THURSDAY, AUGUST 11: The Financial Crime Unit of the Bermuda Police Service reports a marked increase in the number of internet scams circulating Bermuda, the following being the most prevalent.

1. Be suspicious of job advertisements where no experience is required other than to accept and forward funds from your account. Fraudulent personal or travelers cheques are received, which is typically an overpayment of what was originally agreed. The overpayment is usually then asked to be returned before the foreign personal or travelers cheque has sufficient time to clear.

2. Exercise care when purchasing or advertising items from the internet. Fraudsters will often use local classified advertisements to seek high valued goods, requesting the ‘purchased’ items to be sent overseas where fraudulent personal or travelers cheques are again the preferred method of payment. A common theme is stating that too many of the purchased items have been sent or payment of customs release fees. Look for correspondence from free email address –if the item sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.

3. ‘Phishing’ describes the practice of sending emails purporting to be from legitimate companies such as banking institutions, in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information. Some of these emails may look authentic, in that they may have an official logo or inform the reader that their account will be closed unless they respond immediately.  No reputable organization will solicit your banking information by email or by telephone and if there is any doubt, contact the bank directly.

4. Unsolicited official looking documentation from organizations informing of lottery wins, email draws or unclaimed prizes. These scams lure the victim with the promise of huge amounts of money after the appropriate ‘fees’ are paid. In almost all instances, these notifications request reply to a free email address.

5. Emails from persons you know who state they’ve been a victim of crime in a foreign country and request money to be sent to them as a matter of urgency. Typically, the victim’s email account has been compromised and their address book / contacts have been used in an effort to obtain funds.

6. Latest scams have evolved to include social networking sites, where an attractive member of the opposite sex proposes a relationship with the possibility of marriage. Although having never met before, the victim is then asked to accept funds into their personal account, invariably being the proceeds of successful scams. The promise of companionship is then used as an inducement for the stolen funds to be forwarded to the fraudster.

Any person wishing to report suspicious correspondence should contact the Bermuda Police Financial Crime Unit on 295 0011.