Carey van Vlaaderen

The promise of a great bargain is attractive for SA shoppers, but cybercriminals have special scams of their own in store warns Carey van Vlaanderen, Chief Executive Officer at ESET Southern Africa

This year more South Africans will swop busy shopping centre queues for the checkout button on their favourite e-commerce sites as Black Friday goes more online than ever. That’s why staying vigilant, and knowing how to spot dodgy deals and scams, has never been more important.

Here are the biggest scams of 2022 and how to avoid them this Black Friday:

Phishing emails

Phishing emails are one of the oldest tricks in a cybercriminal’s book. The reason? They often work – especially on Black Friday when consumers receive numerous emails from retailers detailing upcoming specials, order confirmations, and delivery information. Fake order confirmation emails surge at this time of year. These emails claim that one of your orders has been confirmed but won’t mention the content of your purchase. Instead, you’re urged to click on a malicious link to find out. Another increasingly common phishing scam is the ‘there is a problem with your order’ email scam. These cleverly mimic messages from courier companies may direct you to a link asking you to take some kind of action such as paying for a delivery fee shortfall or entering personal information.

WhatsApp Black Friday voucher scams and competitions

Fake vouchers and bogus competitions are other forms of ‘click the link’ scams that go viral on WhatsApp. Messages with the promise of free shopping vouchers or incredible competitions with the chance to win big-ticket items look convincing and direct victims to click on a URL that looks like a legitimate retailer. These scams have become more sophisticated at convincing people to share confidential information.

Social media scams

Fraudsters are savvy on social media all year round but Black Friday is an opportunity to take advantage of the increased number of online shoppers and blend in with the great bargains popping up on newsfeeds across the country. Exercise extra caution around ads offering deals on designer items and massive discounts on luxury goods. Always check the seller’s website and their reviews before you purchase and stay clear if you land on a site with an unusual domain.

Tickets to nowhere

As the year winds down, many people are looking forward to some well-deserved rest and relaxation. With so many great occasions to socialise, from concerts and festivals to sporting events and craft markets, it’s not surprising fraudsters push ticket scams on Black Friday. Criminals usually focus on events which are already sold out and offer fake tickets to highly sought-after sporting matches and concerts. Scammers will use phoney pictures of tickets to fool fans or publish a made-up story about why they cannot attend to sound more legitimate. Once the cash is sent, the scammers simply disappear, leaving behind an anonymous, untraceable online identity and an angry fan left out of pocket. Earlier this year, the South African rugby fraternity cautioned supporters about purchasing fake match-day tickets from fraudulent websites that have no right to sell any rugby tickets in SA.

Staying safe on Black Friday and beyond

  1. Ensure your security is up to date. Cybersecurity solutions like antivirus, firewalls and internet protection must be installed on any connected device, especially your mobile phone when you’re more likely to connect to Wi-Fi, use banking apps, and make online payments.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true it’s probably a scam.
  3. Only shop on websites you know and trust. Always type out the correct website address in your browser rather than clicking on a link.
  4. Stay away from public Wi-Fi. Criminals often intercept public wi-fi by creating a fake hotspot in the same area as a real hotspot.
  5. Only use secure payment services and never share your OTP or passwords with anyone.


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