A massive 68% of South Africans have dealt with fraudsters who were trying to steal money, bank card details, Internet banking credentials in 2020.

Kaspersky research shows that 38% of respondents encountered scammers themselves, 20% said it was their loved ones who had interacted with criminals and the other 10% marked both categories.

According to the survey, the fraudsters’ criminal attempts increased in 2020. More than half of the respondents in South Africa (58%) consider that scammers had targeted them or their loved ones more frequently during the coronavirus pandemic and self-isolation.

Scammers exploited different ways and statements in their manipulations in order to reach victims. Among them were special offers such as personal protection items for sale (11%) and goods that allegedly diagnose and treat coronavirus: non-existent medicines, tests and others (13%).

Some criminals offered to issue a special city pass during lockdown (9%) or requested payment of fines allegedly for non-compliance with rules related to the fight against coronavirus (14%).

“Scammers often adapt their manipulations to the current agenda,” says Maher Yamout, senior security sesearcher at Kaspersky. “During the pandemic, some scammers tried to exploit people’s anxiety to make money in the increased demand for certain goods while others focused on citizens’ desire of freedom.

“No matter what kind of tricks the scammers use, users should follow the basic rules of cybersecurity,” he adds.

The most popular way of protection against online scams among the respondents locally was to ignore messages or emails from strangers and invitations to follow suspicious links (81%). Also 49% use special protection solutions (antivirus).