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Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) calls out ‘phishing scams’

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Posted: Friday, March 18, 2022. 10:44 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is warning of a rise in efforts to scam Belizeans out of their funds online in what is known as a “phishing scam.”

In this case, persons receive email purporting to be from their bank stating that they are required to update bank account information or migrate to new online banking security settings. In reality, the scammers use the divulged sensitive banking credentials to fraudulently transfer funds online.

On the other side, certain individuals are recruited by social media to harvest the profits of these crimes and remit or transfer the value to criminal third parties in Belize and overseas, per the FIU. This includes responding to online job offers to evaluate online gift card sales by purchasing online gift cards from the likes of Google Play and iTunes with funds sent to their accounts, some of which they can keep and the rest to transfer the stolen money to third party accounts or remittance service providers like Western Union and Moneygram.

Such activity, if knowingly done, constitutes money laundering, pursuant to section 3 (1) of the Money Laundering & Terrorism (Prevention) Act, Chapter 104 of the laws of Belize (Revised Edition 2020). The Unit says it is investigating these reports and will prosecute perpetrators and accomplices, including the freezing of their accounts and turning over the proceeds of the crime.

To avoid such a conviction, the Unit urges the following:

Do not reply to email messages requesting your sensitive banking information. Be very suspicious of email messages from individuals or organizations asking for your personal information or sends your personal information to you requesting that you update or confirm it. Be reminded that financial institutions do not send links to customers’ emails requesting users to change login credentials such as account name, password, PIN number, security questions, etc.

Do not click on links in suspicious emails. The link may not be trustworthy.

Secure your personal information by upgrading security protocols including passwords and create strong passwords, which contain alphanumeric and special characters.

Monitor your online accounts frequently.

Report suspicious emails by using your email’s “report phishing” or “report spam” features.

And finally, report all suspicious activity to the FIU at telephone number 223-2729.

 

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