R1.6 million stolen from ABSA client after Vodacom SIM-swap fraud

A couple is suing ABSA for R1.3 million, and interest, after criminals used an illegal Vodacom SIM swap to steal R1.6 million from their home loan and business accounts.

Rapport reported that Karen and Johan Holtzhauzen were the victims. R290,000 of their stolen money was recovered.

According to the couple, the fraud started on 25 April when money was transferred to five ABSA accounts in five transactions, and a small amount was withdrawn.

The rest of the money – around R1.3 million – was only withdrawn or transferred to other banks between 2-4 May.

The first transaction on 25 April involved a transfer of R300,000 to an ABSA account, which was moved to a Capitec account in multiple R25,000 transactions.

They allege that Capitec flagged the transactions as suspicious and informed ABSA about the activity.

However, according to the couple, ABSA did not alert them to the potential fraud – which could have stopped the loss of the remaining R1.3 million.

ABSA closed the account on 5 May, and the Holtzhauzens argue that this is gross negligence from the bank and it should be held liable for their losses.

ABSA argued that the couple was a victim of a phishing attack, and it is only responsible for losses which occur after an incident is reported by a client.

ABSA previously stated that online banking fraud is only possible through phishing attacks and SIM-swap fraud, which is outside of its control.

ABSA sticking with SureCheck

In January, ABSA said it will stick with transaction verification technology that remains linked to cellphones and SIM cards, called SureCheck.

This sends clients a USSD pop-up prompting them to accept or reject a transaction.

“We can assure customers that we employ a multitude of security mechanisms for transactions, which includes heavy PIN encryption and regular audits which mandate specific controls for the protection of PIN codes,” said ABSA.

This means no one in the bank can see or retrieve your PIN.

“Notwithstanding the security features, we have no choice but to rely on our customers remaining vigilant at all times with their personal information and banking details.”

SIM-swap fraud protection

Vodacom provided the following tips to guard against SIM-swap fraud.

  • Be conscious of your cellphone’s connectivity status. If you can’t make or receive calls, contact Vodacom and find out whether a SIM swap has been processed.
  • Never ignore a SIM-swap SMS alert.
  • Report calls or messages telling you to ignore SIM-swap notifications.
  • Deactivate your SIM in the event of an unauthorised swap.

Now read: Vodacom customer loses R250,000 in SIM-swap fraud

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R1.6 million stolen from ABSA client after Vodacom SIM-swap fraud