Bruneians lose big money on romance scams online

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Bruneians were advised not to fall prey to romance scams which utilise social networking sites like Facebook where some Bruneian ladies have been duped amounting to thousands of dollars after being lured by their so-called foreign lovers, as reported by Borneo Bulletin.

They were also urged not to become victims of other consumer fraud like lottery, employment, loan scams, car rental scam, Internet fraud, credit card fraud, ATM card skimming, unauthorised cash withdrawal and get-rich-quick schemes.

This was said by Dexter Keasberry, Chairman of the Brunei Association of Banks Fraud Committee and ASP Hj Naguib DP Hj Ismail, Senior Investigation Officer from the Commercial Crime Division of the Royal Brunei Police Force in an awareness programme talk entitled ‘Antifraud, Financial Crime and Anti-corruption: What we can and cannot do’ yesterday at ILIA building in UBD.

On romance scams, Dexter said, “I have met customers, mainly ladies who met guys online and fell prey to the tactics and sent money overseas. A foreign guy promised to come to Brunei. On the way to the airport, his car broke down and asked the Bruneian lady to transfer some money to repair his car He nronnisPri to nay hark “The same lady was again duped by the foreign man who said that his mother was ill and asked to transfer money to cope with the high medical costs. The lady sent money to the foreign man and ended up ldsing $30,000. The foreign guy disappeared.”

In another case, a lady sent a six-digit sum to a guy in the neighbouring country. “When we checked the guy’s account in the neighbouring country, it was actually a scam as the account received money from various sources. When we interviewed the lady, she said she met this guy on Facebook where they fell in love and wanted to get married.”

Dexter also said, “Lately we see a lot of consumer fraud in the market where customers fall prey to scams such as lottery where customers receive millions of dollars in lottery draw or Indonesian ‘Dangdut’ competition that asks customers to call the numbers.

“Some of our customers were attracted to the scams and transferred money. We asked them whether they have taken part in the Dangdut competition. The lure of money is there.”

Another common scam is employment which previously impacted the private sector mainly but in the past year has even stretched to the government sector where the perpetrator forged a government letter and charged victims telling them they have got jobs.

Dexter also said that they see a lot of loan scams like loan sharks who openly post advertisements for those desperate for cash. He urged customers not to fall for such offers.

Then there is Internet fraud where customers receive e-mail from what appears to be a reputable company. The e-mail asks recipients to update their credit card information or account details via a bogus online link.

Some customers also receive certificates congratulating them that they have won millions of pounds and ask them to transfer thousands of dollars to foreign accounts. Customers should not fall prey to such scams.

Banks would never send information like certificates, he added.

Dexter highlighted ATM card skimming and unauthorised withdrawal of cash which are growing problems in Brunei.

He also talked about credit card fraud and urged customers to use sites with added security for Internet transactions. Most use card security code, the last three digits found on the back of a credit card.

He also advised customers not to hand over card information to anyone, not to give away their PINs, last three digits on the back of the card or bank passwords to unidentified callers, SMS or in response to unsolicited e-mails. People should never write down their PIN numbers and keep them with the cards and to shop only at secure websites.

As for bank business, Dexter said, “When visiting a bank, always come personally and bring original documents and do not represent a third party or send a third party to handle your banking transactions, plus always be clear of what you are applying for.”

Meanwhile, ASP Hj Naguib DP Hj Ismail, highlighted get-rich-quick scheme such as ponzi and pyramid schemes and general fraud like Nigerian scam, car rental scam where people have lost about RM1.6 million.

He also highlighted Section 420 of the Penal Code (cheating) as whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed, and which is capable of being converted into a valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to a fine.

He also pointed to the Banking Order 2006 (illegal deposit taking) namely section 93 (receiving, taking or acceptance of deposits), section 94 (unsolicited calls), section 95 (advertisement of deposits) and section §7 (fraudulent inducement in relation to deposits) and those found guilty are liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $10 million, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau representative highlighted guidelines on the handling of gifts. The talk was organised by the Centre for Islamic Banking, Finance and Management (CIBFM) with the cooperation of the BAB, Royal Brunei Police Force and the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

The objectives are to highlight to the government and private sector employees and members of the public on dangers of fraud, to highlight different types of fraud such as consumer fraud, Internet fraud and credit card fraud and to share with the audiences general awareness tips.

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