THE general public has been put on high alert by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to be on the lookout for a real estate scam artist.
The scammer, claiming to be based in the US, is targeting financial institutions, real estate companies and law firms. The FIU is asking those groups to exercise extreme caution while conducting their ‘know your customer’ (KYC) procedures.
In recent months, the FIU has seen an increase in suspicious transaction reports where the said individual contacts a real estate agent or law firm via email, requesting the assistance of or representation from these institutions with respect to the purchase of real estate in The Bahamas.
The scam artist — who has used the names Andrew Franklin, Franklin Andrew, Frank Andrews and Frank Andrew — once made aware of the retainer amount and necessary KYC documentation, will forward the paperwork needed, however the documents are fraudulent.
The unit also says that during these transactions the retainer amount would be overpaid and either sent directly to the law firm or the law firm’s banking institution. After this is done, the individual immediately requests a refund of the overpaid amount hoping that the funds are remitted prior to the cheque being cleared.
The FIU notes the individual is purporting to be a citizen of the US, residing in the state of Washington.
The unit recommended companies refrain from depositing any cheques remitted to the institution and discontinue communication with the individual. The FIU says it appears that the individual is targeting The Bahamas and therefore asks that all financial institutions, in particular law firms and real estate agents take extreme caution in this regard.
The FIU is asking members of the public to contact them immediately if they have any information on this individual or if their financial institution has been approached by an individual using any of the stated names or a variation thereof and fits the description as noted.
The FIU can be contacted at director.fiu@ fiubahamas.bs