With the number in vehicle thefts and hijackings increasing across South Africa, an alarming new trend has emerged involving scams directed at the victims of recent vehicle thefts/hijackings. This according to Hugo van der Merwe, National Manager: Assessing at MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says that the company has already seen multiple instances where policyholders have been targeted by fraudsters following the theft or hijacking of their insured vehicle.
“Shortly after reporting a stolen or hijacked vehicle to the South African Police Services, a number of policyholders stated that they were contacted by individuals posing as police officers. In each of these cases, the fraudster informs the policyholder that their stolen or hijacked vehicle had been recovered in a different province or even in a neighbouring country. The policyholder is then informed that they need to pay fees via electronic funds transfer (EFT) or an electronic wallet in order to have their vehicle returned to them.”
Van der Merwe warns that this is not regular police procedure and that individuals should under no circumstances pay these or any other types of fees if they are contacted after a vehicle theft or hijacking. “These instances have been brought to the attention of the South African Police Service and are being investigated as a matter of urgency. However, if a policyholder is still unsure about whether they are expected to pay any fees, they should first contact their broker or the Commander of the police station where they originally reported the theft or hijacking of their vehicle to confirm.”
He adds that it is vital for all consumers to stay alert, especially if they are the victim of a recent vehicle theft or hijacking. “All policyholders should be vigilant and not fall into the trap of such scammers. Always remember that if an insured vehicle is in fact recovered, the policyholder will be informed by their respective investigating officer. They will also never be asked to pay additional recovery fees,” Van der Merwe concludes.