The US Federal Bureau of Investigations has confirmed that they are actively tracking down a major online fraud network that is targeting citizens from a number of countries, including Guyana.
The Feds are on the case because the Fraudsters are using the name of the US President to defraud their victims, among other things.
In Guyana’s case, more than two dozen people are believed to have handed over millions of dollars in local currency to the sophisticated fraud network, which targets its potential victims mostly via Facebook and by email.
The perpetrators are said to be operating between the United States and Nigeria, and is believed to involve somewhere between five to ten people with forged identification documents.
The criminal network operates by sending out emails or generic Facebook messages to their targets, which indicate that they are entitled to money which ranges from between US$100,000 to one million US dollars.
But while most persons would simply ignore or recognize the windfall messages as a scam, there are still a handful of people, who through desperation and ignorance, pursued the promised prize monies, only to end up losing corn and ox later.
Two Guyanese victims and one would-be victim who spoke to this publication had explained how they were fleeced of their savings, while expressing embarrassment at being identified.
In all instances, they relate that the crime started via a notification that they received from someone who told them that they had won various sums of monies through a US Government program, among other things.
A bogus digital certificate which listed the World Bank, Facebook, and the Federal Government as joint payees is usually included in the message.
To top it off, the certificates have the bogus signatures of US President Donald Trump and former President Barrack Obama (in other cases), insinuating that either of them had personally signed the document to hand over the money.
The document also carried a notice which stated “Every tax or taxes to any Ministry or cooperation here in the United States of America, e.g Central Bank, Ministry of Justice, etc must be paid upfront before funds will be deposited or transferred into the beneficiary designated foreign account”
What was obvious, is the fact that the US does not use the term ‘Ministry of Justice’ or ‘Central Bank’, both of which are legally referred to as the Department of Justice and the Federal Reserve bank, respectively.
Interestingly, the bogus document insinuates that the request for the money is being made personally by US President Donald Trump, urging the victims to pay over the “tax” money quickly before he changes his mind.
Believing that it was indeed President Donald Trump who sent them the request to pay over the tax money, the victims said that they swiftly complied and went to Western Union and wire the money to the person that “President Trump” supposedly told them to send it to.
“How de certificate look, I did believe that is Trump did send me de thing. So me ain’t really had no problem wid sending de the tax”, said one man who handed over a total of US1,000 to the fraud ring.
However, in all instances, each of the victims sent the money to a different name, and different US State, which seems to suggest that the gang is dispensing the fake ID’s used for each transaction, among other things.
Questioned on whether either of them had reported the matter to the police, but the victims lamented that they do not think that there is anything that the police in Guyana can do to track down and apprehend the culprits abroad.
Nonetheless, a media-relations agent at the FBI field office in New York told this publication that Guyanese can report any intelligence information on internet fraud incidents to the FBI through the local US embassy in Georgetown, or preferably via this LINK on the web.
However, while the agency is able to solve a large number of cyber crimes, it does not guarantee that a report would necessarily lead to solving every reported case.