Advisory against conmen pretending to be home affairs officers who are robbing homes
No such warning, the fake alert traced back to South African government advisory issued in 2017
An advisory, purportedly by the government, is doing the rounds on social media, sounding a “high security alert” against a group of robbers who are posing as “home affairs officers” to gain access into homes. According to the viral message, the imposters have documents and letterheads from the “Department of Home Affairs” and are taking photos/thumb impressions for an “Ayushman Bharat” scheme, under the pretext of which they are looting homes. The warning urges social media users to forward the warning to their friends and family, especially women.
We have received this claim on our Whatsapp tipline, too, requesting it to be fact-checked.
Newschecker noticed that the viral warning was not attributed to any official organisation or government body, raising our doubts on its authenticity. Also, we noticed that he message referred to the “Department of Home Affairs”, instead of Ministry of Home Affairs, indicating that the advisory was likely fake.
We then ran a keyword search for “ministry of home affairs warning imposters census”, which did not throw up any credible news reports of any advisory or an official government notice. However, we were led to this media statement from the government of South Africa, dated October 20, 2017, issued by their Department of Home Affairs. The media statement cautions citizens against a group of conmen, along the lines of the viral claim, ahead of the elections.
A relevant keyword search led us to this Times of India report, dated March 27, 2019. We learnt that the “advisory” had gone viral in 2018 and 2019, without the Ayushman Bharat bit.
We then ran a keyword search for “Ayushman Bharat advisory robbers”, which did not throw up any news reports of a data-theft fraud, centred around the government-run health insurance programme, following the modus operandi described in the viral advisory.
The TOI report, however, led us to a tweet from the South African Department of Home Affairs, warning against an elections scam in October 2017, while also stating that the fake advisory had gone viral in Singapore and Malaysia too.
A “high security alert” against a group of robbers who will enter your homes by posing as home affairs officers was found to be false and inspired by a South African government advisory issued in 2017.
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