Our Readers' Opinions
February 28, 2014

Scamming – Beware!

Fri Feb 28, 2014

by Financial Intelligence Unit

Individuals today should be ever-vigilant and mindful of the existence of scams in many shapes and forms. It is critical that you beware that scammers are improving in their level of sophistication. If uncertain whether any correspondence, message or alert is legitimate in nature, then seek advice and from law enforcement agencies, including the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).{{more}} Further information may be obtained on the FIU’s website www.svgfiu.com.

As with today’s money launderers and fraudsters, scammers are also becoming technologically savvy and utilize the Internet to conduct research on their victims. These scammers now do their homework and are aware of their target audiences. Scams now take the form of text and WhatsApp messages from international and unknown numbers.

A few years ago, the most common scams involved claims from persons residing in Nigeria and other African nations, hence the term ‘Nigerian scams’, where victims would receive an email with the ‘good news’ that they have won the lottery in that country or that a relative has passed away and left them a fortune. In order to receive their prize/inheritance would they please send their bank account number or wire some money via Western Union or Money Gram to a particular person.

Before succumbing to these claims, ask yourself these questions: Did you enter into a lottery sweepstake? Were you aware of this relative’s existence? Do you even have family in Africa?

Most recently, the scams have evolved to emails from current or former members of Government, who are offering unsuspecting victims an ‘investment opportunity unlike no other’.

Unfortunately, thousands of persons worldwide have fallen for these fraudulent claims and have unwittingly provided their banking information and sent large amounts of money via Western Union and Money Gram and other money remittance services worldwide.

The website www.scammers.net offer real-life examples of scams undertaken internationally, with articles posted by persons who have fallen prey to scam artists and their schemes. They range from online dating or romance scams to lottery scams, to ATM scams.

One victim wrote of her experience meeting a gentleman online on an internet dating site. She later found out he was a scammer, targetting single ladies, but not before sending him approximately US$17,000 through Western Union and Money Gram. He called her from different numbers and when she attempted to call him the number was never available.

Another victim received an email with instructions to choose one of three options to receive a $260 million ATM card for his personal use, as he had been chosen as a winner in a contest. Either option involved the victim sending over US$210 to the scammers for insurance fees and mailing. They asked for biographical data such as name, address, age and nationality. Once the scammers were certain that the victim would cooperate, he received instructions to send the funds to an individual in Nigeria.

Another victim recalled receiving a telephone call from a well-spoken gentleman, who sought to convince him to buy investments and asked him to share his financial details so he could help the victim earn money. The victim was asked to send the gentleman money to open an account, so that he can be assured of the victim’s keenness to invest. In fact, he was no investor, nor was there a company with which to invest and he promptly disappeared with the victim’s money. All information which he provided, such as websites and telephone numbers, were later found to be fake.

These examples are just a few of the various devious and nefarious schemes which exist and which seek to divest you of your hard-earned funds.

Scammers exist all around us and engage in their activities in the most unexpected and unwitting ways. Desist from engaging with scammers or would-be scammers and do not send funds to anyone whom you do not know, particularly via Western Union, Money Gram and other money remittance agencies. Do not give out your personal information, including biographical information and bank account information to anyone. Be aware and be careful!

Visit us at www.svgfiu.com for further information.