FIU warns against fraudulent scams


The FIU is warning all citizens of the dangers of these scams which function solely for the purpose of  defrauding and stealing  money from innocent victims.

What is a fraudulent scam?
A fraudulent scam is a scheme devised by a criminal aimed at defrauding an individual of his/her funds by getting access to the personal bank details of the victim. Contact with the victim is made primarily by the use of e-mails on the internet or SMS texts on mobile phones. Such scams are commonly known as “419 Scams” or “Ghost Money Scams”. 

How they work
The victim usually receives a text message or an e-mail informing him/her of the following:
• You have won a cash prize in a promotion or draw held recently and that you have to contact the organisers to arrange for the delivery of the funds;

• That you have inherited a property or money in a foreign country and you have to contact the sender of the letter to arrange for transfer of the funds/property to your name. You will later be required to transfer a small amount of money to facilitate the transfer and this request might be repeated again and again;

• The person has a large amount of money (usually millions) that he wishes to transfer overseas but because of exchange restrictions is unable to do so. He therefore requires your assistance with the transfer and you will get a percentage (usually between 20 to 30 percent) of the total amount transferred.

They also use the names of international organisations like the World Bank, IMF, Central banks, etc, to add credibility to their scam and they often provide false details of Attorneys in an effort to bolster their credibility. 

The prize money or inheritance is usually of a substantial amount which immediately catches the victim’s attention. The documentation provided usually suggests that a credible institution (a Central Bank or an International firm) has issued the same and its aim is to make the victim believe that the scheme is genuine.

The criminals tend to use titles like Professors, Doctors, Generals, Lawyers, etc, to enforce the credibility of the scheme.

The criminals obtain the e-mail addresses or mobile phone numbers of their intended victims on the internet or telephone directory. The victims are then pressured to complete an application or other form which requires them to disclose their personal and banking details. The criminals usually request that any money transfers be done through Money Transfer Service Providers like Western Union or Money Gram as it is easier for them to collect the victim’s money and evade detection.      

Latest fraud scams in Seychelles
In the latest scam, the victim is informed that he/she is the lucky winner of the Nokia 2011 World Promotion held in Kristine Tad, Finland and that the person has won US $85,000. To collect your funds, you are required to complete the “Nokia Promo Claim Form” in which you give your banking details and your signature. The criminals give their contact address in Johannesburg, South Africa.

There are also cases where a number of Seychellois victims have accumulated losses in excess of over R500,000 having been conned into sending money abroad to pay fees and taxes due on an inheritance that had been supposedly left to them in an African country. The criminals provided details to the victims of a lawyer they should contact to finalise the various formalities which required the advance payment of fees in order to release the inheritance. The “Lawyer" was non-existent, even though convincing documents had been passed to the victim that suggested the “Lawyer” was a genuine person. There is NO HOPE of recovering any of the money stolen from victims through a scam of this nature.

What to do if you are contacted
If you receive an e-mail or SMS text with any of the offers indicated above, simply ignore or delete it.
You should never disclose your personal banking details (Account Number, Credit Card details), give your company letterhead or your signature as this will be utilised to remove all the money in your account.  

If you have been approached in this manner, you can write and inform the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), c/o Central Bank, P.O Box 701, Victoria and provide them with all known facts.

The FIU urges everyone to take great care of their personal details when dealing with financial matters, and has asked people to treat their financial details as secret and not to share them with strangers or via the internet. If you have never participated in any lottery or do not have any known relatives who have passed away overseas, simply ignore any messages by e-mail or text as this is an attempt to steal from you and some victims have lost their life savings.

Contributed by the Financial Intelligence Unit

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