Scam Alert – Navigating Cyber Crime in South Africa

by | Aug 14, 2023 | Cyber Security

It devastatingly came to our attention on Tuesday 8 August 2023 that we’ve fallen victim to cyber crime. Online scammers have been using our company’s good name to cheat people out of their hard earned money.

TEA will never approach individuals or companies offering any form of paid employment opportunities on WhatsApp and Telegram – please never hand over any monies under any circumstances and report the telephone number to WhatsApp / Telegram.

Feel free to contact us to provide telephone numbers or bank account details so that we may add to the active criminal case that has been opened.

This current cyber scam works as follows:

Cyber criminals send unsolicited WhatsApp or Telegram messages to their targets (members of the public) asking if they want to earn extra cash for subscribing to well known/celebrity social media channels/accounts on behalf of our company for payments for each engagement/interaction.

What makes this believable is that The Ethical Agency is a digital marketing agency who does operate within the social media landscape.

Cyber crime relies on complicated social engineering tactics designed to draw the victim in, who are given tasks to complete in order to reach specific levels after they have completed X amount of tasks.

The victims are paid small amounts of money into their bank account for completing X tasks, thereby creating trust and the sense that the scam operation is legitimate.

At some point a task is presented to pay thousands of Rands to move up to the next level so that the commission rate increases. There is some crypto currency element to it as well.

At this point manipulative techniques are used to encourage the victim to pay the money (“It’s completely safe, you will get the money back instantly” etc.)

Once the thousands of Rands are paid you will never hear from the cybercriminals again.

What can you do if you fall victim to cyber crime?

It is very unlikely that you will get your money back. 

  1. Speak with your bank to establish if they are able to reverse the payments
  2. Report cybercrimes in South Africa to the police
  3. Submit your cybercrime to
  4. You can try and help ensure other people don’t fall victim to the same tricks by spreading the word and educating those close to you

Safeguarding Against Cybercrimes in South Africa: Tips to Spot and Prevent Scams

With the rapid advancement of technology and the increasing reliance on digital platforms, cybercrimes have become a prevalent concern globally, and including in South Africa. 

The country’s growing internet penetration and digital transformation have opened new avenues for cybercriminals to exploit unsuspecting individuals, especially on WhatsApp and Telegram. 

However, by staying informed and adopting proactive measures, you can effectively spot cybercrimes and protect yourself from falling victim to scams.

Spotting Cyber Crime in South Africa

  1. Never trust anyone: whilst it is common for cybercriminals to masquerade as well known and legitimate companies, always check the legitimacy of the opportunity via the company’s contact information on their official website. Also look out for scam notices on that company’s website.
  2. There is no such thing as easy money: if it sounds too good to be true it almost always is.
  3. Phishing emails and messages: cybercriminals often use deceptive emails or messages to steal sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details. Be wary of unsolicited emails that ask you to click on links or provide personal information, especially if they create a sense of urgency or fear. If there is even a shimmer of doubt, see point 1.
  4. Fraudulent websites: check the authenticity of websites before making online transactions. Ensure the website’s URL is in fact the company being referred to and that it begins with “https://” and has a padlock symbol, indicating a secure connection. Avoid clicking on links from unknown sources, as they might lead to fake websites designed to steal your data.
  5. Social engineering: cybercriminals manipulate victims through psychological tactics. Be cautious if someone asks for personal or financial information over the phone or online, even if they claim to be from a legitimate organisation. Verify their identity independently before sharing any sensitive data. If there is even a shimmer of doubt, see point 1.
  6. Unsolicited calls: beware of unsolicited phone calls or messages claiming you’ve won prizes, need to verify your account, or have outstanding payments. Scammers often impersonate well-known companies or government agencies to trick you into sharing personal information or transferring money.
  7. Investment scams: be cautious when dealing with investment opportunities that promise high returns with little risk (see point 2). Always research the company and check if the opportunity is legitimate, seek advice from trusted financial experts, and avoid making hasty decisions based on pressure.

Steps to Prevent Cyber Scams

  1. Educate yourself: stay informed about common cybercrime tactics and trends in South Africa. Regularly update your knowledge of the latest scams and techniques used by cybercriminals.
  2. Verify sources: before clicking on any link, downloading an attachment, or providing information online, always verify the source. Check the sender’s email address or the website’s URL. Cybercriminals often create fake websites that look similar to legitimate ones to deceive users.
  3. Trust your instincts: if something seems too good to be true or feels suspicious, trust your instincts. Take the time to research and verify before taking any action.
  4. Strong passwords: use strong and unique passwords for each online account. Include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, and avoid using easily guessable information such as birthdays or names.
  5. Multi-factor authentication (MFA): enable MFA whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide a second form of verification, such as a text message or fingerprint, in addition to your password.
  6. Secure Wi-Fi: use secure Wi-Fi networks, especially when conducting sensitive transactions. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for tasks involving personal or financial information.
  7. Regular updates: keep your operating system, applications, and antivirus software up to date. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software.

In Summary

As South Africa continues to embrace digitalisation, it’s crucial to remain vigilant against cybercrimes that can compromise your personal and financial information. By staying informed about common scams, adopting best practices for online security, and trusting your instincts, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to cybercriminals and contribute to a safer digital environment for all.