Scam alert! Here’s how to avoid new scam targeting first-time R350 Sassa grant applicants

The SA Social Security Agency warns of a scam doing the rounds.
The SA Social Security Agency warns of a scam doing the rounds.
Image: South African Government via Twitter

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has debunked a message claiming that the agency had increased the Covid-19 social relief grant to target first-time applicants, saying it is “fake news”.

The WhatsApp message was shared on social media platforms, leading some people to believe that the R350 social relief of distress grant was being increased to R3,500.

“More than three million South Africans will receive the R3,500 for a period of six months. First-time applicants receive payments within 24 hours after approval ... takes only few seconds to apply,” read the message.

The agency urged social media users to not share or access the link provided.

Sassa said the R350 grant can only be claimed online and warned that completing an application in-person was fraudulent.

The grant was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year April, near the start of the pandemic. It was meant for unemployed citizens and qualifying foreign citizens.

“Applications for the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant are only electronic. Do not visit Sassa offices to apply for this grant. If you need assistance to apply, Sassa staff and appointed volunteers can assist,” said the agency.

Sassa said the agency does not require any applicant to scan in supporting documents such as ID, proof of address or bank statements.

“By lodging an application, applicants give consent for Sassa to validate the financial and other information against data sources held by government and financial institutions — including SA Revenue Service and banks,” said Sassa.

Since the start of the pandemic, the social relief programme has been hit by scammers who circulate fake communication.

Last year, Sassa warned the public about a fake e-mail doing the rounds in which an “official” calls for people to contact its offices regarding a tender for the three-year supply of food parcels in the Free State.

The fake correspondence was being sent in the name of Sassa regional executive manager Themba Matlou.

Sassa spokesperson Sandy Godlwana told TimesLIVE that the agency was concerned that members of the public “will find themselves having to pay money with the hope that they will get the tender, where this is fake and a scam”.

“The agency warns all bidders against this scam and any other bid where people purport to take money claiming they are from Sassa,” he said.

“The social relief programme is intended to assist to meet basic needs of indigent people by means of rendering temporary and immediate material assistance in response to a crisis.

“We are working around the clock to ensure that suitable service providers are appointed in line with Sassa supply chain prescripts.”

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