Recently there has been a rumour circulating that some outfitters and hunters in South Africa fell victim to online scam. Unfortunately, the rumors seem to be true, and confirmed not only by personal communication, but also by warnings distributed by a number of South African banks.
It should be noted that no hunter who booked their hunt on BookYourHunt.com has fallen victim to this scam. The BookYourHunt.com team does everything to ensure the safety of the clients of our online marketplace. It has not yet been noticed outside South Africa either. Nevertheless, we feel you should be forewarned and forearmed.
How it happens
Cybercriminals use a number of different methods to part you and your money. Sometimes, they hack the outfitter’s mailbox, intercept the mail with the invoice, replace banking details to those leading to their account, and mail it to you.
Other schemes include getting access to your email account. You may not even know they’re there, because for a while they’ll only keep an eye on your activities. When they see you’re about to purchase a product or service – such as a hunt – they jump into action, intercept the email, change banking details to their own account, and mail it to you, from an email address that looks nearly indistinguishable from that of the outfitter.
Of course, if you transfer the money to the banking account indicated in the letter, the scammer will collect it and you’ll never see it again. Instead, you’ll spend many an unpleasant minute sorting it out with the outfitter, and arguing whose responsibility the loss is.
How to prevent it
The only reliable way is to ask to confirm the payment details by a different communication system – WhatsApp, Skype, the BookYourHunt.com chat, or, ideally, the old-fashioned phone call. If the details in the invoices received by email and through other sources differ, don’t pay the money!
If there’s anything about the Email with the banking information that looks strange – new font or formatting, it coming from a different address – pay attention and double-check. These things do happen for legit and natural causes – but are also first warning signs of a scam.
What to look for
Always pay attention to the sender address in the email – not the name on it but email address itself. There are two ways the scammers make their fake addresses appear genuine. The first is to create a similar address that differs from the original in just one symbol. For example, instead of “firstname.lastname@example.org“, they would scam you from “email@example.com” (with an extra ‘s’ symbol at the end of the domain name). If any part of the address differs from the trusted domain – it’s probably scam.
Some scammers use “spoofing”. They tweak their emails so that they seem to have a “good” “from” address (firstname.lastname@example.org), but the emails are sent from the scammer’s own email server. Modern mail systems understand it and mark such emails as dangerous. Gmail, for instance, usually places a question mark near the sender’s address with hint “message isn’t authenticated”. The tip here is to double-check if there are any such marks or notes near a sender’s address.
Take regular safety measures
These things should come to the modern person as naturally as brushing one’s teeth. Unfortunately, most of us are too busy to bother and need to be reminded. Change passwords on a regular basis. Don’t use the same password for a number of different resources. Resist the temptation to create something easy and memorable, use password generators to create passwords that are really hard to crack. It’s also a good idea to use different email addresses for communication and to register on websites and such.
In case of any doubt, contact the outfitter by a different communication system.
As mentioned above, you should verify banking information by using some other type of communication – a messenger such as WhatsApp or Telegram, a text message, or a good old-fashioned phone call. The BookYourHunt.com Chat works to this effect, too. You’re also welcome to contact the BookYourHunt.com Support team, we’re always there to help you!
Stay safe and have a great hunt!