODUS OPERANDI
Whilst there are numerous card fraud modus operandi, this campaign seeks to highlight the following 3 being the most prevalent:
Stolen Card fraud
Criminals steal genuine bank cards together with the correct PIN numbers. These cards are then used immediately at the nearest ATM to withdraw cash followed by purchases at stores until the account is empty or the card is stopped because the victim reported the theft.
Counterfeit card fraud
A counterfeit cardis a card that is “manufactured” fraudulently and not genuinely issued by a bank. Criminals manufacture counterfeit cards using compromised card data. Generally stolen bank or other cards with magnetic strips on them, are encoded with the compromised card data. In some stances, cards are manufactured from scratch including forgery of the branding alternatively white plastic is used to encode the compromised data onto.
The card data is mostly compromised through skimming. Criminals use skimming devices to read and store the data on the magnetic strip of a genuinely issued bank card. For a card to be skimmed, it has to be pulled through or inserted into the skimming device. Hand held skimming devices are small and can easily be concealed. ATM skimming devices are fixed onto the machine and are quite difficult to spot. Compromised POS devices are also used to skim cards. A software program is then used to transfer the compromised card data onto the counterfeit card.
If the counterfeit card will be used at an ATM, the correct PIN number is also needed. PIN numbers are mostly stolen through shoulder surfing.
Card Not Present (CNP) Fraud
The data necessary to perpetrate CNP fraud is compromised in various ways ranging from the physical theft of data off a genuine card (low tech) to large scale data breaches (high tech). Whilst bank clients are not able to directly mitigate the risk of high tech data breaches, they can contribute significantly to migrate the risk of low tech modus operandi by following the tips.
Criminals will memorize or write down the card number, expiry date and CVV2/CVC2 (three digits at the back of the bank card) without the knowledge of the bank client when card is handed over for payment. With this information, the criminal is able to transact fraudulently on the internet or phone as if it is the genuine card holder.
Criminals will also steal records at merchants where copies of the front and back of bank cards are kept or such details are recorded on documents.
Criminals are also known to ask for card numbers, expiry dates and CVV/CVS numbers in phishing emails. Malware is further utilized to search for card related information and to send it to a destination under control of the criminal.
TIPS FOR CARD HOLDERS:
- Review your account statements on a regular and timely basis; query disputed transactions with your Bank immediately.
- When shopping online, only place orders with your card on a 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.
- Never write down your PIN or disclose it to anyone.
- Report lost and stolen cards immediately.
- Destroy your credit card receipts before discarding them.
- Never let your card out of your sight when making payments.
- Sign your card on the back signature panel as soon as you receive it to stop anyone else from taking ownership or trying to use it.
- Don’t allow anyone to use your card, your credit / debit card is not transferable. Only the person to whom the card was issued is only person authorised to use it.
- If you have a debit, cheque and credit card, don’t choose the same PIN for all of them, so that if your PIN is compromised on one card, the others will still be safe.
- Protect your cards as if they were cash. Never let them out of your sight and ensure that you get them back after every purchase.
- Always check transaction slips for correct purchase amounts before you sign them.
- Keep your transaction slips and check them against your statement to spot any suspicious transactions and query them immediately.
- Make a list of all your cards and their numbers and store it in a safe place.
- 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 an ATM retain your card, contact your Bank and block your card before you leave the ATM.
- Subscribe to your Bank's SMS notification services; this will inform you of any transactional activity on your account.
- Hold the card until the transaction is completed. Ensure that all card security features are present.
- Compare the cardholder’s signature on the card to that on the sales voucher.
- Phone for authorisation if requested to do so by the point of sale device. Make an imprint of the card in the case of a manual transaction.
ATMS - AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINES
The ATM is one of the Banks most convenient ways of banking for clients. This innovative service mechanism provides bank customers with the ability to conduct their banking 24 hours a day at any ATM nationally.
Since the launch of the first two ATMs in South Africa in 1977, ATMs have become a more common and permanent feature of our everyday banking. Banks and independent ATM services providers are expanding the network of ATMs throughout the country to broaden access to banking services for all citizens.
PREVALENT MODUS OPERANDI
The increased usage of ATMs has also resulted in criminals devising various scams such as card skimming, swopping of cards, ATM shoulder surfing and the trapping of cards inside ATMs (with the ‘Lebanese’ loop) to steal card data or actual cards. These cards are then utilized to withdraw money fraudulently, at ATMs and to make purchases in close proximity.
SKIMMING AT AN ATM:
Unsuspecting victims are coerced into swiping their cards through hand held devices at ATM’s. The following permutations of this scenario have been identified:
- A person claiming to be working for the bank approached the client. Using various social engineering skills, the client is requested to re-activate the card by swiping the card through a device which is a skimming device. This can happen prior or after the client has already withdrawn money from the ATM. Often there would be a second or even third person loitering around the ATM, shoulder surfing for the PIN the moment the client uses the ATM.
- In some cases the ATM’s card reader entry slot is damaged. While the victim struggles to insert their card, the criminal will approach the victim and take the ATM card from the victim, often escorting the victim to another ATM to attempt the withdrawal. Whilst on the way to the second ATM, the criminal handles the card and it is skimmed. What makes this scenario so alarming is that the victim is handed back the original card and only discovers at a much later stage that money was withdrawn from the account.
- Scenarios also occurred where the hand held card reader was temporarily attached to the ATM together with a leaflet requesting the unsuspecting bank clients to swipe their cards prior or after making use of the ATM facility.
ATM MOUNTED SKIMMING:
The skimming device is mounted over the throat of the ATM. Most ATM skimming devices do not interfere with the ATM when utilized. These devices are created to look like the card reader slot and fit well over the slot. The false reader in the skimming device acquires the magnetic strip data and the PIN is compromised by means of spy camera installed within the mould containing the skimming device.
This is a technique used by criminals to trap a bank card inside the ATM by inserting a thin film of plastic into the ATM card slot. The plastic is rigged in such a way that both the plastic and trapped card can later be removed. The victim transacts at the ATM, cash and receipt is provided but the card is trapped. The victim gains the impression that the card was retained by the ATM. The criminal is in close vicinity and has already shoulder surfed to get the victims PIN. Once the victim leaves ATM, the criminal goes back to ATM and removes the trapped card and uses to withdraw cash immediately.
Whilst conducting a card transaction at the ATM, the victim will be interfered with and the card swopped. This will usually happen after the victim has already inserted the necessary PIN to transact. A criminal would have shoulder surfed for the PIN already before the card swop is done. Usually criminals who do card swopping work in groups of about 3 perpetrators. Some will distract the victim whilst others attend to the actual swopping. The victim will leave the ATM with someone else’s card and not their own. As is in the case of card trapping with the Lebanese Loop, the card will be utilised immediately in order to maximise the reward before the victim realises what has transpired and arranges for the card to be stopped.
TIPS TO USE ATMS SAFELY
- If you think the ATM is faulty cancel the transaction IMMEDIATELY, report the fault to your Bank and transact at another ATM.
- Avoid ATMs that are dimly lit or surrounded by loiterers, and never allow your children to draw money using your card, since they're the most vulnerable to perpetrators.
- Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM to avoid opening your purse, bag or wallet while in the queue.
- Be cautious of strangers offering to help as they could be trying to distract you in order to get your card or PIN.
- Follow the instructions on the ATM screen carefully.
- ONLY punch in your PIN once prompted by the ATM.
- Report suspicious items or people around ATMs to the Bank.
- Choose familiar and well-lit ATMs where you are visible and safe. Report
- any concerns regarding the ATM to the Bank. Toll free numbers are displayed on all ATMs.
- Be alert to your surroundings. Do not use the ATM if there are loiterers or suspicious people in the vicinity. Also take note that fraudsters are often well dressed, well-spoken and respectable looking individuals.
- If you are disturbed or interfered with, whilst transacting at the ATM, your card may be skimmed, by being removed and replaced back into the ATM without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction immediately and report the incident using your Bank's Stop Card Toll free number which is displayed on all ATMs, as well as on the back of your Bank card.
- Should you have been disturbed whilst transacting, immediately change your PIN or stop the card, to protect yourself from any illegal transactions occurring on your account.
- Know what your ATM looks like so that you are able to identify any foreign objects attached to it.
- Do not ask anyone to assist you at the ATM, not even the security guarding the ATM or a Bank official. Rather go inside the Bank for help.
- Never force your card into the slot as it might have been tampered with.
- Do not insert your card if the screen layout is not familiar to you and looks like the machine has been tampered with.
- Don’t use ATMs where the card slot, keypad or screen has been tampered with. It could be an attempt to get hold of your card.
- Your PIN is your personal key to secure banking and it is crucial to keep it confidential.
- Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it with anyone, not even with your family member or a Bank official.
- Choose a PIN that will not be easily guessed. Do not use your date of birth as a PIN.
- Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it, and key it in personally in such a way that no one else can see it e.g. cover your PIN when punching the numbers even when alone at the ATM as some criminals may place secret cameras to observe your PIN.
- Don't let anyone stand too close to you in order to keep both your card and PIN safe.
- Some fraudsters wait until you’ve drawn your cash to take advantage. Be wary of people loitering around the ATM and ensure that you are not followed.
- Take your time to complete your transaction and secure your card and your cash in your wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving the ATM.
- Set a daily withdrawal limit that suits your needs (the default amount is set at R1000.00), to protect yourself in an event that your card and PIN are compromised.
- Check your balance regularly and report discrepancies to your Bank IMMEDIATELY.
- Avoid withdrawing cash to pay for goods/services as your Debit Card can be used for these transactions. You are able to use your Debit Card wherever the Maestro/Visa Electron logo is displayed.
- After you have completed your transaction successfully, leave the ATM area immediately. Be cautious of strangers requesting you to return to the ATM to finalise/close the transaction because they are unable to transact. Skimming may occur during this request.
Allowing proceeds of crime to be laundered through your Bank account, knowingly or unknowingly, is a criminal offence. Bank clients can be charged and convicted for money laundering and even receive a prison sentence.
PREVALENT MODUS OPERANDI
Criminals approach bank customers with requests to have funds paid into their accounts and often offer them a reward for the use of the account. Often the money that is paid into the account, is proceeds of another crime. The account holder can be charged with money laundering even if it was unknown at the time that the money was proceeds of crime.
An example of the above modus operandi is for the criminal to inform the account holder of the sale of a motor vehicle and that the buyer needs to pay into an account with a specific bank (same bank as the one that the victim banks with) so that the funds can be cleared quicker. Because the “seller” needs to the money urgently, the use of the victim’s account is requested and the victim will be rewarded for the favour. To most people, the explanation given seems to make sense and given the promised reward, they are likely to assist especially if the “seller” is known to them.
Criminals also approach people with valid identification documents and ask them to open accounts for them to transact on because they do not have the correct documentation to qualify for an account. Because foreign nationals experience such difficulties and people want to be neighbourly, many people have been tricked into opening accounts that are subsequently used by criminals to launder money.
TIPS TO SAFEGUARD YOURSELF
Safeguard yourself from being involved in a serious criminal offence by following these tips:
- Do not open a Bank account in your name on behalf of another person, irrespective of the circumstances
- Do not allow your account to be used by another person to deposit or transact on.
- If you suspect that the money you are being paid with is the proceeds of crime; immediately report this matter to the police.
FESTIVE SEASON SCAMS
Criminals hope to benefit from the large amounts of money that flow through bank accounts during the festive season by either stealing from the accounts or customers directly or tricking customers into scams that they benefit from.
PREVALENT MODUS OPERANDI
Criminals will place an advert for holiday accommodation at an affordable price on the internet. Victims will be requested to contact the advertiser via phone or e-mail. Once contacted, the criminal will provide attractive pictures/description of the venue and usually request a 50% deposit in order to secure the booking. Although it may all seem exciting to the victim, what they do not know is that the criminal has also collected deposits from other victims and will disappear with the deposits never to be heard from again. The booking is off course fictitious and in some instances, the accommodation won’t even exist at all.
Offers for bargains on the internet or in classified advertisements, are prevalent during the festive season but all of them are legitimate. Sometimes these advertisement will be for famous brand goods that are highly sought after during the festive season like iPhones or iPads at attractive prices. Again there will be no personal contact with the seller but payment will be demanded upfront. Once paid for, the goods are not delivered and the seller disappears.
Tips to prevent you from falling victim during the festive season.
- Request the advertiser for the details of the body corporate or management office to match the name of the advertiser with that of the owner of the property.
- If it’s a private person, ask for employment details and personal detail like an ID. If they are not legitimate, they will avoid any further communication.
- A criminal will rarely agree to meet and show you the property so difficulties to view the property must be seen as a red flag.
- Google Maps may assist in confirming that the property actually exists.
- Criminals usually choose free methods of advertising and place offers that usually seem too good to be true.
- Prices that are far below that of the major retail chain stores, should be treated with great caution.