Scammers are watching your social media consumer rants

It may seem to yield results but it’s not safe to share customer service complaints on social media. A brush with bank fraud has left a Johannesburg woman feeling “violated and utterly shaken”.

Speaking to TMG Digital on Friday‚ mother and business owner Michelle Damaskinos explained unsettling details of how she was minutes away from becoming a victim of cyber-banking fraud.

On Wednesday‚ shortly after 4pm‚ Damaskinos posted to Nedbank’s Facebook profile sharing her complaints about the bank’s Greenbacks Rewards Programme and the negative experience she had while trying to redeem her points.

Just over three-and-a-half hours later‚ Nedbank responded to her complaint and undertook to address her query the next day.

On Thursday morning‚ Damaskinos received a Facebook friend request from “Nedbank General Enquiries” and – unknown to her at the time – a scammer began communicating with her via Facebook Messenger.

“So I accepted the friend request and thought: ‘Wow‚ a novel approach actually setting themselves up as a personal identity.’ I didn’t for a moment think anything of it.

“They came through very efficient stating that they just wanted to find out if any of the Nedbank consultants had been in touch with me‚” Damaskinos said.

The scammer then informed her that they needed to ask her a couple of “security questions”.

“This had been the process every time I tried to call into Greenbacks as well – so it was pretty standard procedure.

“They asked me for my ID number and all the bank accounts associated‚ and if I had any other personal accounts with Nedbank. Then they said that they need the last three transactions on my business account.

She had just sent through the message that she had last paid her phone bill‚ also providing the amount when she received a call from Nedbank Forensics.

“As I said that‚ I received a phone call from a man from Nedbank Forensics‚ who said to me: ‘You’ve got a friend request‚ just to let you know that that is not Nedbank’‚” Damaskinos said.

“I went back on messenger and I said to this person or entity‚ whoever it was‚ that ‘Nedbank Forensics is on the ball today‚ you are not going to be scamming me and may your criminal behaviour come back and bite you tenfold’.

“I immediately unfriended them and the profile has since been removed‚” she added.

Nedbank Forensics then informed her that providing the scammer with the requested information would have allowed full access to her account‚ she said.

“I felt totally violated and utterly shaken because I have never been so close to being a victim of something like this. I am usually very vigilant when it comes to online security.

“It just felt very surreal being hooked into this virtual world and engaging with a criminal who was about to use my information and get into my business account. This was definitely a wakeup call‚” Damaskinos said.

The chief executive of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre‚ Kalyani Pillay said it is of great importance that individuals be mindful of their cyber-security.

“I think it’s very important for people to remember that the only way you can safeguard yourself‚ irrespective of who it is that is purporting to contact you‚ is to not share your information on these platforms.

“It is also extremely important that you safeguard your personal profiles or accounts to the highest degree‚” Pillay said. “Nedbank or any bank will not respond to you by asking you for a friend request.

“People need to go back and revisit the security settings on their profiles and be absolutely aware of their cyber-security.”

Tips to enhance your cyber security:

• Be mindful of how much personal information you share on social networking sites.

• Always set the privacy settings on your social media profiles to the highest level possible.

• Don’t ignore reports from friends about mysterious emails coming from your accounts.

• Never log in to online banking through a link in an email. Either type the address into your browser or use your bookmarks

• Don’t respond to emails that claim to be from your bank (or any other company) requesting your account details

• Banks will never call you and ask you to transfer money to a new account‚ so ignore such calls.


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