Friday, May 18, 2007

Only in Africa.... phishing is done on the street.

Today I had to do some (personal) work with the Government.

What I did is personal (so don't ask) and probably not offered in all countries but you can think of it as being similar to renewing a driver's license or getting health benefits, etc. Dealing with the Government.

The department I had to visit has moved and not done a very good job of Informing The Public. Also, unlike the Department of Home Affairs it is not a place you'd visit very often. Some people need never go there.

So... while I was in their waiting room I read a newspaper article they had stuck up on the wall about how they were being targeted by fraudsters. These are people who wait on the pavement just outside or near to the building. They can then spot people who are obviously lost and looking for the building and "help" them out.

They take the people to other buildings somewhere in the vicinity in which a little look-alike office has been set up and charge them about $20 to $100 to lodge an application.

The Government charges nothing (its covered by tax).

Even for me that amount is a lot of money but for the poor who would be most likely to use the service it can be almost half their monthly salary. They also leave in the (falsely) secure knowledge that their application has been processed and I'm not even sure if it does make its way to the Government.

And, of course, these guys also have personal details about the person and probably a photographed copy of their ID book and signature. Maybe even a copy of their last bank statement. These are all things needed to get credit.

Only 1% of Africans have access to the Internet and in the largest city built not near a major river or dam or coast phishing is done on the street.
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