Wonga SA explains the difference between fishing and phishing

They might both sound the same, but the people at Wonga  are making it their business to highlight the difference between fishing and phishing. They might sound the same when pronounced, but apart from the difference in how they are spelt, the meaning behind the two is different, although there is a common theme.

Wonga themelves became the target of fraudsters when they pretended to be us and mounted a phishing campaign by both email and SMS, designed to catch unwary people searching for loan.

What is the difference?

Wonga SA explains

Fishing is the business of catching fish. Traditionally fishing with an “f” is done using a fishing rod, line and baited hook. Phishing with a “p” is the electronic crime version. Instead of a rod and line it uses a computer and the internet, and instead of bait (which in fishing with an “f” is either live bait like maggots or worms, or dead bait like bread or man-made lures), it uses an email or SMS message.

Fishing with an “f” entices fish to take the bait, while phishing with a “p” lures human victims to impart personal information and extort money.

On the surface it all sounds pretty obvious and you might be forgiven for thinking that you could spot a phishing email or SMS very easily. However, unfortunately, it is not necessarily the case. If you take a quick glance at the image below you can see what we mean.

Phoney SMS example

Phoney SMS example

This is an image of a typical phoney SMS message. It contains an apparently legitimate link which at first glance, looks to all intents and purposes like the real thing as it contains “Wonga” in the email address. For those who are not Internet savvy, this may well be enough to convince them that the message is indeed from Wonga. It’s only when you read the full address that you can see that it does not link back to Wonga’s website, but to a vague outlook address.

But the fact of the matter is that Wonga (and indeed most other responsible and reputable organisations) will never tout for business by sending out what are referred to as, unsolicited correspondence; whether that correspondence is an SMS or an email. By unsolicited we mean anything that you either haven’t requested or agreed to in advance.

These scammers are preying on people who are in need of cash. By pretending to offer victims what they want at unrealistically low interest rates they are hooking and reeling people in. They will then ask victims for money upfront by way of set-up fees and other fictitious costs. Of course you’ll never see this money back again and you won’t get your loan either.

Wonga provides new fraud hotline

Since Wonga became aware that along with many other legitimate financial institutions such as Standard Bank, Absa, and FNB, were being targeted by cyber criminals, they’ve been proactively warning people about the possibility of being caught in a phishing scam, they’ve additionally posted a PSA on their site advertising  a new fraud hotline service, whereby they’ll take the details of any scams people come across and refer them to the appropriate authorities to get them closed down. So, if you do spot what you think might be a scam, please call the fraud hotline on 0861-966-424 or email at za.fraud@wonga.com

About the author  ⁄ Jon L. Ratcliff

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