Advance Fee Frauds target the Vulnerable

05/03/2020 16:24

Consumers are urged to be on high alert as the number of advanced fee fraud is on the rise inFiji, targeting the most vulnerable members of our society.

It has been noted the numerousFijians have fallen prey to a new type of scam whereby they have lost thousands of dollars.These victims, majority being women, had received a “courier package alert” from an unknown courier company through social media networks or Instant Messaging (IM)applications such as Facebook, Messenger and Viber.

The alert advised the victims that a parcel addressed to them is pending delivery which however, requires them to pay a fee for clearance. In most instances, the victims without thinking have blindly deposited the funds in order toobtain the parcel. One such case involved an individual paying a total of $8,200 in two separate bank accounts. According to Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), since November 2019, they are investigating seven local bank accounts that were used in this scam, involving more than 70 deposit transactions totalling to an astonishing figure of $158,456.09. The Council Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Shandil said, “this is a serious issue as vulnerable consumers lose out on their hard-earned money therefore consumers need to verify the authenticity of the bank accounts before they make any payments to avoid getting duped by the cheaters. We are urging consumers to treat messages/alerts received through unknownsource with caution”.

What is Advance fee Fraud?

“Advance fee Fraud is the solicitation of a small advance or upfront payment for goods,services or financial gain by the victim that promises a significant reward that nevermaterializes,” said the CEO.

“Once a consumer has handed their money over to these criminals,there is really nothing that can be done, which is why it is so important that consumers knowhow to identify and avoid scams before they become victims”.

The end goal for fraudsters is to get money and so they carefully select their targets who theybelieve will be eager to pay them.

In these situations, consumers are advised to protect themselves and refrain from making any cash transactions. Consumers can also avoid beingtricked by taking heed of the tips below:

Never send money or share credit card details, online account details or copies ofpersonal documents with strangers;

 Never send a stranger an up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, internationalfunds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency; Do not agree to transfer money on behalf of someone else. This falls under the crimeof money laundering;

 Do some research. Enter the names, contact details or exact wording of the letter/emailinto a search engine to check for any references to a scam; and

 If you suspect it might be a scam, don’t fall into the trap of getting into ongoingcorrespondence. It’s better to ignore the message than being manipulated by thescammer.

Consumers are urged to contact either the Council on toll free number 155 or the Financial Intelligence Unit to communicate their concerns or seek further advice on advance fee fraud, should they have any.