Tue Sep 26 07:44:00 CAT 2017

Help! I need bail money!

2012-07-23 07:10:02.0 | KGOMOTSO SETHUSHA |

"I'M not arrested and I'm not broke!" This is a strong rebuff from Mamelodi Sundowns official Alex Shakoane, who fell victim to a cellphone scam designed to solicit cash from friends and colleagues.

IMPERSONATED: Alex Shakoane. Picture by Antonio Muchave

 We can't go on like this 

"People got messages from my cellphone number telling them I'd been arrested and needed R2000 for bail," says Shakoane.

"This has turned me against some of the people I know. Some are even demanding I repay them."

Concerned unsuspecting friends and colleagues sent airtime and deposited money into a false bank account, thinking they were helping to bail out a friend who had been arrested for speeding.

This reporter got an SMS from Shakoane's mobile last week saying "send me airtime, I'm arrested for speed (sic) plz sms me".

SIM swaps usually happen when a person loses their handset, but fraudsters also get victims' cellphone numbers and other personal information through phishing.

They then call the network operator posing as the customer, requesting a SIM swap. The customer's SIM connection will be cancelled and the fraudsters will have access to their cellphone number and can impersonate him or her.

When he discovered the scam, a concerned Shakoane contacted his cellphone operator, MTN, who advised him to cancel his number.

To his amazement, he was told a SIM swap on his number had been done at a call centre in Limpopo.

"Cellphone operators must protect us from these fraudsters. They must help locate these criminals and have them arrested.

"We can't go on like this."

MTN spokesperson Bridget Bhengu says: "We have liaised with the complainant. We would like to assure our customers that we view this in a serious light. We are attending to it."

Shakoane is not the first football VIP to fall victim to the scam. Colleague Trott Moloto and players Katlego Mphela and Lebogang Mokoena have also been caught.

Cellphone operators say the number of SIM swap fraud cases reported used to be three to five monthly, but this number has now increased to about 25 a month.

Vodacom's Nomsa Thusi says: "If a customer gets an SMS notification indicating they've requested a SIM swap, they should ignore any further communication and contact Vodacom. We'll take the necessary steps to protect them."


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