MORE than 280 Nelson Mandela Bay residents have been the victims of fraud scams worth about R4-million in the last year.
While the number of cases reported has stabilised in recent months, police have warned computer users not to open e-mails from supposed banking institutions and to be cautious when using credit or debit card facilities.
Since June last year, 80 Nelson Mandela Bay residents have been conned out of R2.8-million in various internet phishing scams, 39 of them in the last month.
In addition to this, 201 residents have reported card cloning totalling about R1.4-million – 117 between June and December last year and 84 in the last six months.
Nelson Mandela Bay’s Commercial Crimes Branch – which has teams dedicated to this type of crime – said internet scams and card skimming were rife, even though there was not a visible increase in victims.
Police spokesman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said the scams and tactics used by criminals often changed when culprits realised users became aware of their modus operandi.
"I can confirm that there has not been an increase in phishing scams or card cloning but it appears to be more consistent. With internet scams it appears there are no specific targets.
"They merely send out bulk e-mails hoping that someone will click on the link and supply passwords and other information,” she said.
"Most e-mails use enticing phrases such as ‘your password will be changed if you do not click on the link’ or ‘click here to stop a random debit order from going off’.”
Janse van Rensburg said no bank would send an e-mail asking for verification of bank details.
Card fraud was more rife and involved criminals stealing the users’ bank pins and the cloning of bank cards.
"The most common method is for the thieves to replicate the face of the ATM and place a recording and cloning device in the machine.
"This machine then steals all the details and clones the card at the same time.”
Another common method was for the thieves to clone a card onto a small device by swiping the card.
"Once the card has been swiped it can be printed into a bank card format and then used at various ATMs to draw money from the victim’s account.”
On Monday, six men were arrested in connection with credit card fraud running into millions.
They were found to be in possession of 200 credit cards and cash cheques worth R1.3-million.
The arrest forms part of a joint operation between the Hawks and fraud divisions of banks.
How to make sure you do not become a victim
- NEVER let a card out of your sight when making payments;
- Report any suspicious behaviour by the person to whom you have handed your card when making payments immediately to your bank;
- Never use an ATM that is tampered with or visibly damaged; this may be a ploy to force you to use another ATM on which a device may be mounted;
- Report any foreign objects on ATMs or suspicious people loitering around ATMs to your bank immediately;
- When shopping online, only place orders with your card on a secure website;
- Do not send e-mails that quote your card number, expiry date or any card details;
- Report any irregularities on your bank statements;
- Never respond to e-mails appearing to be from your bank that request personal details;
- Never follow a link on a mail to access your bank’s webpage. Always access the webpage by physically typing the name of the web address that you were given when you signed up for Internet Banking in your browser and confirm that you are on a secure site by looking for the little "lock” icon on your browser before logging on;
- Never provide your online ID, password or pin to anyone, write them down or share them – not even with a bank official;
- Change your pin and passwords frequently;
- Place sensible transaction limits on your accounts.
- Ensure you have the latest anti-virus software applications loaded on your computer and make sure you download all security patches for your operating system promptly.