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Fraudulent messages prompt calls to guard against scams

A text message fraudulently claiming to be from Bermuda Worldwide Shipping (Image supplied)

A local shipping company has warned the public to be wary of messages fraudulently claiming that packages are waiting for them.

Ryan Moniz, operations manager at BDA Express, said they first began to receive calls about e-mails and messages which claimed to be sent by Bermuda Worldwide Shipping.

“It came in waves,” he said. “Initially it was one day that we were getting calls from people outside of our regular customer base.

“It wasn’t very many calls, so we didn’t put to much mind to it.

“But this week, particularly on Tuesday, we had so many calls. An overwhelming number of calls first thing in the morning basically telling us that they have received an e-mail or a text message with a link to a website that was identical to ours but not ours.”

Mr Moniz said that within 30 minutes on Tuesday morning, the company had received “well over” 30 calls stemming from the messages.

“Our IT guys said the origins of the text messages is in Pakistan, so definitely nothing to do with us or Bermuda,” he added.

A screenshot of one of the text messages shared with The Royal Gazette claimed: “Due to incomplete address the BWS package has arrived at the warehouse and cannot be delivered.”

The message included a link to a website similar to that of BWS and instructed recipients to confirm their address using the link.

While the fake website prompts individuals to provide their card information for their shipments coming into Bermuda, Mr Moniz said BWS never requests payment through its website.

Mr Moniz said the company had contacted the police about the messages, but that so far it had thankfully not heard any stories of people losing money to the scam.

He urged the public to disregard the messages and warned them not to provide any payment details.

Mr Moniz added that the real Bermuda Worldwide Shipping website ends with the Bermuda domain of “.bm”.

A police spokesman said: “The Bermuda Police Service is aware of this matter and an investigation is under way.”

Online fraudsters have been blamed for the theft of millions of dollars locally, with almost $4 million stolen in 2021 alone.

E-mail hustles accounted for 56 per cent of cases that year, social-media scams made up 22 per cent and a string of other tactics were employed for the other 22 per cent.

Scams in the early 2000s ranged from bogus messages from banks and the US Internal Revenue Service to the “UK International Lotto”.

E-mails said to be from credit card companies began to feature authentic-looking logos — and ironically claimed to be sent for security reasons.

“Phishing” e-mails copying Bermudian banks were rife by 2005, which prompted another round of police warnings.

Unsolicited e-mails that asked for an advance fee for an overseas lottery win or investment often used wire transfers to avoid getting traced, police said in 2009.

The “business e-mail compromise scam” in 2016 targeted companies where staff often made wire transfers.

More recently, scammers turned to social media, with police in 2019 sounding the alarm over a bogus Instagram account – again soliciting wire transfers for a payout through currency exchanges.

In 2022, police revealed that people caught up in a scam soliciting payment for goods that were never delivered lost an estimated $10,000.

Last March, the BPS issued a warning regarding giving out personal banking details after a man lost nearly $1,000 in a fraud centred on bedroom furniture being advertised on Instagram.

Police suggested in that case that the victim was contacted by an impostor claiming to be from the BPS cybercrimes unit seeking financial details.

Last July a man was scammed out of $35,000 after falling victim to a fake text message falsely claiming to be from One Communications requesting that he update his details though a fraudulent website.

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

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Published April 19, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 20, 2024 at 8:21 am)

Fraudulent messages prompt calls to guard against scams

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