The South African Post Office (Sapo) has warned customers of a scam doing the rounds where people are duped into handing over money to criminals.

“The SA Post Office warns members of the public to be on alert of a scam doing the rounds where customers are duped into depositing money into fraudulently opened Postbank accounts,” Sapo said in a statement on Monday.


This version of the so-called 419 scam is an offline social engineering trick where people receive a sealed package with a certificate claiming that a large deposit has been made into a Postbank account.

“The instruction in your delivery package states that to activate the Postbank account opened for you in order to claim your winnings, you need to pay a certain amount of cash into another account. This is when you are conned because you will be seeing the last of the money that you would have deposited into that other account,” Sapo said.

The state-owned entity advised the public to ignore such packages, and insisted that it would not open accounts on behalf of people and request an “activation fee”.

Fraud on the increase as many fall for fake emails

Multiple surveys have demonstrated that criminals are employing social engineering skills to con people out of money.

Financial crime via online channels has proved lucrative because many people believe the emails and social media messages sent to them.

According to South African Banking Risk Information Centre, credit card fraud decreased by 28.6% from R353.3m in 2014 to R252.2m in 2015.

However, Card Not Present fraud rose by 12.6% to account for 75% of losses relating to South African-issued credit cards.

The US FBI found that fraudsters stole $2.3bn from 17 642 businesses in 79 countries by posing as company executives and tricking junior employees into transferring cash.

Sapo advised consumers to be suspicious of any communication indicating that they have been awarded a large sum of money.

“You should know that you are probably being scammed in any situation where you are required to pay an amount of money upfront, either as an admin fee or for any other reasons, to access large sums of money,” the organisation added.

Sapo is working on law enforcement to trace the perpetrators.

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