Consumer fraud up by 373%

There has been a staggering 373.3% increase in incidences of consumer fraud, but less than 30% of the victims say they reported it to the police.

This according to the annual report released by Statistics SA, on Tuesday, which looked at victims of crime.

The survey – based on 19 655 households, with a 29 231 sample size – was targeted at all private households. It is the second half of the survey on Governance, Public Safety and Justice – the first half, released last month, looked at governance.

Consumer fraud happens when someone provides services or goods and cheats on quality or quantity.

It includes advance-fee fraud such as the R99 debit/credit card scam, 419 scams and online shopping.

Solly Molayi, the acting chief director of social statistics, who compiled the report, said they had seen a significant increase in consumer fraud.

A total of 1.4 million incidents were recorded by Stats SA in 2019/20, but only 26% had been reported to the police. The number increased from 497 000 incidents in 2018/19.

“What we have noticed that what has increased is consumer fraud, it has seen a significant increase and this is because of scams such as the R99 scams, where R99 is debit by an unknown debitor as well as online shopping and credit card scams,” noted Molayi.

He added although there was an increase in how safe people felt walking in their neighbourhoods, there was still a large number of women who did not feel safe.

Molayi indicated although their statistics complement the annual crime statistics released by the police, theirs differed because they were able to provide insight on how people felt about crime, their specific interactions with it as well as collect data from those who did not report the crime

Andrew Faull, a senior researcher at the Institute for Safety Governance and Criminology at UCT and member of the Institute for Security Studies, said the country was fortunate to have both perspectives and the victims of crime statistics offered a different view.

“Crime data offers a very limited window to crime in the country because people don’t always report crimes,” he added. -Citizen