Phishing: Bigtime Cybercrime hits SA

Phishing: Bigtime Cybercrime hits SA

Banks are making only feeble attempts at curbing SA’s huge cybercrime wave.

What’s to be done about the billions of rand lost last year by an estimated one million South Africans who fell victim to online banking fraud and cybercrime committed by “wasps” on their cellphones? Big-scale crime – as the sophistication and relentless frequency of the phishing messages we receive by sms and email suggests it is – means there must be big stashes accumulating or “aggregating” in a few bank accounts somewhere, and that somewhere must be traceable by banks and the police – by sheer dint of the volume of the traffic.

“A lot of this crime is committed by syndicates. Criminals across the border will send out, say, 100 million phishing attacks in a day. Only a small percentage needs to bite to realise a lot of money," claimed an expert in a recent press interview.

“Phishing is an easy-to-commit, low-risk crime because the authorities don’t have the resources to catch the criminals who are making R1,000 here, R1,000 there.”

Which rather misses the point, because all those R1,000s are accumulating somewhere — creating piles worth billions — which have to be worth tracking. So much so that the banks' apparent reluctance to track the massive cash flow generated by online criminals looks downright suspicious...

Land grab Midvaal DA style

Land grab Midvaal DA style

The curious tale of a land confiscation that nobody can explain.

It was the new South Africa, 1995, and Don Sipho Mashele had become a member of the SANDF (he is now a colonel). His wife Alberica decided to do something that apartheid had denied them: the right to buy a 4.0471-hectare agricultural smallholding in Homestead Apple Orchards, near Vereeniging. The property was on the market for R40,000. The couple used their savings for the R16,000 deposit and obtained a R24,000 bond from FNB for the balance. The property was transferred into Alberica’s name and a bond was registered in FNB’s favour in 1996.

Assuming they would only have to pay rates once the De Deur Municipality connected their piece of land to the municipal services’ grid and provided them with water, electricity and sewerage, they sat back and waited – a decision that turned out to be very costly; services or not, the council already had its rates “meter” running.

Mashele told Noseweek that in 1999  he was alerted by his area councillor to the fact that he and his wife owed money “for land tax” – in fact, municipal rates for services that were still not available to the Masheles’ erf 59. Unbeknown to them ...

Profile: Richard Young – a marked man

Profile: Richard Young – a marked man

He has all the characteristics of a John le Carré hero – brilliance, wealth, disillusionment and an obsession with finding justice in the murky world of arms trade corruption.

A loner, prepared to take on even the top echelons of power, businessman Richard Young, a key whistleblower in the Arms Deal, believes he has suffered an injustice and is determined not to let up until the “end game has been played out”.

Richard Young wants to encourage whistleblowers. “I want others to see what I’ve been able to achieve with regards to the Arms Deal. I want people who know more about, say, electricity corruption or health care, oil or gas corruption, or cellular telephony – any corruption, whatever it is – to make that their hobbyhorse, to take it on and not let it rest.

“I would like another 20 small teams of people, insiders like me… to do what I have done. That is what will eventually lead to an end to the corruption which is completely out of control in this country at every level. If we don’t control it, that is the end of the Rainbow Nation.”

As we sit in the chilly ...

FNB's execs party away profits

FNB's execs party away profits

The management in FNB’s Core Banking Solutions division (CBS) – the people who set those outrageous fees on current or cheque accounts – has changed a lot over the past three to four years. They have become a self-absorbed, exclusive “club” whose members somehow believe they are entitled to all sorts of special benefits – benefits that the lower echelons of staff, their customers and SARS really don’t need to know about.

One of the most recent super-perks has been an eight-day, all-expenses-paid holiday trip (in work time) for the “Exco Team” and their partners, 40 people in all, to Iceland  – ironically a country bankrupted by the excesses of its bankers. In preparation for the trip, Core Banking CEO Irlon Terblanche had his FNB card’s limit increased to R150,000 for the week. Clubbing is apparently big in Iceland and FNB would be picking up the tab!

Included in the tour (“because we’re worth it!”) were Terblanche; CFO Ravi Singh; Johan Moolman (debit cards); Andrew Bladon (sales); Ilse Smuts (marketing); Rya-Mari Muller (projects); Tracy van de Goede (HR); Rhoda Moodley (legal & compliance); Jo-Ann du Plessis (pricing); Shane French  (ops); Rob Evans; Kayur Govind (pricing); and Chranshenda (Shandy) John (PA to the CEO).

Almost immediately some of them recklessly...

 

Bompas Road rumpus over building

Bompas Road rumpus over building

Developers and officials ignore frantic objections by neighbours.

Dunkeld in Johannesburg is about to get its tallest building; a six-storey office block that can park 222 vehicles is nearing completion at the corner of Bompas and Northumberland roads. Although the neighbours are unhappy, developer Stuart Grant of Navonet (Pty) Ltd has been building almost continuously since last November, even though the plans were only approved ten months later, in September this year.

Now there is a huge groundswell of objections by residents and other office-block owners in the vicinity, 15 of whom will be badly affected, with homes devalued by up to R1 million.

With 110 residents against the huge development and the traffic nightmare it will cause in Bompas Road, the Craigpark Residents’ Association has lodged an appeal with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications along with the Gauteng Townships Board, as well as with the City of Johannesburg. If all else fails, the group may ask the high court to force the council to review its approval of the development. 

Data bundle bombshell

Data bundle bombshell

Lots of people don’t know the difference between bites and bytes – but one tough customer refused to be bitten.

Data  bundles,  bandwidth, gigabytes, megabytes – whatever they call them, certain internet service providers clearly hope that most consumers are either too busy to be bothered to know exactly what they are buying, or simply pretend to understand the techie jargon. Altech Autopage Cellular, for example, was confident their new customer was an IT illiterate when they sold Christine Kinsman of Benoni their new data bundle “special” in April.

That month the company distributed fliers promoting a mobile data bundle of 40 gigabytes at an industry low of just R189 a month. On April 15, Kinsman signed a subscriber agreement for the special offer. According to the contract she signed, each month for the following twelve months she would receive 20 gigs for peak time, plus another 20 gigs of night access. This was by far the best deal available in the country at the time.

The following day, she received a text message advising her that 7.5GB midnight data and 2.5GB peak data had been uploaded on to her account. This didn’t seem right, as a pro-rata amount from mid-month should have been 10GB each. She immediately called Ariel, the Autopage Cellular agent who had signed her up. Ariel didn’t seem to know what had happened, but promised to investigate.

UPDATE: Brickbats fly in B&B battle

UPDATE: Brickbats fly in B&B battle

Accusations mount in the zoning war of Port Elizabeth’s rival guesthouses.

Two drawn-out legal battles in Port Elizabeth have resulted in guesthouse owners being ordered to demolish illegally constructed buildings.

Both Perapanjakam “Punji” Naidoo’s Shan Trust and Marais Ellis’s Equus Training and Consulting CC ignored bylaws by building without approved plans, or by submitting plans retrospectively then deviating substantially from them in subsequent expansions – all without the approval of their neighbours. 

Louis Group: promises, promises

Louis Group: promises, promises

Alan Louis wrote to business-rescue practitioner Trevor Glaum of Sanek Trust in August, assuring him that in the “highly unlikely” event that Louis Group South Africa  failed to repay 100% of its R29-million loan debt to Abela Property Investments, then the Louis Group International Foundation [first we hear of its existence – Ed.] will fund the difference, which, he said, would have the effect that the shareholders in Abela “will not be at any loss”.

Mr Nose was almost at a loss for words with excitement on behalf of those Abela shareholders  – until he read the next paragraph of Alan Louis BComm (Hons) MComm PhD’s letter: “The Foundation, if so required, will raise the funds from Banc Roche (Singapore) to give effect to this guarantee.”

A guarantee based on an offshore loan yet to be raised? Mr Nose quickly got his breath back: what might Banc Roche in Singapore have to say about Alan’s promises on their behalf? The Louis Group has been defaulting on repayments to Investec Bank since May 2011.

UPDATE: Mr Sphere ducks and dives

UPDATE: Mr Sphere ducks and dives

When ex-Zimbabwean financial advisor Peter Ronald found his way into Noseweek in July (nose165: “Trust me, I’m a financial planner” and in nose166) he was still insisting that his Sphere Globa ...

Colourful life drawn to a close

Colourful life drawn to a close

Myke Ashley-Cooper

(30 June 1941 – 22 October 2013)

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Zimbabwe. National carrier under new management and set for privatisation.

UK newspaper The Sun called him "The Maniac in the mink", The Guardian headlined it's profile of him "Ever nastier Nick". The Palace-cum-mausoleum he has built for himself in East Sussex is described as the most expensive private house built in England in a century. In 1968 he was imprisoned for paying a gang to attack a business associate. And in 2002 he was ordered to pay millions in damages to the dependants of a business rival in whose killing he was implicated.

Why is it that it comes as no surprise that self-made billionaire Nicholas van Hoogstraten also has substantial business clout in Zimbabwe, largely due to his friendship with Robert Mugabe, whom he calls a true "business gentleman"?

Now Zimbabwe’s state-owned national airline, Air Zimbabwe, has approached the notorious British tycoon for cash to help revive its operations.

Scalpel War

Scalpel War

The scalpels are out in an almighty row involving heart surgeons, anaesthetists, hospital management, the Health Professions Council, a few heart patients who barely survived surgery in the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital ...
 
Phishing: Bigtime Cybercrime hits SA

Phishing: Bigtime Cybercrime hits SA

Banks are making only feeble attempts at curbing SA’s huge cybercrime wave. What’s to be done about the billions of rand lost last year by an estimated one million South Africans who fell victim ...

Land grab Midvaal DA style

Land grab Midvaal DA style

The curious tale of a land confiscation that nobody can explain. It was the new South Africa, 1995, and Don Sipho Mashele had become a member of the SANDF (he is now a colonel). His ...

Profile: Richard Young – a marked man

Profile: Richard Young – a marked man

He has all the characteristics of a John le Carré hero – brilliance, wealth, disillusionment and an obsession with finding justice in the murky world of arms trade corruption. A loner, prepared to ...

FNB's execs party away profits

FNB's execs party away profits

The management in FNB’s Core Banking Solutions division (CBS) – the people who set those outrageous fees on current or cheque accounts – has changed a lot over the past three to four ...

Bompas Road rumpus over building

Bompas Road rumpus over building

Developers and officials ignore frantic objections by neighbours. Dunkeld in Johannesburg is about to get its tallest building; a six-storey office block that can park 222 vehicles is nearing completion at the corner of ...

Data bundle bombshell

Data bundle bombshell

Lots of people don’t know the difference between bites and bytes – but one tough customer refused to be bitten. Data  bundles,  bandwidth, gigabytes, megabytes – whatever they call them, certain internet service providers clearly hope that ...

UPDATE: Brickbats fly in B&B battle

UPDATE: Brickbats fly in B&B battle

Accusations mount in the zoning war of Port Elizabeth’s rival guesthouses. Two drawn-out legal battles in Port Elizabeth have resulted in guesthouse owners being ordered to demolish illegally constructed buildings. Both Perapanjakam “Punji” ...

Louis Group: promises, promises

Louis Group: promises, promises

Alan Louis wrote to business-rescue practitioner Trevor Glaum of Sanek Trust in August, assuring him that in the “highly unlikely” event that Louis Group South Africa  failed to repay 100% of its ...

UPDATE: Mr Sphere ducks and dives

UPDATE: Mr Sphere ducks and dives

When ex-Zimbabwean financial advisor Peter Ronald found his way into Noseweek in July (nose165: “Trust me, I’m a financial planner” and in nose166) he was still insisting that his Sphere Global Properties management fund was legitimate ...

Colourful life drawn to a close

Colourful life drawn to a close

Myke Ashley-Cooper (30 June 1941 – 22 October 2013) ...

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Zimbabwe. National carrier under new management and set for privatisation. UK newspaper The Sun called him "The Maniac in the mink", The Guardian headlined it's profile of him "Ever nastier Nick". The Palace-cum-mausoleum he ...