Christmas Fraud Warning
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is urging members of the public and the business community to beware of fraudsters in the run up to the Christmas season.
Chief Inspector Henderson Hunte of the Financial Crime Unit (FCU) said, "Scams which prey on people’s good nature are extremely prevalent during this time of the year and members of the community are warned to be on their guard at all times."
Scams come in many forms, the most common of which include the following.
The Lottery Scam
The victim receives an email stating that they have won millions of dollars, often as a result of a computerized ballot system. Individuals are instructed to pay money before they can collect their winnings. The money will be requested via money transfer agencies, such as Western Union, and will purportedly be for registration, tax, customs fees, etc.
Hoax SMS Message
A hoax SMS message is currently being circulated which reads:
"CONGRATULATIONS! Your mobile number has won the sum of £250,000.00 GBP on this year NOKIA PROMO. For claims call: +2348032764530. Or Email us: email@example.com Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from Cable & Wireless bMobile."
The email address given as a point of contact for information is not valid. The telephone number is also invalid with callers getting a busy signal when they call.
"LIME would like to advise customers not to respond to this as it is mobile phone SPAM, effectively an unsolicited bulk message that has been sent to potentially thousands of our customers. We did not authorize or send this message, it is a hoax," said Tony Ritch, LIME Country Manager. "We also want to let the public know that we will do every thing we can in such instances to identify those responsible and report them to the relevant authorities as well."
IRS Request for Rectification of Foreign Status
Individuals will get a letter and form via email, supposedly from the USA’s Internal Revenue Service, requesting personal information, including bank account details and social security numbers. Please note that these are not IRS forms. The IRS does not ask for this kind of information and does not correspond via e-mail.
Fraudsters offer puppies for sale over the internet or in the local press, often using a yahoo or similar email account as the only point of contact. The fraudster will request funds to have the puppy shipped with an additional fee to have it delivered to your door. Once they have your money you will not hear from them again and you will not get a puppy.
Credit Card Fraud
This involves businesses being contacted by overseas companies wishing to purchase goods or services. The orders are often higher than those normally dealt with and could be viewed as a windfall for the victim business. These scams often occur in the form of businesses with conference facilities being asked to facilitate a conference or seminar. A credit card is used to pay the bill and soon after the fraudster will cancel the booking and request that the refund be sent in cash via money transfer.
Although there has been a lull in the appearance of fraudulent traveller’s cheques over the past four months, the FCU is urging members of the public and businesses to be on the alert to this type of fraud.
Anyone who comes across any of the above schemes is asked to ignore the communication and delete or destroy all correspondence after informing the FCU that they have been in receipt of such scams. Anyone who receives fraudulent cheques should also contact the FCU as soon as possible on 949 8797. Attempting to cash counterfeit cheques is an offence that could lead to a ten-year prison sentence.
Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.