HOW TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED

SACF's MD recounts nearly being scammed:

It was a typical mid-week morning. I was catching up on emails, making a few calls, and waiting for a meeting when the front desk called with an urgent message. A former member of the executive and a prominent businessman needs me to call them back urgently.

I’m surprised. Because while I work in an industry that requires several conversations with government types, I have not had any contact with his portfolio.

But I do my civic duty and call back.

It unfolds that the politician was apparently given my telephone number by another prominent political office bearer. One I know, and one I often engage in a professional nature.

This is an important person. So, this must be important! It has to be.

I am now on the call with this very important person.

Turns out he is in desperate need of help. He is in another country battling to get his stranded daughter money to travel a far distance to university in the Eastern Cape. And he is unable to help because – As I should know – there’s always a delay between foreign banks and South African money transfers.

Fortunately for me, I’m naturally curious, and a spin-off is that I’m constantly suspicious. I think the first word I uttered as a child was: Why?

Why does this important politician and public service office bearer not use his South African bank Account?

Why did the referral politician and public office bearer who is well known to me not assist?

Why am I the only person in the entire country that can assist? Can his office not help?

Why, as I ask these questions, do I receive another call and it’s the stranded daughter who undoubtedly sounds like a man?

If I was prone to vanity, my ego would certainly be stroked now: Being called on to be the solver of this very important person’s problem. Luckily I’m not. Because it is all a lie. A fictitious story. A pretence to swindle me out of money.

I must hand it to them. Scammers do their homework. They are well researched and know just enough facts to get past the front desk. They’re bold, brazen, and very convincing. They understand human nature. It is not hard to see how easily people find themselves scammed. These are very clever tricksters. So, I think it’s important to remind people to be always vigilant.

Here are my tips to identify a scammer.

Be safe out there.

Katharina.

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