Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 12th 2015 Contents A16
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt April 12, 2015
Making a leap to the Remarkable
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In two years, people living in T&T lost over $2
million to lottery scams.
A lottery scam is a type of advance fee fraud, a
rising type of crime targetting Internet users around
T&T s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has pub-
lished advisories on several such financial scams,
namely "e-mail hijacking," advance fee fraud and
"conference scams," in order to assist the public in
identifying the activity so as to reduce monetary loss
and emotional harm, which the victims suffer.
In fact, just recently the FIU issued a warning to
be on the lookout for false and misleading information
being circulated by people claiming to be FIU agents,
after it was brought to the body s attention by people
who had been contacted by the con artists. According
to the FIU, these people may present bogus letters,
e-mails, text messages or faxed documents purporting
to be issued by the FIU.
"The FIU wishes to make it clear that it does not
charge fees for services, issue clearance certificates
or seize assets of any kind; does not communicate
via text messages or social media e.g. Facebook and
Twitter and requests no fees. Clearance certificates
or similar invoices made in the name of or on behalf
of the FIU are false," a release stated.
While financial scams take many forms, the focus
here, according to FIU public affairs officer Heather
Baldwin-McDowell, is on the advance fee fraud, oth-
erwise called the "419" or "Nigerian scam."
"The common theme is a notification or invitation
to take up an offer with the promise of significant
sums of money or other reward. The intention is to
persuade the intended victim to part with his money
in the expectation of receiving a large future monetary
gain or other benefit," Baldwin-McDowell told the
She said although the vast majority of recipients do
not respond to the communication, a small percentage
do, but as many millions of messages can be sent daily
using technology it makes the scam worthwhile.
"As well, often persons are too embarrassed or too
ashamed to admit that they were gullible, so they
fail to report the fraud," she said.
In the past two years, during the period October
2012 to Sept 2014, the FIU received 17 reports of
advance fee fraud. Baldwin-McDowell explained,
"These scams have induced citizens of T&T to
wire/mail/transfer thousands of dollars of their savings
to persons they do not know to claim large fortunes,
lottery winnings, or inheritance. "
The reports reflect that scammers/fraudsters have
requested sums as low as $5,000 to as much as
$400,000 (TT dollars) at a time.
"Anyone can be a target," she added.
The scam usually begins with a letter, e-mail, fax,
text, phone call or on social network sites seeking
contact with the potential victims. The fraudster
may impersonate a known person or organisation
which exists, or may create a fictitious person or
The intended victim is made to believe they were
a selected recipient although the same communication
is sent to thousands of intended victims. The subject
line of an e-mail or message may read, "You are a
winner;" "Dear conference invitee;" "Attention (your
name) Beneficiary;" "My dear friend;" "From the desk
of Barrister (name)" or "Your assistance is needed."
Asked by the Sunday Guardian if the T&T Police
Service had launched an official investigation and if
there were any people of interest thus far, Baldwin-
McDowell replied, "By law the FIU is not allowed to
disclose this information or make any comment on
this question. Refer to section 22 (1) of the Financial
Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago Act Chap
72:01." Continues on Page A17
FIU now target
Public duped of $2m through Internet fraud
puts the finishing
touches to the
face of this girl
during the Ciao
Easter Brunch at
provided free face
painting to all the
children on hand
as an Easter treat.
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