Be Aware of Cellphone Snatching

You may have seen videos on social media or television about cell phone snatching.

A typical scenario involves a person walking in the street or sitting at a restaurant when their cell phone is snatched. The criminal runs off and climbs into a waiting car which then speeds away.

We often assume that cellphone theft is about the fraudsters wanting to take the expensive cellphone.

The real reason is more serious – they want to get into bank accounts through the banking app.

With some technical know-how and social engineering, they hack cellphones and banking apps to transfer money to accounts they control.

“Criminals typically snatch your phone while you are busy on it and the phone is unlocked, giving them full access to everything on your cell phone.

This includes banking apps, delivery services, and any other personal information that can be used for fraud, such as a copy of your ID, bank statements, proof of residence in addition to full access to your e-mail and SIM card.

Even if you have security measures in place, such as fingerprint readers or facial recognition software, criminals can bypass these measures in seconds, gain access to your information and then make your phone disappear on the illicit cell phone market.”  Ann Cloete from

Aon South Africa.

What you should know

• The banking apps themselves are secure and have not been compromised in any way.
• Many devices store usernames and passwords and users are not aware of this.
• Blocking a stolen phone and SIM on the cellular network will not prevent the fraudsters from using the device (remember cellphone apps just need Wi-Fi to work).
• Weak usernames and passwords or patterns contribute to fraudsters accessing the device.
• Don’t click on a phishing link that is sent to your cell number once you get a new SIM (see the screenshot for an example of this type of phishing).

What to do if your phone is snatched

First – don’t resist, the person might have a weapon and your phone is not more valuable than your life.

In the event that your mobile phone is lost or stolen, borrow a phone and contact your bank immediately so that they can deactivate your banking app, block cards on other apps containing your bank card details, and block your bank account.

Make sure you always have your bank’s hotline number stored somewhere other than on your mobile phone.

If you have activated the ‘Find My iPhone’ or ‘Find my Device’ facility from the web to locate or wipe your device, be aware that fraudsters may attempt to Vish, SMish, or Phish you.

If you receive an email or SMS after doing this, don’t click on any links as these are not safe.

Mums have you had this happen to you or someone you know?

Comment below to share your story

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13 thoughts on “Be Aware of Cellphone Snatching

  1. mbokanezg says:

    There’s no one that I know you ever been the victim of snatched, but this article has taught me so much now I would know what to do, if it happens I find myself in that situation. A very insightful article.