New ‘money bomb’ scam targets South Africans at ATMs

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned against scams and other safety issues leading up to and during the festive season.

According to the group, robberies where criminals follow a victim after a withdrawal at an ATM or from the bank, remain rife, as criminals know that at this time of year people receive their Stokvel payouts and bonuses.

Bank clients are also still falling victim to fraud at ATMs where criminals interfere with them while they are carrying out a transaction.

Sabric urged banking clients not to accept assistance from anyone, even if they purport to be bank staff.

“Criminals are masters at social engineering and know just how to exploit human vulnerabilities to perpetuate crimes, particularly over the festive season where they tend to let their guard down.” said Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay.

In a scam known as ‘the Money Bomb’, a criminal drops a roll of paper covered in genuine bank notes near the victim after they have transacted at an ATM. The criminal then approaches the victim and suggests going to a remote location to share the “money”. At the remote location, the victim is robbed of the money they withdrew, often violently.

Digital platforms have also created social engineering opportunities for criminals to manipulate their victims into divulging their personal or confidential information, Pillay said.

“Clients are still compromised because of phishing, vishing or the installation of malware onto a victim’s device by having them click on a link, enabling the criminal to steal sufficient personal information to access their online banking profile. Sabric urges consumers not to click on links or icons in unsolicited emails or SMSes.”

Pillay said that Sabric has also seen an increase in the hacking of social media profiles, where a victim’s social media account is hijacked by hacking their account, or by creating a duplicate account using stolen personal information.

The criminal then contacts the victim’s friends and, posing as the victim, fabricates a tragic story, requesting money. The victim’s contacts then unknowingly transfer money to the criminal.

“We continue to stress that as a bank client, you are your money’s best protection, so take cognisance of our tips and empower yourself,” said Pillay.


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New ‘money bomb’ scam targets South Africans at ATMs