South African mobile operator, MTN, and one of the country’s top four bank’s, ABSA, have collaborated to form a task team whose main aim will be to combat the increasing number of ‘SIM Swap’ fraud cases in the country.

The formation of this task team was a result of an urgent meeting between both organisation’s executives to discuss the increase in the number of SIM Swap fraud cases affecting both their customers in South Africa.

SIM Swap fraud is an elaborate scam which starts with a potential victim disclosing their mobile or internet banking logon details along with their mobile number by responding to a phishing e-mail.

Once the scammers have this data they then pose as the victim by presenting fraudulent identity and proof of address documentation to a mobile operator requesting a new SIM card. Once a new “SIM Swap” is done, with the victim’s current SIM card cancelled, the scammers are now able to receive by SMS the victim’s “One Time Pin” in order to effect payments from their bank account.

SIM Swap fraud has mainly affected retail banking customers with ABSA and MTN customers being the most scammed. Some customers have been reported to have lost up to approximately 30,000 euros in some SIM Swap fraud cases in South Africa.

The newly appointed task team will start with implementing an “improved authentication process” to protect MTN customers when carrying out a SIM Swap, as announced on Friday.

Eddie Moyce, MTN chief customer experience officer said “Protecting our customers means tightening up our systems development to both improve security and service delivery,”

ABSA’s Head of Digital Channels and Payments, Adrian Vermooten added that they take this type of fraud seriously and have started to work with other organisations to combat it. He said “We are working tirelessly with MTN and the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) to ensure that the systems and security are comprehensive and robust. Collaborating with MTN on reaching a joint solution has allowed us to tighten the screws on this method of eCrime,”

Recently in May 2013 the South African police with the help of MTN’s forensic services were reported to have arrested a key suspect who played an important role in the rising SIM Swap fraud cases in the country. This is hoped will go a long way in minimising or even eradicating cases of SIM Swap fraud.