The RCIPS receives many reports of scams targeting Cayman Island residents. Con artists are always coming up with new ways to target unsuspecting victims. Here you will find details of common scams and advice on what to do if you are targeted.
It can be hard to distinguish between genuine and non-genuine emails and faxes, especially if you receive a large amount of communication. If you receive an email, fax, letter, text message or telephone call that you are concerned about, you are urged to be very cautious. One way of checking is to do an internet search on the names of the organisations or corporations involved and you are likely to find the latest warnings and advisories on them.
Request to use a bank account
The victim is asked to allow an account to be used to deposit a large sum of money. Initial contact is generally made by mass email and the victim is asked to keep all details of the transaction secret. The money offered is often from a secret account, unexpected inheritance, over-paid government contract or ‘forgotten money’ left in an African account. There are often fees or taxes requested to be paid by the victim before the money is deposited. Once these fees are paid, the money will never appear. Do not enter into communications with the sender and delete all suspect emails.
Lottery / prize winnings
The victim is informed that they have won money or goods in a competition or lottery they have never entered. This can be by letter, email, text message or telephone call. The scammers request that cash be sent for administration fees or to release the prize money. Once the victim has sent the money, they will never hear from the scammers again. Often the scammer will ask for personal details. People should ignore all communication such as this and hang up on any telephone call. Never give out personal details.
A business may receive communication from someone proposing to be a public official offering an opportunity to be involved in a large commercial opportunity. The offer will involve very large financial returns and will require the victim to finance a portion of the contract up front. The cash will be requested via money transfer agencies such as Western Union and will be for tasks such as legal fees, registration costs, project fees etc. These types of opportunities should be treated with extreme caution. Recipients of this type of communication can research the company and determine whether they are a reputable firm.
This scam involves adverts being placed in local classifieds for an experienced nanny. The advert contains a yahoo email address for interested parties to contact. Once communications have commenced, the potential employer will likely send some form of pre-payment or overpayment to the employee in the form of a cheque. The employer will then request the money back for a 'family emergency' fairly rapidly. The victim is then forced to send some of their own money before the cheque has cleared. The cheque then bounces and the employer is never heard from again. This scam can also be used to obtain people’s personal details which could be used for identity theft.
These types of adverts often detail jobs with very good working conditions such as high salaries and appealing benefits. People should remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
This scam involves the recipient being informed that they are entitled to some form of tax rebate. Companies which have been used as a cover include, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the IRS and Canada Revenue Agency. The email or fax is often produced to a high quality and can look official. The communication informs the recipient that they may be entitled to a tax refund. The receiver is often asked to complete an online form to assess their eligibility. Officials have stressed that they would not inform customers of a tax rebate via email, or invite them to complete an online form to receive the funds. Anyone who receives the email should not visit the site contained within or disclose any personal or payment information.
Email account provider - request for personal details
This scam involves people receiving an email claiming to be from their email account provider, such as Yahoo or Hotmail. The email claims to come from the Customer Care Department and requests information such as user name, account password, date of birth, country of residence and occupation, to ensure continued email service. Once this information has been given, an email is sent from the account to all contacts claiming to be from the account holder stating that the person is in trouble overseas and requires money to be sent to an account as a matter of urgency. After receiving the log-in information for the account and some personal details the scammers access the account and send a mass bogus email requesting cash.
No legitimate email provider would ever ask you for your personal information such as password, date of birth and occupation. All emails such as this should be deleted immediately.
Register for professional directory
These emails inform the recipient that they have been selected for inclusion in a business or professional directory. The email contains a link which takes you to an online form so you can fill in all your personal details. Residents should never give out their personal or banking details to a third party.
Credit card scam which targets businesses
The credit card fraud involves businesses being contacted from 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 often take shape in the form of accommodation providers being asked to facilitate business people attending a conference or seminar. A card is used to pay the bill and soon afterward the fraudster will cancel the booking and request that the refund be sent in cash via a money transfer agency. The credit card will later be deemed as stolen or cloned and the business will have lost a lot of money.
Counterfeit traveler's cheques
Residents in Cayman have reported receiving traveler's cheques in the post. The recipients are asked to cash the cheques, keeping ten per cent for themselves and sending the remaining 90 per cent overseas. These are counterfeit cheques. It is an offence to attempt to cash counterfeit cheques, one that you could be arrested for.
The charity scam differs from other scams as the victims are not seeking anything in return. The fraudsters seek out people on the internet and request regular donations to a charitable cause. The fraudster will often present themselves as ‘Reverends’ or ‘Ministers’ who operate in orphanages or Churches that are desperately seeking funds. There is no way to identify whether the outlet exists or whether the person seeking the funds is who they say they are. Residents who would like to donate to charity should consider using a well-known reputable charity which ensures the money is used for the purpose intended.
Jewellery store scam
Local stores have reported being contacted by people claiming to be looking to purchase expensive watches in the $25,000 range. The scammers ask that the purchase be spread over five or six credit cards. Some of the transactions will go through, some may be declined. The scammers may even fax passport photos, signatures and copies of the credit cards bearing their name to the jewellery store to try and prove that they are genuine.The card numbers being given are normally stolen or cloned. Stores should be very wary about transactions like this.
This scam preys on the recipients fears rather than greed or good intentions.The scam email, which first appeared in the USA in December 2006, threatens to kill recipients if they do not pay thousands of dollars to the sender, who purports to be a hired assassin. The scam does not appear to target or be addressed to anyone specifically and consequently could be sent to thousands of email addresses. Investigations by the RCIPS with the FBI have proved this email to be a hoax. In the USA, a recipient responded that he wanted to be left alone and threatened to call the authorities. The scammer then replied, reiterated the threat and included some personal details about the recipient; his work address, marital status and daughters full name. However, the FBI says recipients should not be overly spooked when scammers incorporate their intended victim’s personal details, as this kind of information is widely available. If anyone receives an email of this nature, please do not respond. Replying to emails sends a signal to senders that they have reached an active account and can also escalate the intimidation. If in doubt, please contact the police.
Last Updated: 2011-02-01