Bank fraudsters get F2F with the elderly - in their homes!

Bank fraudsters get F2F with the elderly - in their homes!

Consumerwatch’s Wendy Knowler warns about a new very direct method fraudsters are using to trick elderly folk into giving them access to their bank accounts.

Elderly care

Listen to the latest ECR Consumerwatch below, or read more about the topic today that Wendy's covering underneath the podcast.

The banks’ security systems have been improved to the point that fraudsters have had to resort to making direct contact with their victims and smooth talk them into giving them their bank details and passwords.

The common method is pretending to be from the fraud division of their target’s bank, “alerting them” to potential fraud on their accounts. 

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Genuine bank staffers do not call up their clients and ask them for personal bank details, passwords, and OTPs. If that happens, it’s always attempted fraud.

Recently, I discovered that fraudsters have taken this to the next level; posing as bank officials and visiting elderly folk in their homes, pretending to want to help them in some way. A few months ago, Mr and Mrs R, aged 92 and 88, respectively, received an unannounced visit from a “bank official” called Candice at their Durban home, with her young colleague in tow.

She claimed to be helping Nedbank’s elderly clients switch to digital banking, to spare them having to travel to a bank branch and stand in long queues to do their banking.

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Both were wearing Nedbank uniforms. 

They knew their victims’ names, their address, and the fact that one of their credit cards had expired. 

In all, they visited the couple three times.

Between them, Mr and Mrs R lost about R250,000 to the fraudsters.

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Here’s how...

According to their niece, who alerted me to this story, Mr R noticed after that first encounter with Candice, the real name of that 40-something fake Nedbank employee, his cellphone said “SIM missing”. 

So that’s how she got his OTPs and was able to empty his account of almost R194,000 - she put Mr R’s SIM into her phone.

Candice apparently told Mrs R that her new credit card was ready, and offered to accompany her to Nedbank’s Overport branch, because their usual branch, Musgrave, was offline, she claimed. 

Clearly she avoided that branch because the couple was well known by the staff there.

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Candice also “kindly” offered to draw money from the ATM for Mrs R, as she was battling to walk, and that’s how Mrs R surrendered her PIN to her.

Her account was emptied of R60,000 during the course of the next few weeks.

According to the niece, the fraudsters had to be working in collusion with genuine bank staffers, given all the personal information they had.

On that last point, that’s not necessarily the case, according to the Ombudsman for Banking Services, Reana Steyn.

“Any store with which you’ve ever had an account, every medical practice etcetera, will have a record of your bank account details, your ID number, and hence your age, and if they’ve seen your credit card, the expiry date.”

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On the plus side, Candice has since been arrested; Mr R immediately identified her in a line-up, and she appeared in a Durban regional court on fraud charges on November 19. 

“Her bail has been denied and she is still in custody,” a Nedbank spokesman told me. “As far as we know, there are still other cases [against her] in other police dockets, which the prosecuting authority may want to consider adding to the present charge sheet.”
The spokesman wasn’t able to say how many cases there are.

“We have been working closely with the SAPS to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book,” the spokesman said. “Our investigations failed to establish any indication of staff collusion.

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“According to the information at our disposal, the suspects would not arrive at the victim’s residence with any branded clothing, but often stated that they represented all the banks and only after obtaining information from the victims regarding where they did their banking, did the suspects then put on an item of clothing such as a jersey, scarf or jacket, of a colour associated with that particular bank.”

Please, talk to your elderly relatives and friends about this scam, and about the vishing calls.

Never let in any “bank official” that arrives unannounced at your home, and never divulge any banking details or OTPs to someone who phones you, claiming to be from your bank’s fraud division.

If you are worried, end the call, and phone your bank’s fraud department - ideally have the number pre-saved in your cellphone’s contacts list - to check if there was really a fraud alert on their account. 

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A massive box for a tiny eye pencil - WHY?

Last week, a colleague shared with me a photo of an eye pencil she’d ordered from Takealot, delivered to her in a ridiculously massive box, with packaging. This for a non-fragile item.

I recently ordered an item of clothing from Superbalist - part of the Takealot Group - and a pair of earrings, the two items arriving in two separate boxes.

Total packaging overkill, which doesn’t sit at all well with those of us with a keen interest in using precious resources sparingly. This is unsettling wastage. And alarming when you consider the scale of the issue. It makes you ashamed of having ordered online.

So I engaged Takelot about it.  Listen to the details in the podcast.

Contact Wendy

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

Listen to more podcasts from Wendy Knowler in the Consumerwatch channel below: 

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