A TOTAL of $4.5m has been lost due to Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) fraud for this year alone. This was revealed yesterday at the weekly police press briefing at Police Administration Building in Port of Spain.
In the latest incident of bank fraud, eight people at a house in St Augustine including seven Venezuelans and a Trini were arrested with over 100 fraudulent credit and debit cards and scamming equipment. They were found tampering with ABMs at a mall in east Trinidad.
Supt Curt Simon of the Fraud Squad said there have been significant losses due to this and other types of fraud crimes. “For the year so far, there have been 664 reports of ATM frauds, amounting to over $4.5 million in losses. Fifty-nine people have been charged,” he said.
In one case, seven people were charged with conspiracy to defraud the Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) and falsely obtaining money from the accounts of a murdered Tobago couple back in July.
Last month, Arouca police held a man for possession of counterfeit currency, while investigations are underway by the Couva police into equipment used for the making of identification cards and driver’s permits. To combat white-collar crimes, he said, a special ABM task force has been created to handle debit and credit card scams.
Three Fraud Squad officers have benefited from extensive training in dealing with white collar crime. Simon warned women using social media to be vigilant with whom they interact with and exchange personal information.
“A significant number of women have reported scams involving promised marriage and payment to accounts for wedding preparations. There is usually one report a month, but no arrests have been made as yet,” Simon said. It is difficult to trace perpetrators of this type of online crime known as “phishing”, he said, because it is often conducted from overseas and the accounts are spread across other jurisdictions.
“TT is party to international monitoring through the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT), and Interpol, he said. But tracking has been difficult.