SCAM Alert

SCAM Alert

SCAM Alert - protecting yourself online

Scams and phishing emails often seem legitimate but are in fact attempts to steal personal information that could be used to conduct fraudulent payments or convince you to do things that could be detrimental to your own financial security.

CalBank Ghana has been alerted to an increasing number of “advance fee fraud schemes” intended to defraud unsuspecting individuals and companies. In response to this alert, CalBank Ghana warns against fraudulent online domiciliary account opening solicitations, funds remittance orders, investment deals and advanced fee fraud schemes that misuse the Bank’s name or claim to be affiliated with CalBank Ghana.

Advanced fee fraud schemes involve solicitations that encourage potential victims to provide personal information such as signatures, bank account information, photocopies of drivers’ license and national passport and most importantly to pay certain advance fees and account opening deposit amount. In return, the potential victim is promised the remittance of sums of money which the solicitor has no intention of paying.

Law enforcement agencies estimate that thousands of these advance fee fraud solicitations are sent by fax or e-mail every week and are addressed to individuals and companies around the world.

CalBank Ghana disavows such schemes, and cautions the public to be wary of these and other similar solicitations that falsely claim to be from the Bank. We expressly dissociate the bank from any transaction entered into on the strength of such scam mails/correspondence or any other representation made via any of the fictitious websites/e-mail addresses.

Please be informed that http://www.calbank.net remains the only authentic and genuine website of CalBank Ghana whose registered head office is at 23 Independence Avenue, P. O. Box 14596, Accra-Ghana

Our transactions on the internet are all in Ghanaian legal tender i.e. GHANA CEDIS and not in other foreign currencies, such as Great Britain Pounds Sterling, United States Dollars, etc. Please note that we do not initiate and/or conclude our banking transactions on the web.

The Bank will not be liable for any loss incurred by any person who deals with the imposters contrary to its advice. In the event that you receive this kind of solicitation mails/letters, please disregard the senders and notify us.

For further enquiries, please send mail to customercare@calbank.net or call our e-banking department on (233-302)680061-69,680079. You can also call us toll free on 0800 500 500.

You may visit http://www.scamorama.com/ to learn more about scam

Essentially, fraudsters try to tempt people, usually via email or fax, with the promise of large cash pay-outs in exchange for a small advance payment hence the name “advanced fee fraud”. In Nigeria, it is named after the section of our criminal code which defines this kind of criminal activities; 419. Fraudsters have come up with a wide range of schemes namely, contract scam, inheritance scam, credit card scam, humanitarian scam, job scam, lottery scam, money washing scam, marriage scam, immigration scam, counterfeiting, religious scam, and other cyber crimes. We describe five of the commonly used tactics below:

Next-of-Kin Inheritance: This is a very common fraudulent tactic. Individuals are contacted by persons claiming to be officials of a bank usually by email. They present bogus stories of foreigners who lived in their country and have passed on who share the same surname with their intended victims. Often they share news stories of the tragic accidents or natural disasters which were widely reported by the news media. They claim to be the “account manager” or “accountant” of huge sums of money left behind by the deceased who has no next-of-kin to inherit the money with the bank. There is usually a tone of urgency – the money is about to be frozen or forwarded to an inaccessible account. Their intended victims are advised to come forward and claim rights to the non-existent inheritance. In essence, the fraudsters ask their victims to be partners in perpetuating fraud.

Government Debt Payments: In several of these schemes, individuals have falsely represented themselves to be “the manager”, “chairman”, “authorized attorney”, “director”, “account manager”, “accountant” or “representative” of a bank and send faxes to creditors of the Federal Government of Nigeria claiming to be empowered by “The Presidency”, “Secretary to the Federal Government”, “Economic Advisor”, etc to repay the government’s past debts. Often phony bank letterheads are used for these faxes which quote phony office addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. In some cases, the solicitors even use the names of actual staff members to strengthen the ‘credibility’ of the solicitation.

Offshore Account Opening Solicitations: In this instance, these criminals contact unsuspecting individuals and portray themselves as agents of credible banks and request that they open offshore bank accounts – accounts in a foreign country. They often refer their victims to fictitious websites that purport to be the websites of real banks.

Spoof: The most common of high-tech Internet scams is called phishing (also called spoof) e-mails that appear to be from a well-known company but can put you at risk. The bogus emails are sent with the hopes of enticing or just tricking the naïve into giving up personal information at fake websites that resemble the websites of legitimate financial institutions or other commercial outfits. Although they can be difficult to spot, they generally ask you to click a link back to a spoof website and provide, update or confirm sensitive personal information. To bait you, they may allude to an urgent or threatening condition concerning your account. The criminals are usually after your password or pin, credit card validation code, ATM/debit or credit card number, bank account details, social or national identification numbers. This personal information is usually used to perpetuate identity theft.

Internet Lottery Win: Spoofs are sent to victims announcing to them their lottery win. The mails quote bogus winning ticket numbers and huge sums of money as payout. “Winners” are usually expected to come forward in a matter of weeks to collect their entitlements or forfeit their winnings. Often, as in all spoofs, these criminals con people into providing personal details and bank account information.

No matter how hard these criminals try to appear authentic, the signs of their true identities are usually right on the surface of their first message and the discerning can easily see the red flags. Scams usually have all or some of the following features:

Unsolicited: These fraudulent business deals are most of the time unsolicited. You never played any lottery or applied for loans or money from the company or institution that offers you the money. They are sent to you by complete strangers who appear to know you. The reality is that the same solicitation was probably sent to thousands of other people.

Sense of Urgency: Victims are usually expected to act quickly on the notice. Ridiculously short periods of time are allowed for the victim to act or lose the money or benefits.

Underlining Threat: The expected money will be moved to an inaccessible account, or the account will be frozen or your own account will be closed, or your credit card will be deactivated, or you will be charged a fee if you fail to comply; which ever threat is used, the real purpose is to get you alarmed and make you co-operate quickly.

Confidentiality: The transaction presented before you usually requires that you keep all your communication with these fraudsters confidential. You are asked not to discuss the transaction with anyone at all. Sometimes, you are asked not to contact the financial institution concerned directly. All third parties brought into the transaction are usually recommended by the fraudsters and more often than not, they are part of the scheme.

Advanced Payment: You are expected to pay a “small” amount of money as courier fees, transfer fees, bribes, taxes, bank charges, legal fees or professional fees in order to facilitate the transfer of the huge sum of money to you.

Criminal Undertone: Often the schemes presented to you have criminal elements when you accept to be part of the transaction. When you are asked to step forward and lay claim to an inheritance of someone you do not know, and you comply, you are in essence committing fraud. When you are asked to help a corrupt government official siphon loot from a public treasury, you are helping to commit a crime. Often these fraudsters play on their victims’ greed to defraud them.

Embedded Links: In most spoofs, there are embedded links that look legitimate because they contain all or part of the name of a real company.

Spelling Errors: Spelling errors in fraudulent emails are usually obvious and many times, deliberate. The errors help the spoofs to avoid spam guards that ISPs use.

Bad Grammar and Punctuations: Usually these fictitious solicitations are written in bad English, all capitals letters, and with improper punctuations.

Use Free Internet Mail Services: Fraudsters usually use free email services like yahoo, hotmail, netscape, lycos, and others. Authentic company mails are usually sent from company websites and end with the company’s website for example abcd@calbank.net

Vague Contact Details: Often, the addresses quoted by these fraudsters are fake, incomplete, vague or downright non-existent. Phone numbers supplied are usually mobile, personal or residential phone lines. Real companies use fixed lines and they usually have a series of numbers, not one or two. Also, company phone lines are usually linked to a switchboard and are not picked up directly by people when you call.

If you get an email that has one or more of any of the features mentioned in How to Spot a Scam Mail, do not reply the mail. Don’t try to play along. Don’t try to conduct your own personal investigations. Don’t try to see where this scam will lead or end. Don’t even start!

If you receive an unsolicited email that promises to make you very rich and sounds too good to be true, it is actually that: Too good to be true!

Always do some due diligence before getting into transactions with people you do not know. Contact the embassy of the home country of the person who sent you the mail or contact your country’s embassy in that person’s country to verify the legitimacy of the business proposal.

Ignore the plea for confidentiality; discuss the proposal with professionals like your banker, attorney, stockbroker, accountant, or financial adviser. Chances are high that the “deal” will fail a professional test.

Free Internet email services are committed to ending phishing. If you click on the reply button of the scam mail and the reply address is a free email service. Forward that mail with a complaint to “abuse@” wherever the mail came from; for example, abuse@yahoo.com, abuse@hotmail.com. Appropriate action will be taken by the service provider.

Where the scammer purports to represent a legitimate institution or business, do a simple Internet search – use google, yahoo, msn, netscape – for the real company’s website. Register a complaint at the authentic website and appropriate action will be taken to close down the phony website and warn other likely victims.

If you are victim to a spoof or scam mail there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and minimize your losses.

Discontinue further communication with the fraudsters: This is the first thing you should do once you realize that you have been scammed. Sending threatening messaging to these criminals will do no good. Conducting a private investigation by continuing to lead them on will not help either. Leave the criminal investigation to the professional law enforcements agents who have the prerequisite training and experience in handling criminals.

Contact your bank: If you have given out your bank account details, credit card number, pin and password to fraudsters, contact you bank and your credit card companies immediately. Tell them your fears and request to close your accounts and open new ones.

Contact your personal attorney: Inform your attorney of your situation and seek professional legal advice.

Report to law enforcement officials: Register a complaint with your local law enforcement agencies.

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