New housing scam hits South Africa

Experts have warned of a new government housing scam that has hit South Africa.

Jackie Smith, Head of Buyers Trust, explained that malicious parties have contacted Kraaifontein residents, informing them that they have been approved for a free RDP home in the Maroela housing scheme.

In reality, this project will only be completed in mid-2025.

The criminals then ask victims to pay a registration fee to become eligible.

Smith said these scams have become increasingly common throughout South Africa and could continue to increase in popularity.

“In the wake of the recent elections, these could become more commonplace due to changes in the administration allowing scammers to slip through the cracks,” said Smith.

She added that because these crimes are often executed through social media, it is harder to track the scammers.

Easy ways to identify scammers are communications without an official letterhead, poor spelling and grammar, and suspicious email addresses and phone numbers.

However, an absence of these red flags does not mean the correspondence is legit.

“While sophisticated scammers will often create official-looking documents to appear more legitimate, the golden rule for protecting yourself from these scams is remembering that no payment is required when applying for government subsidised housing or for the First-Home Finance Program,” said Smith.

Phishing scam hits taxpayers

Another major scam that has hit South Africa involves taxpayers who use the eFiling system.

The scam uses a spoofed Sars logo and similar formatting to formal Sars notices.

It claims that taxpayers cannot file their 2024 return until they pay an outstanding amount, and provides an account number for the payment.

“Sars never provides bank account numbers. If you need to make a payment, only use the official Sars payment channels,” said Sars in response to the scam.

Van Huyssteens Commercial Attorneys tax director Jean-Louis Nel told 702 that Sars has shared more than ten warnings of phishing attempts in the past six months.

“It appears that it’s becoming a more common problem in relation to VAT refunds in particular, where tax practitioners have in excess of ten company profiles where this actually emanates,” he said.

“It’s very similar to what is happening to attorneys with respect to conveyancing matters, where there’s phishing and deposits for property transfers are also paid to scamsters… and it’s similar to internet banking phishing scams,” he said.

Sars recommends the following measures to protect themselves from scams.

  • Don’t open or respond to emails from unknown sources.
  • Be sceptical of emails that ask for personal, tax, banking, or eFiling details.
  • Sars will never request banking details in any communication sent via post, email, or SMS.
  • However, Sars will verify personal details during telephonic engagement and authentication.
  • Sars will never send taxpayers any hyperlinks to other websites, even banking platforms.

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New housing scam hits South Africa