Don’t fall victim to new coronavirus cash scam, warns SARB_1

On Monday 16 March, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) made members of the public aware of a new scam involving the coronavirus. 


According SARB, criminals are now going to people’s houses, telling them to hand over their money, as it is contaminated with the coronavirus. 


“Do not hand over cash to anyone claiming that it is contaminated with COVID-19,” said SARB.  

SARB says it is not withdrawing banknotes and coins due to coronavirus 


The SARB says it has been made aware of fake news that involves a scam claiming that it is “recalling” money from the public. 


It is believed that criminal elements are visiting the homes of members of the public telling them to hand over banknotes in their possession because the banknotes have been contaminated with the coronavirus. 


“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. The SARB has neither withdrawn any banknotes or coins nor issued any instruction to hand in banknotes or coins that may be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus,” it said. 


The SARB said it 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. 


The SARB said there is currently no evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through the use of banknotes and coins. 


“The SARB continues to encourage members of the public to follow basic hygiene practice and clean their hands often,” it added. 

Can it be transmitted through cash? 


According to Market Watch, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed they did not say coronavirus could be transmitted through cash. 


“We did NOT say that cash was transmitting coronavirus,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told MarketWatch.


“We were misrepresented,” she added.


The spokeswoman sought to clarify comments in a widely cited article in the UK media reporting that the WHO had said “banknotes may be spreading the new coronavirus” and “customers should wash their hands after touching banknotes because infectious Covid-19 may cling to the surface for a number of days.”


The report in the British media said the WHO had suggested customers use contactless payments instead.


“WHO did NOT say banknotes would transmit COVID-19, nor have we issued any warnings or statements about this,” she said. 


“We were asked if we thought banknotes could transmit COVID-19 and we said you should wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food,” she added.