Relatives, friends cheat on loved ones, police say
Victims of fraud see their own family members, close friends and colleagues trying to cost them millions, a white-collar detective has revealed.
But the coronavirus pandemic has seen a drop in fraud attempts, according to new research soon to be released by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
Acting Royal Barbados Police Inspector Sonia Thompson of the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit noted that, like the FIU report, police saw a reduction in the number fraud reports since the start of the pandemic.
Inspector Thompson said it was recognized that in many cases “trusted family members” were those who committed the fraud by using their loved one’s bank cards or forging their signatures.
Pointing out that the fraud included any kind of deception that resulted in someone being tricked into giving up funds or assets, Thompson said it was also the forgery and theft. identity.
She said there had been many cases of people running away with money from individuals after pledging goods or services, adding that there were also cases of individuals running away without paying. for the goods or services they had received.
She told an online forum that currently, “most of the fraud that we see is largely related to ATM withdrawals and sometimes when people come in and make that report and we get the footage for the. support and when we show them the pictures, this is a case where they decide “I’m not going to sue anymore. He’s a family member. He’s someone I know,” she stressed. .
âSo these are some of the things that we’ve seen a lot. We used to see fraudulent documents before, but I know we have done quite a bit of training with some institutions, so we don’t see these fraudulent documents as much as we saw them earlier in the year, âshe said. . added.
While stressing that there has been no increase in fraudulent activity reported by businesses over the past year, they were able to use downtime during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to find out staff members who defrauded them.
According to FIU research, just over 100 fraud attempts were made between March 2019 and February 2021 at financial institutions, worth more than $ 6 million.
Giving an overview of some of the findings of the FIU’s special report, which is due to be released in a few days, FIU director Kirk Taitt said fraud attempts declined during the pandemic, with even less success. , compared to the previous year. .
He attributed the decline in part to robust surveillance measures taken by regulators, financial institutions and others.
Taitt said the report, which has already been submitted to law enforcement officials and financial institutions, examined data from some 500 suspicious transaction / suspicious activity reports for the period March 2019 to February 2020 and again from March 2020 to February 2021 to get a feel for trends before COVID-19 and during the pandemic.
In 2019-2020, investigators identified 55 fraud attempts worth $ 4.8 million, of which 22 were âdeemed successfulâ for an amount of $ 477,000.
While the coronavirus pandemic has forced shutdowns since March 2021, there have been 47 attempts to defraud $ 1.4 million institutions, eight of which were deemed successful, the FIU chief said.
“The total value of fraud during these two periods was therefore $ 6.2 million, while successful attempts totaled just under $ 600,000, or about 10% of the overall value,” said Taitt.
âThis told us that for us in Barbados, the appetite for fraud may not be as high as in other countries as we have seen a real decrease in fraud attempts. . . it may be more the result of stakeholders – banks and credit unions, etc. – who put in place measures to ensure that the system is not subject to abuse during the COVID crisis. “
Inspector Thompson also noted that an “interesting” observation from his department over the past year and a half was that several companies were able “to go back and do an audit and recognize that there were a number of issues. ‘anomalies’.
âThis is one of the things particularly between 2020 and 2021 that has marked us in terms of COVID. Individuals are now able to see their files and they have taken some time to review them and they recognize that the staff in these cases were the people perpetuating the fraud. So these are questions that are now before us, âshe said.
During the forum, regulators urged individuals and business operators to report fraud even if they may feel embarrassed about it, agreeing that there is a possibility of under-reporting of fraud in Barbados. [emailÂ protected]