With the countless advances in technology that enhance our daily lives in many ways including banking, we also see recurrent criminal threats striking the financial industry. Fraudsters are improving their methods and we need to join forces to spot fraud attacks and proactively protect your money from unethical activities.
We want to increase your awareness of current scams and describe some below.
Advance Fee: That happens when fraudsters target victims and trick them into making advance or upfront payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that do not materialise. Sometimes, they get people to provide bank account numbers. Types of Advance Fee Fraud includes - Lottery/Prize Draw Fraud, 419 Fraud, Inheritance Fraud, Loan Scam, Internet Auction Fraud, Dating Romance Fraud, Clairvoyant or Psychic Fraud, Work from Home Opportunity Fraud, Career Opportunity Fraud, Cheque Overpayment Fraud and more.
Bank Guarantee Fraud: This involves bogus investment schemes encouraging potential investors in trading prime bank instruments, and promising guaranteed, risk-free high returns. Fraudsters usually use complex, sophisticated but official-sounding language. This may include letter of credit, debentures, prime World Bank bank guarantees, private funding project, and more.
Cheque Fraud: Scammers may use various ways to make bogus cheque payments. Those cheques, either stolen (forged signature), altered (change of recipient name) or counterfeited (created on non-bank paper), are valueless meaning that you would remit goods or services with no money in return. Sometimes, fraudsters fake cheques with a higher than the agreed value and trick you into refunding them the difference.
Dumpster Diving: Fraudsters rummage through trash looking for bills or other papers with your personal information on it.
Ponzi and Pyramid Schemes: It is a fraudulent practice that dupes investors by promising above average returns in a short space of time. In both schemes, fraudsters pay returns to existing investors out of the money brought in by new investors. Since those schemes are not supported by any real investment that could generate the promised returns, the schemes collapse whenever there is a liquidity crisis in the system, triggered by higher redemptions, or when promoters cannot raise enough money from new investors to pay earlier ones. Except for the criminals who started the scheme, everyone else lose money!
Recovery Room Fraud: This rapidly growing fraud often exploits investors who have already fallen victim of another fraud like Timeshare fraud. Scammers, posing as a representative of a government agency or organisation that aid scam victims, offer to help recover the money lost, for an advance fee. This might even be carried out by the same group of criminals.
Timeshare/Boiler Room Fraud: This refers to an investment scam that works towards selling you worthless, overpriced or even non-existent shares. Fraudsters claim - via email, phone, post or seminar - that you can easily become a share owner of a property, by buying a timeshare. The property either doesn’t exist or is not of the same value as advertised. Sometimes, they offer you a gift or discount on their dealing charges, and usually exercise pressure on you to sign a contract for the timeshare. If you are already a timeshare owner, fraudsters may offer to sell it on your behalf, for a fee.
Vishing: Short for Voice Phishing, it is a fraudulent practice of making phone calls or leaving voice messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to trick people into revealing critical financial information such as bank details, credit cards details or even lure them into transferring money over the phone. During sophisticated attacks, the criminals already know your name, address, phone number - essentially the kind of information you would expect a genuine caller to have. A vishing attack can be conducted by voice email, VoIP (voice over IP), landline or mobile phone.
Wire Transfer Fraud: This increasingly sophisticated phishing fraud is very well organised and happens to individuals and companies of all sizes, and can result in significant financial loss. It occurs when victims are scammed into transferring money by wire transfer to a fraudster. Con artists insist that people wire money – especially overseas – because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transfer or trace the money.
In attacks targeting organisations, scammers perpetrating these frauds monitor and infiltrate companies. People behind those attacks usually conduct thorough investigation, including social engineering, to understand the company’s brand, environment, activities, payment procedures as well as the employees’ responsibilities, habits, schedules so they know exactly who to target, how and when, and in view to make the wire transfer request look as credible as possible.
This con usually entails Business Email Compromise whereby the attacker compromises a business executive’s email account or any publicly listed email. Because of its low volume highly-targeted nature, the counterfeited emails usually have few of the typical markers of spam. Fraudsters intercept emails using malicious software or simply create fake emails, and impersonate someone from the company and freely sends emails to the victims.
Imposters also target individuals and usually come up with all kinds of convincing stories to get your money. Many of them involve the victim wiring money through financial institutions as well as companies like Western Union and MoneyGram. Here are some examples of money wiring scams explained below - Family Emergency or Friend-in-Need Scams - Invoice Fraud – CEO Fraud.
CEO Fraud: This well-established type of ‘wire transfer fraud’ uses subtle means to convince specific executives with adequate access to their company’s accounts to wire large sums of money, increasingly reaching seven figure sums. After sound research and creating spoof emails, the resourceful scammers usually target the finance or accountancy department and impersonate C-Level executives, often the CEO, to request urgent fund transfers into nominated bank accounts. Organisations with international business transactions are more likely to be targeted as transfers to overseas banks wouldn’t stand out as suspicious.
Invoice Fraud: This is another variation of ‘wire transfer' fraud whereby scammers, impersonating a supplier for instance, fraudulently request to have bank details changed, claiming to have payment services shifted abroad. Very often done by email, the request may be made by phone as well, and the call will closely imitate a legitimate request. After careful study of the targeted companies and people, usually fraudsters craft correspondences so the content of the email including the invoice itself appear to be genuine, and similar to prior invoices from real supplier - nothing out of the ordinary.
- Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic. Always check the sending email address and financial related instructions contained therein and don’t trust phone numbers displaying during the call as fraudsters can make any phone number appear on an handset. Confirm the email or call genuineness by calling the company back on the official phone number which you may already have on file.
- Always look out for any irregularities on invoices including a change of name, bank details, amount or address. Be suspicious if it differs from the last time you used it and confirm any changes with the company requesting the amendment by using contact details you already have on record.
- Don’t click on ‘reply’ to answer back. Instead, use the ‘forward' feature and key in your correspondent’s email address you have on file. This will ensure that you are not, in fact, responding to any potential scammer.
Family Emergency Scams: Another alternative form of this fraud is simply when fraudsters claiming to be a member of a family or friend who needs cash for an emergency — like hospital fees, robbed during an overseas trip or even to get out of jail. The con person begs the prey - by email, instant message or phone - to wire money right away, and usually insist on keeping the situation secret.
You may have heard about some other common types of wire transfer scams, namely - Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams - Overpayment Scams - Mystery Shopper Scams - Online Purchase Scams - Long-Lost Inheritance Scams - Online Job Scam.