No one is saying they are gold-diggers. But they are not messing with broke people.
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is warning of an increase in “romance scams” taking place in this country.
Kevin Radix of the FIU warned of the ongoing situation as he addressed the Central Finance Facility’s (CFF) Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Training Workshop which took place earlier this week.
The CFF’s two-day virtual training was attended by over 30 participants from 11 Credit Unions.
“Mr Radix encouraged credit union participants to not take anything for granted. He added that in the process of loan applications, credit unions should be vigilant, as a number of persons are exposed to fraudulent financial transactions such as romance fraud and scams,” a release from CFF stated yesterday.
And the issue of romance fraud is something that the FIU also highlighted in its annual report which was published last month.
“The typology can be considered a social engineering tactic as it entails the ‘engineering’ of a friendship or relationship for fraudulent, financial gain,” the FIU stated.
“Romance fraud involves a perpetrator articulating fabricated romantic intentions towards susceptible victims, mostly females, in an attempt to gain their trust and manipulate them to access their cash, bank accounts or even credit cards,” it stated.
According to the FIU the perpetrators, who may be either located in T&T or internationally, contact their victims through social media or dating websites.
“Once initial contact is made, the perpetrator attempts to ‘engineer’ a relationship with the victim by expressing the need for companionship and romantic intentions,” the FIU stated.
The FIU added that it has been observed the primary targets are considered to be at a potentially vulnerable stage of their life including divorcees, retirees, widows, or single women.
It stated that in most instances the victims have never seen the perpetrator and that photographs are usually stolen from other social media users.
“Once trust has been established in the ‘relationship’, the perpetrator makes a financial request. This request entails the perpetrator requesting that money (for a ‘shipping’ company) be deposited into an individual personal account not known to the victim for the purpose of a ‘package’. This package allegedly contains gifts such as clothes, jewellery and even money for the victim,” it stated.
“Most times, requests for additional funds are made by the alleged courier service citing the reason as additional custom duties given the contents of the package,” the FIU revealed.
The FIU said once the money has been deposited into the account it is usually withdrawn the same day or soon after via ATMs or in-branch withdrawals.