Newcastle businesswoman loses thousands to cybercrime attack

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Cybercrime has come under the spotlight, with tech-savvy hackers infiltrating businesses in Newcastle around the country. But just how bad is cybercrime?

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Risks Report 2019, claims technological instability is a major risk. 

In fact, WEF claims massive data fraud and theft is ranked the number-four global risk; with cyber-attacks coming in at number five. 

Furthermore, in South Africa, experts are claiming the threats are extremely severe, with various businesses across sectors at risk of being compromised by cybercriminals. 

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) claims SA currently has the third-highest number of cybercrime victims worldwide. SABRIC estimates SA loses an estimated R2.2bn a year to cyber-attacks. 

Also read: Alleged Newcastle e-commerce site scams Port Shepstone resident out of R15 000

With technological savvy criminals causing major financial losses to the country, how prevalent is cybercrime in Newcastle?

A local businesswoman has recently fallen victim to an unscrupulous hacker, who stole an undisclosed amount of cash from her.

The incident began in September, when the businesswoman received an email from an individual, appearing to be from a company which she has an account with.

The email notified, that due to internet fraud, the banking account they usually paid monies into; had to be changed. Containing the familiar information of the company, the business owner never questioned the change in banking details.

“The email looked legitimate; I never once thought of phoning for confirmation. I was even given a reference number for when paying the monies in.”

With the email containing the necessary information of the company, the business paid the account for the months of September and October.

“Two days after making payment in October, I noticed the statements did not reflect our payments.”

It was then that she contacted the company in question, finding out that not only did they not receive payment, but their bank account had not changed.

Upon further investigation of the email received, she noticed, while the email address looked legitimate, one letter in the e-mail address had been changed.

Meaning the scam artist had created an entirely new account after acquiring the company’s information.

Furthermore, to buy time for himself, the suspect went as far as sending the company’s office an email with a fake proof of payment, under the pretence of being the businesswoman. Again, in this email, one letter in the email address was changed. 

Opening a case at the SAPS and their bank’s fraud division, the business owner now encourages Newcastillians to carefully check the spelling of all email addresses, as well as to contact the respective individuals before sharing information and making any form of a financial transaction.

“I feel stupid and I could have prevented it. This experience is not dissimilar to having your house burgled. It is an invasion of my privacy.”

With cybercriminals creating elaborate scams to steal from law-abiding citizens, have you fallen victim to a similar crime? If so, contact Quinton Boucher on 079 506 4858 or editor@pixelfishmarketing.co.za and share your story with us.

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