WHILE there is a possibility that infatuation could blossom into a beautiful relationship, there are instances where persons are so blinded by emotions that they are easily manipulated and exploited for personal gains, as has been the case over the past year, with persons falling prey to romance and package delivery scammers.
According to a statement from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Guyana, there are persons in Guyana who are actively involved with international partners in the commission of what is referred to as “package delivery scams or romance scams.”
A proliferation of this act was noted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which surfaced last year.
This Scam specifically targets persons via several social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The methodology used by the scammers is to befriend unsuspecting persons via the aforementioned digital platforms. And after building trust with their “new friend” of “love interest,” the scammer promises the intended victim, some form of assistance.
This, in most instances, is supposedly a “package” containing valuable gift items such as designer clothing, jewellery, televisions, cell phones 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 asked to deposit money to a specified local bank account or to send it via a money transfer agency.
The scammers advise the victims 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. In some instances, requests are made for additional payments, for various reasons which may sound plausible to unsuspecting individuals.
“If you or someone you know is approached via Email, Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS, etc., and promised gifts or COVID-19 related financial or other assistance, Beware! This 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,” the FIU warned.
Persons who believe they are a victim of this form of scamming are asked to report it immediately to the nearest police station.