By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE United States Embassy in Nassau has warned the American public of an apparent “fraudulent call” scheme, in which people were being coerced into transferring sizeable funds under the guise that the money would be used to aid family members travelling in The Bahamas.
The revelation was detailed this week in a release by the embassy’s office in Nassau, with officials warning people receiving such calls to verify either the information received or the embassy’s involvement in specific cases.
According to officials, in most scenarios, the caller obtains information, often through social media, which confirms that a relative is travelling in or residing in The Bahamas and uses that information to try to convince a willing victim to send money to allegedly aid the relative.
Officials said another common practice recognised is the “Grandparent Scam”, which works to target the grandparents or other relatives of supposed travellers.
In this version of the scam, the caller contacts the relative to ask for personal credit card information over the phone to pay medical bills for an injured relative that would facilitate their release from the hospital and/or departure from The Bahamas.
Speaking about the reported scam, officials said: “US Embassy personnel will never ask for a family member’s personal credit card information over the phone or to be the designated recipient of a money transfer on behalf of a US citizen.”
The advisory added: “For true medical emergencies, the US Embassy will only direct money transfer through an official account established through the Department of State’s Office of Citizen Services in Washington, DC, or through commercial money wire service in which the recipient name is only that of the injured relative.”
Officials recommended that people being contacted in this way immediately reach out directly to the reported injured relative or their parents and other relatives to verify the purported information.
The embassy also said it recommends against transferring funds until some form of verification is obtained.
Officials noted that this was the latest in series of scams that now face American citizens throughout the world. The report noted drug trafficking scams, romance scams and in some instances, lottery scams.
Officials urged American citizens to use reputable banks, credit card companies, money transfer companies, the US Department of State, Western Union, express courier services or the US Postal Service mail.
No information was provided by the embassy on how many people have been affected by the scam to date.