Phishing – Internet Scams

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It’s the season to be scammed. Everybody knows that around this time of year crooks are on the prowl searching for unsuspecting victims. No, they are not wearing balaclavas and waiting in some dark alley ready to pounce, they’ve become more high-tech.

Everyone uses internet and cell phone banking, because let’s face it-it’s much easier to click on a button than to stand in those never-ending queues. Since banking has become quick and efficient, so too have criminals. Phishing scams are by no means a new concept but Phishers (as they are called) have become more sophisticated implementing legitimate looking emails from financial institutions. This is called email spoofing.

absa scam

An example of a fake Absa Bank Phishing website

Almost half of these scams were committed by groups operating through the Russian Business Network based in St Petersburg. These Phishing scams attempt to acquire personal information such as: usernames, passwords, I.D number and pin numbers. After receiving one of these emails they trick you with the threat of your account being closed if you don’t react immediately. By clicking on this email one will be led to a website that resembles that of the financial institution lulling you into a false sense of security. After obtaining your personal information the fraudsters will start accessing your account.

According to, common phrases used in Phishing scams are: “please verify your account”; “you have just won the lottery” and “if you don’t respond immediately your account will be closed”. Even after visiting one of these phishing sites these ‘scammers ‘use JavaScript commands to change your address bar. Flaws in legitimate sites own scripts can be used against the consumer also known cross-site scripting. They direct the consumer to log into their bank’s own web page where everything appears correct making these attacks harder to detect. Social networking sites have also become targets of cybercriminals by obtaining your personal information and using it for identity theft.

absa bank charges scam

An example of a Phishing Email - Note the URL address

Protect yourself as per

How to recognize scams

• Alarmist messages and threats of account closures.
• Promises of money for little or no effort.
• Deals that sound too good to be true.
• Requests to donate to a charitable organization after a disaster that has been in the news.
• Bad grammar and misspellings.

What to do if you think you have been a victim of a scam

• Change the passwords or PINs on all your online accounts that you think might be compromised.
• Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Check with your bank or financial advisor if you’re not sure how to do this.
• Contact the bank or the online merchant directly. Do not follow the link in the fraudulent email message.
• If you know of any accounts that were accessed or opened fraudulently, close those accounts.
• Routinely review your bank and credit card statements monthly for unexplained charges or inquiries that you didn’t initiate.

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About The Author

Crucinda studied Journalism at Varsity College and graduated top of her class in 2009. Her interests include: Photography, Sport (especially Rugby) and movies.

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