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Black November: a fertile breeding ground for cybercrime

Banking accounts are one of the most targeted platforms when a consumer falls victim to cybercrime and due to the growing popularity of e-commerce, the Ombudsman for Banking Service (OBS), Reana Steyn, has seen an increase of 31.34% in internet banking fraud related cases in 2021.
Source: ©Mikko Lemola
Source: ©Mikko Lemola 123rf

"The majority of the people who fall victim to internet banking fraud are those who clicked on unsolicited links which they believed were from their banks,” she says.

“Phishing emails are becoming a common way to scam victims. “Only after the fraud is committed, do they discover that the link that they clicked on was fraudulent,” says Steyn.

Other unsuspecting victims were vished into giving away this sensitive information over the phone as they believed that the person that called them was from the bank.

“Only once the fraud has been committed does the consumer find out that they were being tricked into giving away personal information,” she says.

Fertile breeding ground for fraudsters

However, subject to final checks, there has been a decrease in ATM fraud (which dropped by 15.8%), and credit card related fraud complaints (which dropped by 13.28%) when compared with 2020.

Steyn cautions that the apparent decrease in card related fraud cases received by her office should not be seen as a decision by fraudsters to abandon this type of fraud.

She advises that events like Black November as well as the Festive season and holidays, have previously proven to be fertile breeding grounds for fraudsters to take advantage of consumers who let their guard down.

In 2020, online payment platform PayFast reported that as a result of Covid-19, there was a record increase of 50% in online transaction volumes during the 2020 Black Friday weekend when compared to the same period 2019.

3rd highest number of cybercrime victims

Interpol’s African Cyberthreat Assessment Report found that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting South Africa, which now has the third-highest number of cybercrime victims in the world. This costs about R2,2bn annually.

In the first quarter of this year, South Africa was also the worst affected on the continent in terms of targeted ransomware attacks, which can affect businesses and critical infrastructure.

According to the October 2021 Interpol report, there is a “critical absence of cybersecurity protocol, cyber-resilience as well as mitigation and prevention measures for individuals and businesses” in Africa.

“This new wave of crime can have a serious impact on consumers who are eager to do Black Friday shopping,” says Steyn.

Black Friday shopping risks

Black Friday and Cyber Monday take place on November 26 and 29.

“While it may be considered the perfect time for shoppers to take advantage of these discounts, the dangers of falling victim to the various scams out there is heightened and can unfortunately not be divorced from these Black November offers,” Steyn cautioned.

The OBS urges shoppers to be on the lookout for suspicious activities and/or transactions on their accounts as there is an expectation of higher volumes of phishing, vishing and ATM scams.

Additionally, consumers should regularly go through their account statements to identify and immediately report any suspicious entries that they flag as suspicious.

“Desktop research conducted by the OBS has shown that social media platforms, online marketplaces and unsecure websites are being used by criminals to execute a scam where an unsuspecting customer is tricked into paying in advance for goods or services that they will never receive,” says Steyn.

“If not identified as scams, these deals will result in consumers suffering devastating financial losses,” she says.

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