Johannesburg – An alarming new fraud scheme is blocking needy South Africans from receiving their R350 monthly relief grants, by illicitly changing their phone numbers.
Over one thousand grant beneficiaries have reported their cell numbers being secretly transferred to other SIM cards without authorization. This disconnects them from SASSA system notifications and payment links, automatically disabling their grants.
Once the recipient’s number is hijacked, the fraudsters then register it to apply for the welfare grants themselves, stealing the funds. Most victims only realize what happened when their grants suddenly stop arriving.
SASSA officials attribute the uptick in cases to the agency’s tighter verification controls. All beneficiaries now must confirm their identity via one-time-pins sent to their registered mobile numbers before payments are processed.
While enhanced safeguards aim to tackle grant abuse, sophisticated hackers are exploiting SIM swap fraud to bypass the security checks.
Authorities are grappling with how to clamp down on the identity theft-driven ploy targeting South Africa’s most economically vulnerable citizens. For now, affected individuals face a tedious, months-long struggle to reclaim their welfare payments.