Was Tokyo Sexwale the hapless victim of a common 419 scam combined with a successful phishing attempt?
That’s what the CEO of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) Nischal Mewalall believes.
Even after the National Treasury, and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) both denied Sexwale’s allegations that billions meant for higher education students had been looted by the government, African National Congress (ANC) veteran, Sexwale stood by his claims this week and laid a criminal complaint with the Hawks.
Weekend Witness contacted Sabric to learn more about these types of scams and how people can avoid them.
Mewalall said he had come across this type of scam during his work in government where people put together documents wanting to work with government.
“This fits exactly the profile of a combination of a 419 scam and a phishing expedition. People doing these types of scams are looking for documents and official correspondence by government departments not necessarily money.
“It’s like a harvesting exercise. They build a reserve of documentation with names of these government employees when they get information and use this further. They also are looking for access to influential individuals that can drive the scam unknowingly,” said Mewalall, adding that sometimes these people are looking for tender documents to use for financial gain.
Media and communications manager for Sabric, Louise van der Merwe said, “A 419-scam is an illegal way of getting money from an individual/s by sending them an e-mail promising that they will make a lot of money if they invest in a business activity which in fact does not exist.
“Phishing then, is where e-mails request users to click on a link in the email which will direct users to a ‘spoofed’ website designed to fool users into thinking it is legitimate to obtain, verify or update contact details or other sensitive financial information,” said Van der Merwe, adding a spoofed website will look almost identical to a legitimate or well-known financial institute.
Van der Merwe said phishing e-mails are a form of spam e-mails, typically sent in large numbers to consumer e-mail accounts.
“The criminals send them in the hope of tricking recipients into disclosing personal information in bogus online platforms on spoofed websites,” he said.
Since making these allegations, National Treasury, and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) have denied the allegations and have said Sexwale has fallen victim to a scam.
“Over the years, National Treasury and the SARB have received [complaints about] many such requests for, or promises, of billions (and now trillions) of rands or dollars, and from experience regard these as simply scams.”