Dear students and colleagues
The week of 15 to 21 November is International Fraud Awareness Week, which is aimed at achieving widespread understanding and awareness on the subject of fraud. I am writing to inform you that a series of five videos on fraud awareness have been made to help develop knowledge and understanding of fraud in the University of Cape Town (UCT) community.
In South Africa, fraud is one of the biggest challenges that we face, and it is not only limited to government departments, state-owned enterprises and the private sector but also impacts higher education institutions. UCT has previously acted against incidents of fraud; disciplinary action has followed and, where guilt has been proven, funds were recovered from the responsible individuals. There are also recorded incidents in which employees responded to cyber phishing scams and had their salaries diverted to alternative banking accounts by fraudsters who tricked them into changing their banking details. Fraud is not only perpetrated against organisations but also targets individuals and society at large.
The UCT fraud microlearning programme is designed to have the strongest possible educational impact in the shortest possible time. We hope that each and every staff member and student will watch each video.
While the threat of fraud is a risk we need to be concerned about on an ongoing basis, current circumstances have heightened this risk. This is not only true for UCT as an organisation but also for each of us as individuals. A deteriorating economic environment with growing unemployment is inevitably associated with a rise in instances of fraud. Greater economic vulnerability increases the number of people likely to engage in fraud or syndicate scams and increases the numbers of those likely to fall victim to fraud.
Internal controls, including our policies and procedures, play a critical role in fraud mitigation. However, fraud schemes are constantly evolving, therefore ongoing fraud awareness campaigns are necessary. It is for this reason that we are in the process of reviewing the UCT Fraud and Corruption Prevention policy. We are also working on a fraud prevention plan that will be shared with the UCT community in 2021.
UCT is committed to a culture of ethical compliance, and the UCT whistle-blowing hotline plays an important role for staff, students and third parties who wish to inform the university of matters related to potential corruption and fraud. UCT has a dedicated whistle-blowing website, and the hotline number is 0800 650 000. The hotline is managed by an independent service provider, Whistle Blowers (Pty) Ltd, an important partner in our fraud awareness campaign.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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