SOCU warns Guyanese against falling prey to Nigerian ‘romance scams’
Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) Senior Superintendent Fazil Karimbaksh says there is a sharp rise in cases of suspected Nigerian nationals who are in the country illegally and out of Guyana, collaborating with Guyanese citizens in the commission of what is referred to as ‘Package Delivery Scams’, ‘Romance Scams’ and pyramid schemes.
In a statement, SOCU said that the scammers emerged more prominently during the COVID-19 pandemic and targeted primarily females via several social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other online dating sites.
According to SOCU, the modus operandi used by the scammers is to befriend unsuspecting females via the aforementioned digital platforms. The scammers create fake profiles of Caucasian men with luxury vehicles and large sums of cash to gain the attention of the victims.
After communicating with the victim for some time to build trust with their `new friend’ or `love interest’, the scammer promises the intended victim, some form of assistance.
In most instances, it is supposedly a package containing valuable gift items such as designer clothing, jewellery, televisions, cell phones, money and other electronic devices.
The victim is usually contacted by a local associate of the scammer, confirming the arrival of the package and requesting their personal contact and other information. The intended victim is subsequently contacted again and requested to deposit money to a specified local Bank Account or send via a Money Transfer Agency or the Guyana Post Office Corporation.
They inform the victim that the payment is required to cover brokerage fees, customs duties, penalties and/or shipping charges for the package(s), which was found on inspection to contain high valued items.
Once the payment is made, the scammers discontinue all contact with the victim.
“SOCU is advising the general public that in the event anyone is approached via Email, Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS, Dating Sites etc., and is promised gifts or Covid-19 related financial or other assistance, DO NOT FALL PREY to these promises if it’s not from a government or other legitimate source. Since it may be a SCAM.
“DO NOT share any personal information, transfer or deposit money into the bank account of persons you meet online and do not know very well.
“If you believe that you are a victim of the ‘Romance or Package Delivery Scam’, report it IMMEDIATELY to the nearest Police Station,” the statement concluded.