United States Secret Service Agent Paul Adie passed out a stack of counterfeit U.S. bills to a roomful of bankers, businesspeople, and government employees Wednesday at the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.
“I want you to feel these bills, and feel how they’re different than a real bill,” Mr. Adie said of the money, which his agency confiscated from fraudsters over the years.
“Counterfeit bills are usually smoother.”
Mr. Adie was one of several speakers at the annual Fraud Prevention Seminar, which provides training to industry professionals on how to spot counterfeit currency, protect customer data, and guard against other types of fraud.
Along with advising people on how to spot counterfeit U.S. currency, the Secret Service agent also provided a primer on email-related scams.
Online fraudsters are also becoming more sophisticated, evolving from the “Nigerian prince” scam to more targeted forms of identity theft, Mr. Adie said.
Current tactics include phishing attacks, where scammers will send out emails requesting personal information; “spear-phishing,” which is a more targeted version of phishing that entails a scammer imitating a business and sending emails to that institution’s customers; and “whaling,” an even more targeted scheme where scammers imitate a company executive and send internal emails to the company’s employees.
Mr. Adie said he has seen businesses lose as little as $20,000 and as much as $46 million from such scams.
To protect against becoming a victim, people should have anti-virus software on the computers, regularly update their operating systems, and pay close attention to the emails they receive, he advised.
Credit card fraud was another major topic at the seminar, which was co-hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
Bruce Sigsworth, who works in fraud prevention at CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, said that businesses and customers alike should be using new “chip-and-PIN” credit and debit cards. While the old cards had their info contained in magnetic strips – which were easy to steal and duplicate – the chips generate a transaction code only eligible for a single transaction.
Mr. Sigsworth said that those who have adopted the chip-and-PIN system have seen a marked drop in fraud.
However, “If you take your chip and PIN to a business and they manually input the numbers instead of using the chip, that is a weak, weak, weak transaction,” he said. “It’s only secure if you use it properly.”
Mr. Adie said that taking enhanced anti-fraud measures is becoming increasingly important because cybercrimes are on the rise for multiple reasons, including the fact that they can be perpetrated from different jurisdictions, and that there is a low-risk, high-reward element to them.
“You get a lot of money and it’s difficult to be prosecuted, as opposed to robbing a liquor store and risking 20 years in prison to get $20,” he said.