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SA’s President Ramaphosa has identity mimicked

By , Africa editor
South Africa , 22 Jun 2023
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has fallen victim to impersonation as criminals assumed his identity to solicit money.

Ramaphosa notified the public yesterday of the scam messages purporting to be sanctioned by the President, or the Presidency, that have been circulating, requesting funds.

“The President does not request any funds or endorse any payments or contracts between third parties, whether through websites, adverts, social media, e-mails, letters, texts or phone conversations,” said the Presidency’s statement.

President Ramaphosa is the second high-profile individual in recent months to fall victim to impersonation. In March, MTN Group notified the public that its chairman Mcebisi Jonas' identity was mimicked in fraud attempts.

MTN Group, which has over 289 million subscribers across 19 markets, informed the public of the impersonation of its chairman, saying it had been “made aware of incidents related to the false solicitation of funding under the guise of requests for sponsorship towards the company’s Corporate Social Investment projects.”

Impersonation is increasing in South Africa, and analysts have urged vigilance in dealing with the crime.

The latest fraud statistics compiled by the Southern African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS), a non-profit fraud-preventing organisation, reveal that impersonation fraud increased by 356% from April 2022 to April 2023.

“South Africa is investing heavily in digitisation to catch up with the rest of the world. However, while digitisation will revolutionise the South African economy in the future, it has risks,” said SAFPS CEO Manie van Schalkwyk earlier this month.

He added: “According to a 2021 Interpol report, South Africa tops Africa in cyber threats and is third in the world, with 230 million threats detected in 2021. Of these, 219 million threats were related to e-mails.

“There has been a marked increase in the use of forged documentation, which has increased by 62% over the same period in 2022. Other forged documentation instances include fake driver's licences, which can be used as a form of identification when applying for credit. This is a risk that the SAFPS is keeping an eye on in the future.”

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