‘Interpol scam’ hits Cayman

Scammers usually come up with some creative ways to ask you for your bank account numbers, credit cards, money etc.

But what about scammers who ask to protect you from other rip-off artists?

In the latest get-rich-quick scheme to hit the Cayman Islands, an e-mail claiming to from an Interpol inspector seeks to inform recipients that they are ‘among the list’ of people who have fallen victim to a scam in an unnamed West African country.

‘They are the people that told you series of sweet, good stories and you believe them, not knowing they are some sort of scam artist,’ an e-mail obtained by the Caymanian Compass reads. ‘We have seized the properties of these men that were on the run, and have submitted their properties to government for auction sales to enable us recover your fund through it.’

The e-mail even includes a name and a phone number to contact, and asks recipients to respond as soon as possible.

Other than the poor command of the English language by someone claiming to be from Interpol, investigators said the phrase ‘recover your fund’ gives these scammers away.

‘In this case, it’s likely that after a brief exchange of emails the scammers will claim that some fees need to be paid to release the rest of the funds,’ RCIPS Press Officer Deborah Denis said. ‘Once the fees have been paid the victim will never hear from the scammers again.

‘This type of scam is known as the ‘advance-fee fraud’ in which the target is persuaded to advance money in the hope of realizing a significantly larger gain. In many cases it’s not immediately obvious how the scam will work, but if you engage in communication with the scammers, it will soon become clear.’

Police said a number of other scams continue to be active in the Cayman Islands and urged them to beware of the following:

The ‘cry for help’ email – Con artists hack into people’s email accounts and send a message to all contacts claiming to be the account holder and stating that they are in trouble overseas. The email asks all recipients to send cash to a money transfer account in another country. The account holder is not in any trouble and the money will be picked up by the con artists.

The ‘job offer’ scam – Residents are contacted by email or an advert is placed in local classifieds advertising a well-paid job with very good benefits or a part time opportunity which would reap high financial returns. The unsuspecting job seeker will engage in communication with the scammer who will then likely send some form of pre-payment or over-payment to the employee in the form of a cheque. The employer will then request the money back for a ‘family emergency’ fairly rapidly. The victim is then forced to send some of their own money before the cheque has cleared. The cheque then bounces and the employer is never heard from again. This scam can also be used to obtain people’s personal details which can be used for identity theft.

The business opportunity – You may receive communication from someone proposing to be a public official offering an opportunity to be involved in a large commercial venture. The offer involves very large financial returns and requires the victim to finance a portion of the contract up-front. The cash will be requested via a money transfer agency and will be for tasks such as legal fees, registration costs, project fees etc.

The inheritance scam – This scam involves people receiving emails claiming that someone has died and there is an inheritance or estate to collect. Recently, emails have been circulating pertaining to be from the FBI informing the recipient that there is money they can legally collect from either a death or a lottery. The FBI has confirmed that this is a hoax and anyone who receives it should not respond.

Password and user name – Residents have reported receiving emails, either claiming to be from their account provider or a company that monitors mailbox size, requesting the account holder’s username and password. Genuine email account providers would never ask for this information and residents should remember to NEVER give out personal details or passwords to an unknown third party.

The ‘overpayment’ scam – Businesses are targeted by potential customers often making large or lucrative purchases or bookings. The ‘customer’ will request that extra payments are made on a credit card to pay for ‘agent fees’, ‘shipping costs’ or ‘air fare’. The card details given are false.

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