by Linda Straker
- Estimated EC$10 million defrauded by online financial scams
- Scammers use different formats to attract persons
- Online financial scams are cross border crimes, with little or no hope of recovery
Tafawa Pierre, Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has disclosed that millions of hard-earned dollars are leaving the country without the owners getting anything in return, because some Grenadians are being duped by online financial scams.
Urging persons to be extremely cautious about accepting online financial initiatives, Pierre said that persons should contact the FIU who will assist in determining a final decision to continue communicating with the original sender of the message.
Pierre said that a few years ago, he estimated that the country was losing about EC$7 million, but there is every indication that the figure has increased.
“It’s now about EC$10 million they are defrauded. We have two particular persons who each lost in excess of EC$1.5 million that was sent over a one-year period. We have a situation where a lady sold her house, right in Grenada here and sent every penny out to people whom she never met in the pursuit of some loan or business,” he said.
“If you are going to send such an amount of money then hire somebody to look after your business. You can spend EC$100,000 less by paying it to an attorney who will look into this thing and see if it’s true,” Pierre advised.
He said that the scammers are using different formats to attract persons and innovative ways for the illegal business to strive. These include forex market, offering grant funding from an agency — but to receive the grant some money must be sent — and fake cheque deposit.
“What we have done is try to speak to the institutions to make it difficult, but the people are using all sort of innovative ways to try to get institutions to function. What they are actually doing is making the system harder for decent people because after you get burned a few times the banks will get very strict on sending money,” Pierre said.
“Imagine people receive a cheque in the mail — these days a cheque in the mail should be viewed as suspect because you have wire transfer, money remittance — so any paper cheque in the mail should be viewed with high suspicion,” he advised.
Sharing more details about the fake cheque scam, Pierre said, “People take this cheque and deposit it on their account and before the cheque is cleared, remove their own money and send to people they have never met. Well let me tell you, I have news for you, you have no money to get and you have to repay the bank,” he said.
Within the past few months, there are people in Grenada who were seriously defrauded and because they are cross border crimes, there is little or no hope of recovery.