Online fraud scams you need to know

South Africa has recorded a steady increase in online financial fraud over the years. While many banks and financial institutions have taken the initiative to educate clients and the general public on possible threats, the industry has still continued to record high numbers of victims. Here are some new and potential threats you need to know.


Phishing refers to any attack by which fraudsters impersonate a legitimate company or e-commerce site and attempt to steal people’s personal information or login credentials. Once on the website, which generally looks and feels much like the valid eCommerce/banking site, you are instructed to login to your account and enter sensitive financial information such as the bank PIN. This information is then used to engage in credit card and bank fraud – or outright identity theft.

Greeting card scams

Greeting card scams are designed to look like its from a friend or family member in an email format. Once the unsuspecting receiver clicks the link to view the card, it usually leads to a booby-trapped web page that downloads Trojans and other malicious software onto the systems of the targeted victim.

Cold calling technical support scam

With this scam, fraudsters call an unsuspecting victim, claiming they are from a reputable computer or software company and that they need the victim to “sort out a problem” with their PC. The scammer then guides the victim through a process to fix the so-called “issue” and as a result allows him remote access to the targeted PC. With the remote access, the scammer loads malware and harvests the victim’s banking and financial details.


Typosquatting, also known as URL hijacking, is a form of cybersquatting (sitting on sites under someone else’s brand or copyright) that targets Internet users who incorrectly type a website address into their web browser (e.g., “” instead of “”). When users make such a typographical error, they may be led to an alternative website owned by a hacker that is usually designed for malicious purposes. In order to protect yourself, you must pay close attention to the spelling of web addresses or websites that look trustworthy but may actually be close imitations of the online retailer you are looking for.

Fake software updates

Fake software updates quite often masquerade as Adobe Flash Player installers but there are others including Microsoft Office updates. It’s important to know how to tell what’s legit and what’s not. As with fake antiviruses, these software updates can compromise your computer, allowing cybercriminals to access all your data.

The threats listed above are worth understanding and looking out for in order to avoid being a victim.

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