Before you get lured in by promises of big discounts and amazing sales, be aware that fraudsters use social media to get your personal information or to defraud you. Photo: iStock
This week is Anti-Fraud Awareness Week (November 13-19) and the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) is warning people about the risk of social media fraud.
Before you get lured in by promises of big discounts and amazing sales, be aware that fraudsters use social media to get your personal information or to defraud you.
Says Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of SAFPS:
It is important to know how these scams are carried out and what some of the red flags of these situations might be, so that people can take care of them before they become victims.
Van Schalkwyk says the most common tactic used by fraudsters is social engineering. Most social media users are aware of targeted advertising, where ads for the products they search for online are packaged and presented to them on their timeline. But not all these links are genuine.
Fraudsters are using targeted advertising to lure consumers to a proxy site where all their personal information is provided.
From there, fraudsters can easily assume the identity of the consumer and use this identity to commit fraud.
Phishing has always been a major crime in South Africa, with fraudsters taking out their victims through phishing, smishing and vishing.
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Van Schalkwyk says:
Phishing is up 264% in the first five months of the year, compared to 2021, and could be linked to recent major data breaches. The various data breaches have highlighted the vulnerability of personal information and the easy access they are to the motivated criminal.
Earlier this year, the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman’s (CGSO) annual report highlighted the extent to which consumers are defrauded by online operators.
A quarter of all complaints to the CGSO relate to e-commerce in cases where consumers have paid for products advertised online but never received them.
While some were service issues from legitimate providers, the vast majority were for rogue operators who were running a scam.
According to the Ombudsman, Magauta Mphahlele, the main products involved were clothing, electronics and hair extensions offered through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.