Cape Town - Bank customers have been warned of a new SIM-swap
scam, with a major cellphone network asking its subscribers
to guard against “social engineering scams”.
The Weekend Argus is aware of two incidents in which
thousands of rands were fleeced from a bank client and
another in which a client nearly lost her pension.
The scale of the problem could be greater, as the South
African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said it was
aware the latest scam had occurred across banks.
However, it was reluctant to disclose details and referred
queries to the banks in question.
Sabric warned customers against phishing scams, which
involve fraudulent emails appearing to come from legitimate
Malcolm Talbot lost almost half of his savings in just a few
minutes after a fraudster made himself a beneficiary on his
Absa account and transferred the money without his
Talbot wouldn't reveal how much money had been involved, but
it is understood to be a six-figure amount.
Attempts to have Absa refund him the stolen funds were
Talbot has taken the matter to the ombudsman for banking
services. He said the scam happened in April.
Talbot doesn't know how he fell victim to the scam, as he
said he had not given his details to anyone.
“I wanted to make a call on the 29th of April which was a
Saturday and my phone was blocked," he said.
"I then called Vodacom, the network service provider with
whom I have a contract, and they told me that I had
requested a SIM swap, which I never did."
Having ensured that his number had been flagged with Vodacom,
Talbot went to an Absa ATM, only to discover that his bank
account had been blocked.
When he tried to withdraw money the next day, his savings
account had been emptied and the money transferred to his
cheque account, but some of it was missing.
Talbot phoned Absa’s fraud department to report the matter
and asked that his account be blocked.
He had been told that Absa was unable to refund him, despite
the fact that it had traced the bank account which had been
fraudulently created to siphon the money.
“They managed to get back only R5 800 of the money, but they
haven’t told me what action they will be taking against the
fraudster," Talbot said.
"They have washed their hands of me."
A 60-year-old woman, who identified herself to the Weekend
Argus only as Eudocia, said she almost fell victim to a
similar scam after receiving her pension payout. She had
worked as a teacher for 37 years.
Eudocia, a Vodacom and Absa client, said someone tried to do
a SIM swap using her cell number.
“They called me claiming to be from the service provider and
wanted to confirm some information, which did not include my
banking details," she said.
"The next thing my phone went dead. I immediately called the
service provider and they flagged the number."
No transaction had been completed on her bank account, but
she alerted Absa to the possible fraud as she suspected a
syndicate was behind the scam.
Absa told the Weekend Argus it was bound by client-banker
confidentiality not to publicly discuss the circumstances of
any of its affected customers.
The bank said that cyber-crime was an industry-wide issue
that could be minimised only through vigilance by banks,
cellphone providers and customers.
Vodacom said it was aware of the scam and that fraudsters
used “social engineering scams” to obtain information from
It said the majority of SIM swaps were legitimate, with an
estimated 0.004% involved in fraudulent banking activities.
The bank advised customers to safeguard their personal