–On “Package Delivery Scams” and/ or “Romance Scams”
Further to the public advisory published by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in May 2021, highlighting the existence of persons within Guyana who are actively involved with international partners in the commission of what is referred to as “Package Delivery Scams”, I wish to emphasize that this phenomenon continues to be a concern.
The Package Delivery or Romance Scammers emerged following the period of the Covid-19 pandemic around March 2020. This scam specifically targets persons via several social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The methodology used by the scammers is to befriend unsuspecting persons via the aforementioned digital platforms. After some time used to build trust with their “new friend” or “love interest”, the scammer promises the intended victim some form of assistance. This, in most instances, is supposedly a “package” containing valuable gift items such as designer clothing, jewellery, televisions, cell phones and other electronic devices. The victim is usually contacted by a local associate of the scammer, confirming the arrival of the package and requesting their personal contact and other information. The intended victim is subsequently contacted again and requested to deposit money to a specified local bank account or send via a money transfer agency (MTA). They advise that the payment is required to cover brokerage fees, customs duties, penalties and/or shipping charges for the package(s), which was found on inspection to have very “valuable items”.
Once the payment is made, the scammers discontinue all contact with the victim. In some instances, requests are made for additional payments, for various reasons which may sound plausible to unsuspecting individuals.
Specific message to the public: If you or someone you know are approached via Email, Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS, etc., and promised gifts or Covid-19 related financial or other assistance, Beware! This may be a SCAM. DO NOT share any personal information, transfer or deposit money into the bank account of persons you meet online and do not know very well.
If you believe that you are a victim of the ‘Romance or Package Delivery Scam’, report it IMMEDIATELY to the nearest Police Station.
The FIU continues to work very closely with Reporting Entities (banks and money transfer agencies) and law enforcement authorities (GPF/SOCU) in addressing this phenomenon. Law enforcement is actively investigating a number of these cases and have arrested and interviewed several of the parties involved. Over twenty (20) fraud charges have been filed against some of these individuals. Additional fraud and money laundering charges are being considered.
Specific message to persons involved in perpetrating these crimes: The FIU working closely with our local and international law enforcement partners are committed to tracking you down and will ensure that you face the full force of the law for these crimes.