Phishing is a type of social engineering attack often used to steal user data, including login credentials and other personal or financial information. It occurs when an attacker, pretends to be a trusted entity, cons a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message.

Incidents of gender-based violence have been occurring at alarming rates via online portals. These portals are the place where Phishing can take place and the target ground on which victims are selected and their information stolen.

In one case, a scam in which middle-aged women were scammed out of billions of Rands took place through an online dating site. The perpetrators used social media pages and communications apps (such as WhatsApp) to run their scams portraying themselves as wealthy businessmen. They created very believable family orientated social media accounts and online dating profiles, including photo’s of their children.

These men then expertly use psychological tactics to entice the women into falling in love with them and into feeling a certain amount of dependency for them. It is an expert game that is played out in time to completely win over the trust of the victim before any requests are made,” confirms Kyle Condon, managing director of D&K Management Consultants.

By the time the scam plays out, intimate details have been shared and often love has been sworn. In some instances, actors or role-players are hired to meet the women in person or talk to them over the phone to further secure their trust. In other instances, the perpetrators do small favours for the victims such as sending nominal amounts of money as a gift or to assist, to further win them over.

The first step toward prevention is education. We want to create awareness within our worlds of who these criminals are and how they operate to help women fall prey to such crimes:

  • Never give our personal information.
  • If a profile looks suspicious, or “too good to be true”, report the profile and block the person.
  • You can avoid being caught by being overly cautious. Learn more about phishing trends – perpetrators are finding more ways to infiltrate your social media accounts.
  • Never respond to someone in a text or message asking you for private information. This is called “smishing” and a growing concern for women.
  • Change your passwords regularly, be cautious of pop ups and remember, safety first.
  • Not everyone out there wants to be your friend