Central Bank of Samoa warns public about scammers
Central Bank of Samoa warns public about scammers.
The acting governor of the Central Bank of Samoa says people should be wary about anyone wanting either money or personal information like bank account details.
The Central Bank of Samoa says more than US$214,000 has been lost to con artists over the past five years.
But Samoa is not the only country in the region being targetted by scammers.
Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor reports:
The Central Bank of Samoa says letters, emails or mobile phone messages, offering rewards on uncollected millions of dollars, or lotto winnings from overseas, or requests for monetary assistance, are nothing but scams. The acting governor, Gilbert Wongsin, says more than 50 cases have been referred to the Central Bank over the last 24 months. He says often locals are contacted via the internet or cell phones.
GILBERT WONGSIN: For some time now we have been putting in a lot of effort in trying to promote awareness for our people here in situation of being victimised by these con artists.
Mr Wongsin says people should be aware or suspicious if something sounds to good to be true.
GILBERT WONGSIN: If you don't know the person that's talking to you from the other end or you haven't met this person, or you haven't even bought a lottery ticket, you should be concerned about giving out your personal information, especially your bank accounts, your identification details.
Mr Wongsin says public notices warning people of such scams have been sent out to all media in Samoa. In Papua New Guinea, the National Capital District Metropolitan Commander Andy Bawa has also warned of scammers in his country. Commander Bawa says those being targetted are low-income earners, security guards and self employed people. He says they are told to deposit sums of between US$19 to US$38 with promises that they will reap 500% more from their investment. He says often the scammers pretend to be either an official or in some cases a politician.
ANDY BAWA: They are very good in changing their voices. And some of those, especially the victims, believe the people calling them are the real ones because the scammers can change the tone of their voice.
Commander Bawa says he believes the scammers are working with people in government departments who are providing the scammers with information about local officials and MPs. He says a number of complaints have been filed with police and they have had some good results.
ANDY BAWA: Three suspects arrested and charged. They are before the courts. One of them is one of those ring leaders and two accomplices. And we are slowly working on tapping other suspects who are part of the syndicate.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Internal Affairs' electronic messaging compliance unit lists scams reported to them. An investigator with the unit, Peter Merrigan, says with the rise in social media usage and a lot of resources online, he believes scammers are finding new ways in trying to gain peoples trust and undertake their scams.
PETER MERRIGAN: So people getting instant messaging online from people that look like their friends, saying that they have won some particular lottery. Be very cautious about who you are communicating with. Do a bit of due diligence and research online.
But he says the traditional methods are also still being used.
PETER MERRIGAN: Such as the usual email phishing, inheritance scams via post, the phone calls and other recent lottery type scams by SMS messaging.
Peter Merrigan says nobody should be giving out their banking credentials or identification information online, through email or through a phone call to people they do not know.
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