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Scammers Target South African Grant Recipients in an Alarming Trend of Identity Theft

Published February 29, 2024
4 months ago

The nefarious trend of defrauding grant beneficiaries in South Africa has intensified, with scammers leveraging sophisticated methods to divert funds meant for Social Relief of Distress (SRD) to illegitimate accounts. This fraudulent scheme targeting the disadvantaged aligns with previous reports of identity theft and misuse of beneficiary information, further exacerbating financial distress among vulnerable groups.

Young grant applicants, such as Surprise Baloyi from Mahlathi village in Limpopo, have fallen prey to these deceptions. Applicants attempting to access SRD support through the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) often discover wrongful claims made on their behalf. This was the case for Baloyi, who found an active account receiving funds for nearly a year without his consent, and similar incidents occurred with Nwayitelo Zitha and Nyiko Mthombeni.

The impersonation fraud exploits tools like the Shoprite Money Market and ID Generator apps, alongside illicit SIM cards registered through Rica. Criminals operate at the fringes of the digital ecosystem, using these platforms and victim details to register for grants, misleadingly leading to Sassa disbursing funds into fraudulent accounts.

The scam's execution begins at midnight when system vulnerabilities are most prevalent. The perpetrators gather identities, often from individuals newly ineligible for the Child Support Grant, using the ID Gen app and a deceptive Department of Employment and Labour link. Next, they channel their efforts toward setting up counterfeit banking accounts, using the victim's hijacked identity to apply for the SRD grant.

As these activities proliferate, unsuspecting victims remain unaware that their personal details are being weaponized to siphon off grant funds. The clandestine banking accounts, which facilitate the transfer of grant payouts, permit the scammers to launder the stolen money through various channels, including gambling voucher systems like Hollywood and Betway.

This malicious exploitation of the financial aid system not only robs the rightful beneficiaries of crucial support but also undermines trust in aid institutions, underscoring an urgent need for measures to safeguard individual identities and the integrity of social support mechanisms.

Sassa, plagued by systemic challenges and fraudulent interference, reaffirms the vitality of bolstering security protocols and heightening public awareness. Measures should focus on streamlining verification processes, enhancing digital systems security, and actively pursuing perpetrators to dismantle these fraudulent schemes, ultimately ensuring that financial support reaches those in legitimate need.

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