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‘Send Money Now’ and Other Red Flags

By Ayanda Ndimande, 28 February 2022

Netflix’s latest crime documentary, The Tinder Swindler, has the global public captivated and enraged on behalf of the victims. How did Cecille fall for his scam? How is he not behind bars yet?

While private jets, spur-of-the-moment international trips, and threats by ‘enemies’ don’t feature in the majority of scams, Simon Leviev’s antics remind us of some of the common red flags to look out for.

Scams in South Africa are on the rise – a recent study by credit rating agency, TransUnion, shows that 37% of local consumers were recently targeted by COVID-19-related digital fraud. To help educate South Africans on what to look out for, Ayanda Ndimande, Head of Sanlam Business Development for Retail Credit shares some of the most common red flags.

Match Made in Heaven? Think Again.

Out of the blue, Cecille matches with Simon on Tinder and, after a quick coffee date, he’s whisking her away on a private jet. Have you ever been walking through the mall and had someone come up to you and offer you money? No? Of course not. The digital world is like the analogue one in that it is very rare that someone would just come up to you and make you a generous offer like this. Scepticism costs nothing and could save you a great deal.

‘Send Me Your Passport Details’

Scammers love knowing everything about you, so asking for your passport details on the first date should’ve been a massive red flag. From your ID or passport number and physical address to your bank statements, they will try to glean as much personal information as they can from you. Be very wary about giving your details to anybody.

Too Good to Be True

Simon’s victims were looking for love, and a lavish lifestyle, so a single billionaire was an enticing hook. In the same way, it is very tempting to think that you may be the luckiest person in the world, but if an offer of a R500,000 loan at 2% interest finds itself in your inbox, then it’s almost certainly too good to be true.

‘Send Money Now’

The more time you mull things over, the less likely you are to be conned. Internet villains like Simon knows this and so their schemes often come with a time crunch. Don’t let yourself be pressurised into acting quickly.

While these tell-tale signs weren’t part of Simon Leviev’s con, make sure you are also on the lookout for the below.

Spelling Mistakes

When was the last time your bank sent you correspondence with spelling mistakes? Reputable companies hire people to make sure that doesn’t happen. Scammers, on the other hand, just hope that you don’t notice. It is also a good idea to check the email address. If it is from a Gmail account, Yahoo or any other free email service, then don’t click it.

Phishing/Vishing

Phishing is especially vicious, as it’s a scam correspondence framed like it’s from someone you know. For example, you might get an email from your boss, asking you to urgently send funds because there’s a problem with the company account. It looks legit, seems to come from an address almost exactly like your boss’s email address and is signed with your employer’s name. If you get any email asking for funds, immediately pick up the phone and call the right people to clarify that it comes from the company. It’s especially easy to fall for phishing and vishing (voice fishing for funds via platforms like WhatsApp).

Ndimande concludes “Internet fraud is rife and can have a devastating effect on your life, so you must be vigilant.”

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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