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Financial Intelligence Unit issues alert on COVID-19 related fraud

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Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020. 3:15 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: There have been reports of miracle cures which are not, and efforts to downplay the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as with many headline-grabbing matters of that nature, some see an opportunity to get rich quick off others.

Belize’s Financial Intelligence Unit has a responsibility to inform the public against such scams and on Monday it issued a general alert stating, “COVID-19 has greatly shifted the economic and social atmosphere of the world, leaving unusual consequences for our nation. The negative social and economic impacts of the pandemic may lead to increased receptiveness of individuals, households and businesses to donations and sudden windfalls. Fraudsters will try to use uncertainty to their advantage.”

The rest of the presentation is a summary of examples of fraudulent activity: phishing scams, seeking out personal and financial information; online shopping by pretend stores that grab your information to make real purchases surreptitiously; business targeting through fake invoices to different bank accounts from the original; manipulated mobile phone applications; impersonation of actual charities and the creation of false ones; and ransomware attacks targeting companies and important files. In each, the object is to gain your personal and financial information for financial gain on their part.

The FIU advises to be wary of unsolicited emails and thoroughly check incoming messages, especially those claiming to have information about COVID-19. Be careful of fake online shops utilizing non-traditional payment sources like money orders, credit cards, and so on. Check out the organizations whom you donate to, and try not to do so in cash. Secure your social media accounts by password and security question or similar combinations and avoid sharing anything too personal online.

If you are aware of or been victim to any of the scams mentioned above, contact the Unit at 223-2729 or visit their Coney Drive office.

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