FNB warns of new ‘remote’ scams targeting customers in South Africa

 ·19 Feb 2022

FNB is warning consumers of ‘remote access’ scams currently targeting its customers in South Africa, tricking them into compromising the security of their information and financial credentials.

Giuseppe Virgillito, FNB head of digital banking, says, the modus operandi targets unsuspecting users, particularly seniors, by coercing them to automatically download remote software onto their devices under the pretence that it is a ‘security app’ they are installing for their protection.

In some instances, the remote access requests may be obtained via a phone call or SMS that is designed to cause panic by offering you help to stop fraudulent transactions on your bank account.

The success of this fraud requires cooperation from the user to install a remote access app, and sadly, some consumers fall for these tricks and end up compromising credentials, he said.

FNB said that a reputable financial institution will never ask for the following:

  • Ask for remote access to your device.
  • Ask you to verbally confirm your PIN and passwords for your devices.
  • Ask you to share your banking credentials such as Card & CVV number, PINS, OTPS, passwords and usernames
  • Move money between accounts for safekeeping.

“Our utmost priority is to protect our customers and empower them to protect themselves. We monitor such scams 24/7 and have made it our responsibility to educate our customers as well as warn the public. The prevention of fraudulent activities such as remote access, phishing, vishing, and many more, requires financial institutions and consumers to work together,” he said.

“People can learn about the most recent fraud scams and how to avoid them through our trusted digital platform under the Security Centre tab.”

Scams on the rise 

Cybersecurity company Kaspersky’s latest annual Spam and Phishing report meanwhile, details the ways cyber-fraudsters have tried to lure users over the last year.

“Cyber-fraudsters involved in the creation and distribution of spam and phishing tried to lure users using topics focused on lucrative investments, online streaming of global movie or TV premiers and themes related to restriction requirements and benefits of the ongoing pandemic,” the group said.

“Spam is a type of malicious activity that involves massive or targeted email distributions. The goal of the fraudsters behind the schemes is to promote various products and services amount internet users and to lure the target to either engage in a dialogue, click a malicious link or open a malicious file attachment,” said Kaspersky.

“Phishing often takes the form of a spam email paired with a malicious copy of a legitimate website. These copies collect private user data or encourage money transfer to fraudsters.”

Some of the most common scams used to lure South Africans include:

Compensation as a result of the pandemic

Kaspersky reported that two dominant methods of scamming using the topic of the pandemic were most popular.

In the first instance, users were “informed” that they were granted compensation from their government’s pandemic-related support program, but to get the compensation, they would need to pay a transaction fee,” said Kaspersky.

As a result, the scammers got hold of users’ bank details and money.

Corporations were also targeted. In this scenario, the email would inform an employee of a targeted organisation and say that they are subject to specific pandemic compensation. The employee was then asked to confirm the corporate account on a specific web page for the corporation to receive the compensation.

Fake vaccine certificates

“The second way the topic of the pandemic was used to perpetuate scams was through the sale of vaccination certificates,” said Kaspersky.

Victims were offered a vaccination certificate, which would allow them access to public spaces and travel without having to go through the vaccination procedure.

“Because it is illegal to get a vaccination certificate without having a vaccine, it was highly unlikely that the victim of such a scam would report the issue,” said Kaspersky.

World movie premieres

Kaspersky said that criminals also offer early access to a recently premiered blockbuster film streaming.

Users are shown a trailer or introduction video, after which they are requested to enter payment details to continue watching.

“This scheme remained popular in 2021; scams of this theme accompanied almost every big movie, TV series or big sporting broadcast,” said Kaspersky.

Investments in cryptocurrencies or stocks

Kaspersky’s report provides that scammers offer “100% safe” investment opportunities; while in reality, these offers serve to make victims transfer money into the fraudsters’ accounts.

It stressed that these topics have continued to be the “bread and butter” for scammers because they are very efficient, and people trust too much of what they see in their inboxes.

Read: Beware these Valentine’s Day scams in South Africa

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