Firstly, what is the definition of fraud?
Fraud is defined in the dictionary as the “wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.”
This means that fraud usually involves a person, or group, usually intending to deceive others by claiming a certain identity, qualities, or a set of accomplishments.
Fraudulent acts usually involve a misrepresentation – where a false, untruthful, or misleading statement of something has been created to deceive. Fraudulent acts targeting a victim can result in that victim either losing access to funds, the ownership of an item or property, or suffering damage to their reputation or standing in society.
Financial fraud usually involves a number of different scams, where fraudsters will either try to impersonate (act as if they were) a legitimate company or service, or try to impersonate their victim and take actions on their behalf through what is called identity theft.
Identity theft is where fraudsters will try to obtain a victim’s personal information with the intent of taking actions on their behalf. Usually, this can involve trying to steal or move either personal information or money.
How do Advance Fee Scams (419 Scams) work?
One of the most common fraudulent activities is called an ‘Advance Fee Scam’, which is sometimes also called a ‘419 Scam’.
This form of scam usually begins with a fraudster trying to contact a victim with an attractive loan offer. This can usually involve a fraudster ‘creating’ a company which might not actually exist or impersonating a reputable lender such as Wonga.
Under an Advance Fee Scam, a fraudster will try to encourage their victim to sign up for a loan. If a victim falls for the scam, they will be asked to make an advance or up-front payment (usually called a deposit) for them to receive a full loan amount.
Fraudsters will usually try to make contact with their victims by a number of different means – such as by email, through a call, an SMS, or even via Facebook or WhatsApp.
However, should a victim make the deposit, the fraudster will usually stop all contact and the full loan amount that was advertised will never arrive. Usually, by the time a victim has become concerned, the fraudster in question will have either stopped responding to emails, calls, or SMSs, or will have cancelled their phone number or account altogether.
By learning to spot scams, you can keep your account and money secure. It’s important to remember that at Wonga, we only offer loans of up to R4000 for new customers, and R8000 for existing customers, which can be repaid up to 3 months. We don’t charge an upfront deposit, and we’ll never try to contact you directly through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or a phone call to offer you a loan.
If at any point you feel unsure, you can always contact our Fraud department on 0861-966-424 or [email protected].
What should I do if a scammer is contacting me?
If you have noticed fraudulent activity taking place or are uncertain if a credit provider that has contacted you is legitimate, you will want to confirm their identity and ensure that they are a registered Credit Provider in terms of the National Credit Act. A legitimate credit provider will have a contact centre that can assist you and answer any questions you may have.
Remember, if you are still feeling uncertain about dealing with a particular person or company, it is advisable not to make any further contact with them. They may be attempting to gain access to your personal accounts through phishing.
If you see someone impersonating a well-known brand, it’s advisable to contact that brand immediately – you might be able to stop someone else becoming a victim of fraud.
What steps should I take if I’ve been scammed?
If you feel you have been the victim of fraudulent activity or have made a deposit or payment and have not heard back from a loan or service provider, the first thing you should do is stop all contact with that party scammer and do not make any further payments.
If you are a victim of financial fraud or are a victim of a credit card scam or identity theft, contact your bank immediately to ensure that your accounts are secure. If you have lost access to funds in your account, you will need to notify your bank’s fraud department urgently.
Once you have done so, be sure to check your passwords for your computer, online services, and bank accounts in the event that you have noticed suspicious activity taking place. It can be a good idea to review your account history and change your password to something that is more secure.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you will need to check your Credit Bureau Profile to see if any loans, retail accounts or credit cards have been opened in your name without your consent.
If you see that a fraudster has taken out a loan or another form of credit on your behalf, you will need to contact that credit provider and advise them immediately.
Who should I report fraud to?
Should you receive a suspicious e-mail, you can report the e-mail to the Internet Service Provider from where the e-mail originated. For example, for Hotmail email addresses, you could contact [email protected], or for Yahoo, you could email [email protected].
In the event your identity document or drivers’ licence has been lost or stolen, you will need to report this to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and request an affidavit. You will need this to inform your bank and credit providers to prevent any money being transferred out of your account.
If you have lost either of these documents or have noticed suspicious activity using your personal information, you can approach the South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS), where you can create a protective registration for your identity. You can also contact the SAFPS on 0860 101 248 or through [email protected].
If you see a 419 Scam or an Advance Fee Scam, you can report this to [email protected].
Where can I learn more about fraud?
For further or more information regarding fraud and related activities you can also visit the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), where you can learn more about the latest banking scams.