Police warning to Vincentians: beware online financial scams
May 24, 2024

Police warning to Vincentians: beware online financial scams

Romance scams using a fake identity and can also include blackmail has been identified as one of the most popular forms of online scams globally and the trend is rearing its head in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

This form of catfishing, as well as phishing attacks, has been identified among emerging trends  by local law enforcement as affecting Vincentians.

Catfishing refers to the process of luring an individual into a relationship using a fictional online persona. Once a relationship has been established, the catfish usually seeks to extract money from the unsuspecting victim, either by lying or by threatening to release sensitive material from the victim online.

Phishing attacks work by luring a victim with what appears to be legitimate-looking emails and messages which are actually fraudulent, and victims are coaxed into providing confidential information on what is designed to appear as a real website.

Sergeant, Syon Shoy with the Information Technology Unit of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF), said these two types of online financial scams in particular are being drawn to the attention of the police.

“Persons might come in twice a month in relation to those [offences]. We have the regular cyber related offences that we deal with like violation of privacy, cyberbullying and libel.”

He said that efforts to raise awareness about the potential of being lured into scams of these kinds are ongoing.

He cautioned members of the public to utilize the PlayStore to download all mobile apps, and not make use of third party websites, in order to avoid becoming a victim of phishing attacks.

He disclosed that the demographic that is falling victim to the online financial scams are usually older persons in the late 40’s to 50’s.

The 2016 Cyber Crime Act addresses the offence of identity-related crimes. Under the legislation, a person can be prosecuted for using an identity other than his own with the intent of committing an unlawful act through the use of a computer system, and if found guilty, can be fined up to $200,000 or imprisoned for a period of three years.