Watch out for festive season scams

Bank customers should be aware of bank-related scams to avoid falling victim to them, the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said on Tuesday.

“We want to warn customers to be vigilant during the festive season, especially around scams that promise you huge returns with minimal effort,” chief executive Kalyani Pillay said in a statement.

These included “advance fee scams”, where the victim receives an sms or e-mail informing them that they have won a prize and urging them to contact someone in order to claim it.

However, the fraudster would try to convince the victim that they need to pay a fee in order to claim the prize.

The public was also warned of deposit and refund scams, where criminals ordered goods or services from a company or person then deposited money — or frequently a fraudulent cheque — as payment.

The criminals often send “proof of payment” for the release of the purchased item, or urgently request a refund.

When the bank processes the cheque, thus discovering it is invalid, or if it is discovered that no payment was made, the credit on the victim’s bank account is reversed.

As a result, no funds are transferred into the victim’s account and the victim is left with neither the money nor the goods.

Sabric advised the public to follow the maxim “If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is”.

“Fraudsters often use the names of reputable companies to try to con people into believing that their scams are legitimate,” Pillay said.

“Do not accept unsolicited communications at face value.”

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Watch out for festive season scams