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Police: scam story will be ‘instrumental in saving others’

Police have said that an article in The Royal Gazette exposing a $35,000 bank account scam at HSBC will prove “instrumental in saving others” from fraud.

A Bermuda Police Service officer made the comments in a letter to scamming victim Raj Hegde as they informed him they could take no further action in the matter as his money had ended up abroad in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mr Hegde, a sub-editor at The Royal Gazette, said he had been left “angry and offended” by the “vile” way HSBC had treated him since he reported the unauthorised withdrawal of the money from his current and savings accounts on June 16.

He said: “So, that's where we are ― the crooks, as always, get away with it.”

In a letter to Mr Hegde, a BPS officer said: “I have read over my supervisor’s notes and, unfortunately, he has concluded that the likelihood of identifying a possible suspect does not exist as the offenders are not in the jurisdiction of Bermuda.

“As a result, this event has been marked as ‘no further police action’ at this time.

“Apologies that this has happened to you, however, I read your article and believe that you will be instrumental in saving others from being involved in these scams.”

In 2021, island residents were cheated out of almost $4 million in online scams, police reported.

The BPS stated that hundreds of financial scams have taken place in Bermuda so far this year.

Butterfield Bank has said that fraud is a “constant” threat and “bad actors” are getting ever more sophisticated in how they try to scam customers by moving beyond e-mails and branching out into direct phone calls, text messages and social media.

Mr Hegde fell victim to a fake text message falsely claiming to be from One Communications.

The scam operated via a text falsely appearing to be from OneComm regarding a payment query.

It states: “One: We were unable to process your last bill payment. To avoid service suspension, update your details via onedebit.onebermuda.net.”

Mr Hegde clicked on the link and later discovered that $35,000 had gone from two of his accounts.

When Mr Hegde reported the incident to the bank, he was told that “a lot of people are losing money” through such scams.

HSBC wrongly told him three times that the money had been returned to his accounts only to then inform him that the $35,000 had “disappeared” and had been withdrawn by someone operating an account at the US bank Wells Fargo in the US.

When Mr Hegde lodged his complaint with the police, an officer told him that he had received the same scam message twice.

Suspected scams can be reported to the police by calling 211 or e-mailing 211@bps.bm.

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Published August 07, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated August 07, 2023 at 8:16 am)

Police: scam story will be ‘instrumental in saving others’

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