South African govt departments issue warnings as social media scams hit institutions

Johannesburg, Feb 28 (PTI): Several South African government ministries and institutions on Tuesday issued warnings after attempts were made to scam the public using their credentials through social media.

The Department of Human Settlements warned the public of fake LinkedIn accounts in the name of its minister; the Department of Health about fake calls for tenders worth millions being emailed to unsuspecting people; and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has expressed concern about fake accounts in the name of its CEO Sy Mamabolo.

“The Department of Human Settlements notes with great concern a fake LinkedIn account purporting to be that of Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, used by scammers to take money from unsuspecting individuals, promising them funding opportunities,” a statement from the department said on Tuesday.

“The fake account recently scammed a member of the public under a fake campaign titled ‘European Business Fund’, requesting a fee of R8,000 for registration and a further R60,000 after submitting a business plan,” the statement added.

“We wish to place it on record that Minister Kubayi has only one official LinkedIn account. As such, other accounts should be treated with suspicion, and members of the public are further encouraged to refrain from engaging with suspicious accounts and report or block them. Some of these fake social accounts often spread scams, promote phony products and even share lies and misinformation,” it said.

The Department of Health cautioned against another scam involving a “Request for Quotations” scheme. The scammers send authentic-looking forms, even including the department’s logo, but also request bank details which are then misused.

Both the health ministry and other departments have advised people receiving such requests that they should first check the authenticity thereof directly with the relevant ministry and never provide banking details online.

“People have lost million through these scams,” said a senior government official.

The IEC on Tuesday issued a statement about the re-emergence of an impostor posing as the Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo.

“The commission first became aware of the impostor in October 2022 and issued a public alert and reported the matter to the police for investigation. Indications of the South African Police Service are that investigations are still continuing. The activities of the imposter receded in December 2022 but have now resurfaced since the weekend.

“The impostor appears very active on WhatsApp wherein he or she is conversing with unsuspecting professional contacts and acquaintances of the Chief Electoral Officer. The WhatsApp account linked to the number 084 577 9791 bears the photographs of the chief electoral officer. These photographs are easily accessible from news sites and publications on the internet”, the IEC said.

“The commission strongly condemns the impersonation of the chief electoral officer as this is damaging to the reputation of the institution, a feat we can least afford as we scale up the preparations for the 2024 national and provincial elections,” the IEC said as it called on the public to assist in apprehending the culprit as his or her criminal conduct undermines electoral democratic processes of the country and the commission. PTI FH PY PY PY

(This story is published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. No editing has been done in the headline or the body by ABP Live.)

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