JENSEN LA VENDE
While the financial benefit to criminals involved in phishing (financial fraud) have increased exponentially as compared to 2016, police are limited to old laws to target those involved.
Speaking at the weekly media briefing yesterday, Fraud Squad head, Snr Supt Totaram Dookhie, said phishing is the process where a fraudster use a person’s sensitive financial data to obtain their money, usually by impersonating a legitimate entity.
He said that in 2016, the total cash value siphoned from victims amounted to $601,258. The following year, this rose to $7.3 million. That has been “cause for concern”, for the Fraud Squad.
He advised that anyone who has been scammed, either through a fake email or text message, that they contact their bank. For the first three months of this year, $148,517.99 was stolen through phishing.
Dookhie added that there is no offence of phishing on the law books adding that his officers use existing laws such as larceny and larceny trick to prosecute people who would have been held in connection with scamming citizens. He warned that anyone who engages in online banking have a separate email dedicated to their banking and verify all email addresses regarding request for any financial information.
He added that bank accounts should be checked regularly for any unauthorised charges or claims.
Dookhie said his close working relationship with the Banking Association he will not divulge if there was any particular financial institution predominantly targeted.
Another major concern, he said, is the issuing of fraudulent cheques. Dookhie warned that cheques should not be accepted on weekends, public holiday or any time where verification is problematic. Dookhie said with 14 public holidays, which give rise to many long weekends, there are syndicates who use these periods to attack.
“We are advising businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, do not accept cheques and conduct business via cheques after banking hours, on weekends and public holidays” Dookhie said adding that if businesses don’t heed the advice then they they should keep their assets until the cheques are cleared.