DHA warns of social media crime syndicates, fixes 'technical glitch'

2017-12-21 08:42 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) warns that there are numerous fake social media accounts impersonating the department and scamming people for money. 

Minister of Home Affairs, Ayanda Dlodlo says the department has approached the Hawks to investigate what appears to be a criminal syndicate operating in social networks. 

According to Dlodlo, these impostors "create numerous fake accounts not just for misinformation and personal data compromise" - which are common on social media - but also to extort money from unsuspecting citizens on social media, "especially high profile personalities".

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About a week ago, according to the department, a fake account bearing the name of the Minister was created as a platform to solicit money through a "contract deal" to the amount of R25 million, whereby a member of the public is being asked for information to qualify for 50% of the transaction. Dlodlo warns the public to be vigilant against such cyber-criminal activity.

“The Minister of Home Affairs is not involved in any deal of the nature described in this fake correspondence, in addition, the Department of Home Affairs will also never ask people to pay money through social media for any of their services and anyone who comes across such requests should report these to the authorities,” she says.

“We have detected incidents of fake social media accounts attempting to solicit money from members of the public and we have reported this matter to the hawks for thorough investigation. We would also like to warn those who are involved in this illegal activity that the law will come hard on them."

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Added to that, Dlodlo emphasises that social media networks are critical platforms for information flow and exchange around the globe. 

"These are also dangerous hunting grounds for cyber criminals who are sparing no effort in using easy access to these networks for their nefarious deeds," she says. 

She urges that members of the public who want to access online services offered by the DHA to always verify their sources and platforms using the security mechanisms provided by the department.

“We would like to wish every South African a happy, safe and secure festive season but also warn them strongly to be alert against criminals who want to use these cyber networks to access their accounts illegally,” she adds.

Home Affairs fixes system to process passports, IDs

On Tuesday, 19 December, technical glitches in DHA’s National Identification System resulted in the slow turnaround time in some offices.

DHA says it has used its backup systems to ensure its offices are up and running to process passports and smart ID cards.

Acting Chief Information Officer, Thulani Mavuso says the problem related to the biometrics database. “We are currently using our backup system in order to run our offices. Everything is running smoothly in terms of the Live Capture System for passports and smart ID cards.

“We are monitoring the situation while we fix the main productions system. The department's technicians are currently replacing damaged equipment on the system. This only affects offices with the Live Capture System,” he says.

ALSO SEE: Home Affairs warns of 'technical issue' delays

Other services including births, marriages and deaths registration were not affected “because they are processed through the National Population Registrar System” says Mavuso.

The department apologies for any inconvenience caused and anticipates that the issue will be resolved soon, while continue using the back-up system until the Christmas rush subsides. It will then switch to the main production system next week.

“All offices are now up and running and we will continue monitoring all the offices,” adds Mavuso.

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