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FBI contacted about $38,000 lost in Bermudian bank scam

A scam victim is appealing to the FBI to investigate the loss of $38,000 from his local bank account via a US bank

The victim of a scam in which $38,000 was taken from his HSBC account in Bermuda has appealed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance.

As the missing funds were sent to a bank in the US, the FBI may have have jurisdiction in the matter.

Raj Hegde, 53, a sub-editor at The Royal Gazette, fell victim to a fake text message claiming to be from One Communications, his mobile service provider.

He said HSBC had behaved in a “disgraceful“ manner since he alerted it to the fraud on June 16.

After being told three times by bank representatives that the money was being returned to his accounts, HSBC Bermuda said the funds had “disappeared“ and were withdrawn from a Phoenix, Arizona branch of Wells Fargo.

Mr Hedge sought assistance from San Francisco-headquartered Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the US by assets, but received no help.

“I am trying to contact someone responsible at Wells Fargo,” he said.

“It's a challenge because these banks are designed to keep you at arm's length if it's anything that shines a light on their negligence.

“I went to the FBI because my money entered the United States, putting the case under the purview of the agency.

Mr Hegde said he had contacted the FBI online and filled out a form explaining the situation and asking the bureau to look into the matter as the money was taken in the US.

While the FBI focuses on federal crimes and local law enforcement normally handles theft cases, it has jurisdiction over cybercrimes, including online fraud, many crimes involving federally chartered banks and most cross-border cases.

In its 2022 Internet Crime Report, the bureau noted that phishing was the top cybercrime complaint last year.

The scam that resulted in Mr Hedge’s accounts being drained began with a text message appearing to be from OneComm.

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 the link and later discovered that money had vanished from two of his accounts.

In total, he lost $38,490.61. He was also charged $30 in commissions on the two wire transfers used to take money from his HSBC Bermuda accounts.

He lodged a complaint with the police but was told no further action would be taken as the money ended up abroad.

To a short list of questions about the missing funds, the bank said: “HSBC does not comment on queries related to customers or purported customers of the bank due to reasons of confidentiality.”

It advised victims of scams to contact the police.

In 2021, island residents were cheated out of almost $4 million in online scams, the Bermuda Police Service reported. The BPS stated that hundreds of financial scams have taken place in Bermuda so far this year.

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

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Published August 11, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated August 11, 2023 at 7:33 am)

FBI contacted about $38,000 lost in Bermudian bank scam

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