Police yet to receive report from Prime Minister on foundation scam

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Photo by Sureash Cholai
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Photo by Sureash Cholai

POLICE are yet to receive an official report from the Prime Minister who said a scammer tried to rip off the country in a donation fraud scheme.

On Monday Dr Rowley posted on Facebook that he was going to report the matter to police after learning that someone attempted to scam him.

On Sunday, after returning from Guyana, Rowley said Trinidad and Tobago was positioned to receive a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He gave no further information on the issue only that the amount was “significant” and that TT was “lucky to be identified” for the funding.

On Monday Newsday contacted the foundation and was redirected to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). A list of questions e-mailed to OPM requesting more information on the grant was not answered.

Later, Rowley on the official Facebook page of the OPM said he became aware of the supposed grant from the Chairman of Caricom and Prime Minister of Belize John Briceño.

Newsday contacted Briceño's communications manager Graciana Nal, however, calls and messages were not answered.

Rowley said he spoke to someone purporting to be the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres who “identified us for that gift that we will accept and put to good use.”

On Monday Rowley said following his announcement on Sunday, he followed up with the person he thought to be Guterres and became suspicious. He said he also conferred with Briceño on the messages he received about the disbursement of the funds and was further convinced of the attempted scam.

In his statement on Monday, Rowley said, while in Guyana, Briceño told him Guterres wanted to reach him and other Caricom heads to advise them on their selection for the funding as part of the foundation’s poverty alleviation programme.

Rowley said he called the number he had saved as Guterres but was only able to message the person and not call them. The person he said tried to get him to use a foreign bank to access the grant, but said there would be a "significant" processing fee.

The Prime Minister said his suspicion was further aroused when the person on the other end tried to get him to make a substantial deposit in a Chinese bank as a prerequisite for receiving the grant.

He promised to report the matter to the police for them to investigate.

In April, the cyber security incident response team of the Ministry of National Security warned of increased cyberattacks in TT and the region, targeting local and regional entities.


"Police yet to receive report from Prime Minister on foundation scam"

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