A tourist has spoken out over an unfortunate ending to her and her husbands trip to Cape Town. Although this particular incident has made headlines there are still many people who fall victim to this exact scam every day in South Africa.
We’ve just returned from an amazing trip to South Africa (Sabi Sands and Cape Town), but the end of our trip was marred by an unfortunate incident at the ATM. We were on our way to Table Mountain when I hopped off the taxi to get some cash from an ATM. It was bright daylight out, and there were many people on the street. While I was getting my cash, a man came very close to the machine and was “helping me” with the ATM, even though I did not solicit his help and in fact asked him very nicely to move away. However, he must have done something while he was standing nearby because while I got my ATM card back, I checked my account a few hours later and saw that somebody had taken out almost $1000 in cash in 5 different withdraws at an ATM location I hadn’t even been to! I immediately canceled my card and am now helping my bank investigate this incident.
Apparently this happens quite often in South Africa, which is a pity because everyone we met there was so friendly and helpful. In fact, I was feeling guilty about being suspicious because he seemed like he was just being kind and wanting to help. I lived in NY for 4 years and have traveled to many other parts of the world (Spain, India, Argentina, etc) so I am an extremely cautious traveler, but in this case, I had let my guard down because of the seeming sincerity and spontaneity of the person.
I’m posting this online so that others traveling to Cape Town or South Africa are aware of how prevalent this kind of ATM scam is!