#romancescams | Cybercrime cost to triple in South African due to Covid-19

The global pandemic of Covid-19 will continue to have a massive impact on cyberspace in South Africa, a cyber-crime analyst has said.

Lerato Mpobane from The Association of Private Security Owners of South Africa (TAPSOSA) said the damages caused by cyber-crime is poised to double amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Her warning has been bolstered by the Official Cyber-crime Report published by Cyber-security Ventures saying computer crimes will cost the world R110 trillion annually by 2021.

South Africa has the third-highest number of cyber-crime victims worldwide, and

Mpobane believes the country could yet lose more than the R2.2 billion lost in 2019 to Business Email Compromise (BEC) after noting a surge in cyber-crime during the lockdown.

She said cyber-criminals were devising scams to exploit the health pandemic. She attributes the sudden surge of computer crime to the Covid-19 global pandemic that forced millions of office workers to become remote workers in recent weeks. She believes the perpetrators are taking advantage of the fact that many people are relying on unsecured home networks.

Mpobane revealed the sharp surge was in carding, trick bots malware, romance scams, the infamous sextortion scams and account take over.

With BEC, the most common currently according to Mpobane, culprits thrive on illicitly gaining access to your email or registering a domain like yours and then communicating with your clients or suppliers as if they are you.

“Very often, they present a case of urgency where they urge unassuming recipients to make payments into “new” banking details or make deliveries of stock to new addresses,” she explained.

Mpobane said cyber-criminals were not just after big businesses or SMMEs, but they were targeting regular individuals that are duped into online romances. She urged people to be extra wary of any unusual communications.

“Many psychologists have suggested the imposed isolation of the lockdown is leading to severe loneliness.

“This has created a lucrative opportunity for cyber-criminals to exploit this weakness by luring desperate individuals into false romances.

“During the courting phase of this romantic expedition, the perpetrator will collect personal information about the victim.

“When the time is right, the suspect will present a case of urgency requesting for the victim to deposit cash, either once of or over an extended period,” she said.

TAPSOSA shares ways to ensure you don’t get conned out of your money.

  • If you are working from home, make sure you have the latest anti-virus software.
  • When you receive any unsolicited email or SMS do not click any links or open any attachments unless you can verify the sender.
  • Emails that seem too good to be true are probably linked to cybercriminal syndicates. If you are in doubt throw it out!
  • Communicate with clients or suppliers the process that you will follow should you wish to change your banking details or delivery address, this will prevent any potential cyberattacks.
  • If you are lonely rather reach out to friends or family through a video call if this is not an option never give any personal information or make payments to persons you have never met.
  • Use separate emails for work and personal use, it also important that you also register another email address to use only when registering on websites. Don’t forget to use different passwords for each email. This will ensure that when the integrity of either email is compromised, the impact does not overflow to other email addresses.

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