PORT OF SPAIN – The Police Service of Trinidad and Tobago today issued an alert to citizens regarding con artists using cellphones and classified advertising in newspapers to trick citizens into handing over money or personal banking information. In a police statement Trindadians were advised to disregard text messages via the cellphone “advising that you have won a grand sum of money and advance is being requested to process your winnings”.
As well, citizens were told to ignore messages via “your person email account, where the sender would in most instances describe themselves as a close friend of a relative and that they are stranded in a foreign country and need cash to purchase a return ticket”.
Nor, the police statement said, should cellphone owners acknowledge any “mail indicating that you have won a lottery”.
Thet were also advised not to disclose any personal information: name and address and personal banking information, if the sender of the request was not known to them personally, disregard all such calls and request, and as well to desist from sending “cash to the requesting party”.
The police bulletin also asked the general public “to exercise due diligence with regard to advertisements which may appear in the classified ads of the print media in respect to easy loan facilities”.
It said the offer of motor vehicle loans “may appear as Easy Loans/Swift Loan . . . . Such advertisements tend to solicit the unsuspecting public to make small down payments” for their processing.
“The applicant would normally be advised that the loan would be approved within seven working days,” the police said, but “when the applicant returns to the place of business, the entity is no longer in existence and cannot be located”.
There is also property fraud, “a relatively new and unique form of deception”.
“The vendor in this instance ‘assumes’ the identity of the bona fide property owner and prepares ‘official’ identity in the name of the bona fide owners, and proceeds to advertise the property for sale via the classified ads. Where such transactions are being contemplated, you are advised to have your down payment held in escrow, whilst the bona fides of the ‘vendors’ are being verified for authenticity.
“Upon complete satisfaction that the person who presents his/herself as the legitimate owner of the property (free from all encumbrances), then the legal process can take place with regard to the transaction. Under no circumstance you are to make a down payment to any property unless you are fully satisfied that the vendor is who he/she represents him/herself to be and is duly authorized to sell such property.” (Trinidad Express)