Vodacom customer loses R250,000 in SIM-swap fraud – Absa refuses to pay him back

Former Vodacom subscriber Piet Malan reached the end of his tether with Vodacom last year, and decided to show his frustration outside the operator’s Westgate branch.

On 20 April 2016, he uploaded a video of the scene to YouTube, which didn’t get a lot of traction. This week, he reposted the video to Facebook.

In the video, Malan is shown shouting outside Vodacom Westgate, saying that the company takes R10,000 from him every month and telling passers-by not to use the mobile operator.

“Don’t use Vodacom. They’re shit. Vodacom is shit,” he said. The video is below.

SIM-swap fraud

Malan told MyBroadband that he was set off by the poor service he received from Vodacom when his Absa account was hit by SIM-swap fraud in 2016.

Between 01:00 and 02:00 on a Saturday morning, Malan said his phone dropped off the Vodacom network.

He contacted the mobile operator and was told to do a SIM swap at a store. By that Monday, his SIM still wasn’t active.

Malan said he went into Vodacom and caused a “bit of a scene”.

He said he was reconnected within minutes, but discovered that being without his phone for the weekend was the least of his inconveniences.

He received messages to inform him that over R249,000 had been transferred out of his Absa account while his phone was offline to someone identified as Mohammed.

The thieves had also racked up a bill on his Vodacom account of almost R260,000.

Piet Malan Vodacom debit order

Moved to Cell C

The debit order for his Vodacom account went off on 1 July 2016, which Malan got Absa to reverse.

Refusing to pay the bill caused Vodacom to cut him off, but Malan said the operator never pursued the matter further. “They knew they were in the wrong,” he said.

He then transferred all his cellular accounts to Cell C, he said.

Malan said he’s been in business for over 20 years and that he had the same number for as long as he’s had a cellphone.

“Do you know how many people looked for me [on that number]?” said Malan.

Zero tolerance to any illegal activity on our network

Vodacom told MyBroadband it has a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal activity on its network.

“Following a thorough investigation on this matter, our fraud and risk department confirmed that Mr Malan was a victim of fraud,” said Vodacom.

Vodacom said it has spoken to Malan and said he will be credited for the data charges incurred as a result of the fraud.

“Please note that the credit is processed as a goodwill gesture as Mr Malan is a customer in good standing.”

No refund from Absa

Malan said Absa has refused to reimburse him for the money stolen from his account, saying he had not kept his Internet banking credentials safe.

“Vodacom didn’t want to accept responsibility. Absa didn’t want to accept responsibility. Who would give their Internet banking password out?” said Malan.

The bank confirmed Malan’s situation, stating it will not reimburse him.

“Absa views financial crime in a very serious light and we initiated a full forensic investigation into Mr Malan’s case,” it said.

After deciding not to repay him, the case was referred to the Ombudsman for Banking, where a ruling was made in favour of Absa.

“It is important to note that clients also have a duty to protect their own security information (passwords and PINs) as well as IT equipment they use to access their account,” said Absa.

This IT equipment includes computers and mobile phones.

“It also requires other institutions to have similarly secure systems. These institutions include mobile phone companies where criminals sometimes swap the SIM cards of clients without their knowledge,” said Absa.

Vodacom apologises to Piet Malan

After the publication of this article, Vodacom offered the following apology to Malan.

Hi, my name is Jorge Mendes and I look after Vodacom franchise stores for South Africa.

Many of you may have seen recently on social media an unfortunate incident with one of our clients, a Mr. Malan. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to Mr. Malan for the unfortunate incident that has taken place. These kind of standards are unacceptable and we definitely do not tolerate this kind of service. Mr Malan, sincere apologies from our side. We have as a goodwill gesture credited the account but I am personally taking a hard look at the matter and making sure that we don’t have this kind of repeat service in our stores. We sincerely hope that you remain one of our valued clients and once again my sincere apologies for the way in which this matter was handled.

Now read: Absa sticking with SMS and USSD, despite SIM-swap fraud

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Vodacom customer loses R250,000 in SIM-swap fraud – Absa refuses to pay him back