Be careful of this scam

Ed… a member of the counselling division brought the following scam to the attention of the SAACP exco. The text was altered slightly to protect the identity of the member but the just of the email remains in tact. 

A counselling psychologist in Private Practice was recently  contacted, via e-mail, by a person requiring trauma counselling for family members who were victims of an armed robbery on a farm. The mail said that his/her details were found on the PsySSA website. An appointment was scheduled (all via e-mail) and a request for banking details was made in order to make an upfront EFT payment. The therapist could obviously not provide an invoice but did provide banking details with a summary of fees charged. Shortly thereafter he/she received an email with proof of payment. When comparing the POP it appeared legitimate, however, some concern was noted as the email did not originate from the bank but rather was sent as an attachment. This, along with the fact that there was a significant discrepancy between the charged fees and the proof of payment amount of R22 110 made the psychologist suspicious. It also was a concern that the deposit referred to a cheque deposit and not an EFT payment.

The prospective client then called to confirm whether or not the proof of payment had been received. Once this had been clarified the ‘client’ noted the mistake and requested a reimbursement from the psychologist. Given the risks associated with online transactions he/she was amenable to refunding only once the payment was cleared in their bank account. The caller then said he would get his bank manager involved which was welcomed. While this played out the original appointment was still standing as confirmed and a text reminder was sent. The psychologist also noted that he/she did not hear back from the client by the end of business he/she would assume the overpayment was a scam and release that appointment time to someone who genuinely required it. Needless to say, the cheque bounced and no one turned up for the appointment.

I am sharing this with you to warn other PsySSA members that the appeal for trauma counselling was very convincing, made especially so given it was referenced that the details were found on the PsySSA website and to advise those of us in Private Practice to be cautious with any ‘overpayment’ please.  



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