The fast-spreading coronavirus is also proving to be the perfect breeding ground for fraudsters seeking to profit from the situation. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) warned the public last 16 March 26, 2020 against scammers ‘recalling cash contaminated with the COVID-19 virus’.
Beware of Scammers
The bank was made aware of fake news that involved a scam where criminals were visiting the homes of members of the public, telling them to hand over their ‘contaminated’ banknotes. “These criminal elements carry fake SARB identification and provide false receipts in lieu of the banknotes ‘collected’ which they purport can be collected from any of the banks.” says reports.
The bank has made it clear in its media statement that it has not withdrawn any banknotes nor coins or issued any instruction to hand in banknotes or coins that may be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus. The SARB will NOT, under any circumstances, send employees or representatives to collect cash from the public. If members of the public are approached by individuals purporting to be SARB employees or representatives, to hand in their cash, they should refuse and contact local police, it said.
As cases increases, so does crime
South Africa’s number of confirmed cases jumped to 709 this week. As the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise across the world, so are the number of illegal and criminal activities taking advantage of the situation.
Banknotes and coins do not pose a particular risk of infection for the public
Some media and agencies have suspected banknotes and coins for contributing to transmit the disease. Several central banks have spoken out, indicating that the risk of picking up the coronavirus via cash is extremely minimal. Moreover, retailers should continue to accept cash to keep the economy going and to ensure that young, elderly, poor, disabled or financially excluded people are able to practice purchasing power.