Sunday, 11 August 2013

10 new ways used to con public of money




Online Forex Trading
There are reports that several people are making a lot of money from online forex trading. In this business, a trader buys shares online at a low price and can sell them within minutes at twice or more the original buying price. In Uganda, several potential investors are lured into buying shares with a promise that they will get at least 20.4 per cent a month of the deposited money for 24 months.
Most of the victims are elites who can get at least $17,500 (Shs45m). The fraudsters target about 100 people whom they collect money from and then start giving them interest. A few months later, they disappear with the rest of the money. At least 1,000 people reportedly were conned by two companies since 2011 to date. Other cases are still pending with police.

Cleansing and money multipliers
Since some Ugandans are so spiritual, those who get colossal sums of money want it ‘blessed’ or cleansed so that they can get more.
With this in mind, many fraudsters pose as spiritual leaders and invite their victims to shrines where they demonstrate to them using magic tricks how the money can be ‘multiplied’. The victims are told to put some notes of money in a wooden box and lock. The victims then open the box and find more money than what they had put which excite them. Con men then tell the victims to put the money to be blessed or multiplied in the same box, lock it and go home with it. Unfortunately, when victims carry the box to their home, they don’t find any money.
Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Ibin Ssenkumbi put the number of complaints of this nature at Kampala Central Police Station alone at 10 every week. Most victims, especially local businesspeople, lose not less than Shs10m in each scam.
Focus point bearing scams
Con men involved in this kind of scam carry out a background search about their victims to know their contacts, workplace, schools they went to, friends, relatives and movement. Armed with facts, they telephone their victims claiming to be old boys or girls, but now work for an oil company and there is a good deal which can make both of them rich.
They tell their victims that one of their machines broke down and it needs at least 100 new focus point bearings and his manager (probably of a White man) wants to buy them, but he doesn’t know that they are on the local market.
“I can’t purchase them because it is unethical to deal in inside trading. So if you can buy them at Shs2m each and take them to my manager in a hotel in Entebbe, we shall share the proceeds,” the con men often tell their victims.
By just calculating the profits in the deal, most victims agree to contact the manager on phone. The con men then direct the victims to a fake shop to buy a sample of the bearing and then take it to the manager.
Incidentally, when they meet a white man, he confirms that it is the type of bearing he has been looking for, but he needs at least 100 pieces. The victims often then rush back to Kampala to buy more pieces at Shs2m each in the same shop and drive back to the hotel.
It is at time that all con men switch off their mobile phones. The victims will neither find the white man nor the person who connected him or the owner of the shop they bought the pieces from. Most of the suspected focus bearing go for Shs30,000 on open market.
Real estate
This involves real estate companies claiming to have several prime plots near major highways. They advertise aggressively in the media to attract unsuspecting buyers of land and also give confidence to suppliers that they mean business. They then contact local companies to supply their company new cars, materials such as sand, cement and iron bars promising to pay back after issuing local purchasing orders. When they receive enough money from clients, and goods from suppliers, they close business and disappear.
The most recent case involved a company which allegedly conned 15 firms of Shs4 billion using the same trick. The same company opened two other companies - that defrauded other firms.
Sacco and pyramid scheme scams
If there are any fraudsters that have stolen from those who are trying to escape the vicious circle of poverty, they are the pyramid schemes and fake Saccos. They often operate both in rural and urban areas targeting market traders, farmers and retailers.
They start pyramid schemes that accept deposits from a group of people to work in the same area with a promise of giving them interest above 25 per cent per month in addition to low-rate loans that are not attached to collateral.
They give out loans and interests to a few members which attract a big number of people. When the group grows bigger and they have saved enough money, they close business and disappear.
The most common organisations that fleeced thousands of people of their money were Caring for Orphans, widows and the Elderly and Dutch International that operated in Uganda for a decade. The managers of the pyramid scheme were convicted and jailed early this year.
Bursary/sponsorship scams
If you think everyone sympathises with poor families struggling to educate their children, then you are wrong. These families are among the most vulnerable group to fraudsters through sponsorship and bursary scams. Con men open ‘ghost’ NGOs and move around villages announcing that they are giving out bursaries to needy children. They then demand Shs100,000 from each child for an application fee and for processing the documents. After collecting the money from several parents, they disappear and open another ‘NGO’ in a different area.
At least 2,000 police officers were reportedly defrauded of their money by an NGO with a promise to give bursaries to their children.
Jobs and lost and found scams
Often when people lose their valuable property, they run public announcements on radios with the view that someone who may have come across their property would contact them.
But of recent, criminals are taking advantage of the desperation of those who have lost their property to con them of their money.
After the person has announced his or her property in the media and indicated their contacts, they call the person, claiming to have recovered the property. The criminals will demand for rewards through mobile money transfers.
They will use the same information to announce on the same radio that certain items (using the same description you gave) were found (in a place you mentioned in an earlier announcement) and the contact of the person who found them. When you contact them, they first demand rewards and refunds through mobile money transfers.
Impersonation
Impersonators often target rich businesspeople who deal with government officials. These impersonators telephone their victims using mobile numbers similar to the one the person they are impersonating uses, they also mimic the voices of the person as they demand monetary help. When their victims accept, they then pretend that they are travelling out of the country but would send their personal assistants to pick the money.
Mobile money fraud
Fraudsters send short message of figures that appear like an authentic mobile money message to their victims. Shortly, they telephone the victim claiming that they mistakenly sent mobile money to them, but they request that the victim be kind and send half of the amount they sent back on money mobile and remain with the balance. Many victims are duped and send half the money only to realise later that they have lost money because the first message which they thought was genuine was fake. At least Shs200m was taken from victims last year according to Police Crime Report, 2012.
ATM scams
Fraudsters wait near Automated Teller Machine (ATM) booths for people who aren’t conversant with the machine’s operations. The fraudsters enter the booth as the clients try to withdraw money and willingly offer help. In the process, they access the password of their victims and later on help the clients withdraw money, but they swap the victims’ ATM cards for fake ones. Often clients don’t look at the name on their cards after receiving money. The fraudsters then go to another ATM booth and withdraw all money from the victim’s bank account.