Consumers should be aware of 419 scams

Staff reporter

So-called 419 scams, targeting the most vulnerable and poor, are, according to Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS), on the rise. Recent research found that fraud was at an all-time high with almost a quarter of digital banking users falling victim to scams, the most prevalent of which were advanced fee loans, pre-qualified loans or credit card scams. Many people are still unaware of the risks these scams pose and, as our economy shrinks and unemployment surges, desperation makes people easy targets.

Tragically these scams seem to target people who already have money problems or impaired credit ratings, drawing them in with the promise of large sums of cash in exchange for a relatively small upfront fee.

SAFPS apparently receives hundreds of calls from the victims of advanced fee scams, many who have lost large sums of money and are desperate for help. Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of SAFPS, explains, “Once a consumer has handed their money over to these criminals, there is really nothing we can do, which is why it’s so important that consumers know how to identify and avoid scams before they become victims.” According to him, not only are the fraudsters after your money, but try to obtain as much of personal information to hack your identity and open new credit cards in your name.

Scammers often pose as well-known  credit providers promising generous loans with extremely low interest rates, even to blacklisted consumers. Under the National Credit Act, no credit provider is allowed to ask for upfront fees, so these scams should be easy to spot.