Cameroonian online scams in South Africa are a growing threat – Expert

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Online scams may sound like old news to tech-savvy South Africans, but criminals continue to exploit people who come online – often resulting in large financial losses.

Artists Against 419’s Derek Smythe told MyBroadband that people are falling victim to scams daily – including phishing attacks.

Smythe said certain scams are also highly sophisticated, fooling experts in certain cases, and that “Cameroonian scams and other bespoke South African evolved scams” are proving to be a threat.

“Cameroonian scammers have been selling pets, trailers, cars, containers, even hay from last year,” he said.

“Make no mistake, these guys are experts. They are master forgers, never supply real details, and are quick to abuse systems.”

Smythe said Cameroonian scams are diverse, and many of them either target South Africans or emanate from the country. These include:

  • Pet scams
  • Vehicle scams
  • Certificate, visa, passport, driver’s licence scams
  • Loan scams
  • Job scams
  • SSD solution for cleaning black money
  • Commodity scams
  • Adoption scams

Countries of origin

Another scam proving popular in 2017 is the romance scam, which is “ill understood”, said Smythe.

Online dating scams made headlines in South Africa recently when men in Pretoria were robbed after meeting up with women from dating websites.

Police said criminals use women to pose as prostitutes or as people looking for lovers on dating sites. Victims are then asked to meet at a certain location, where they are robbed.

“Locally, also at the top of the list is the tender scam – evolved from the mining supplies scam.”

“Business email compromise is also a big problem. In reality, this is just an evolution of generic consumer-facing scams – much neglected and ill understood, now evolved to a business level,” he said.

Other scams which are growing include cryptocurrency scams, with the main points of origin appearing to be West Africa and the Philippines.

Smythe said many African countries – such as Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Kenya, and South Africa – play host to perpetrators of online scams, including the infamous 419 scam.

Report scams

Smythe said those affected by or who suspect a scam must report the matter to the South African Cyber Security Hub.

“If anybody has become a victim of one of these scams, do not delete text messages, call logs, or emails. This is the exact evidence needed,” he said.

“Report it to your nearest SAPS police station immediately. Once you have done this, report it to the Cyber Security Hub, including your case number, then also to IC3.”

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