Police have warned Cypriot online vendors to be wary of the ‘advanced fee’ scam which has been duping unsuspecting business owners across the island.
The particular scam specifically targets online suppliers who are approached by con artists posing as buyers interested in their products.
The alleged buyer then informs the vendor that he will send an amount greater than the price of the goods asking the vendor to send the difference to an alternate destination citing different reasons.
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The alleged buyer usually provides a fake bank transfer notice to the vendor, ‘proving’ the transfer of funds.
According to the Cybercrime unit, vendors have, in good faith, transferred the difference to the alternate destination provided by the alleged buyer without waiting for the wire transfer to clear.
The loss to the supplier is usually the ‘difference’ in amounts but in some cases, the vendors have also sent off their products before eventually realising that the wire transfer was indeed fake losing not only their products but also money.
Tips for Avoiding Advanced Fee Schemes:
- If the offer of an “opportunity” appears too good to be true, it probably is. Follow common business practice. For example, legitimate business is rarely conducted in cash on a street corner.
- Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you plan on spending, you may want to visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.
- Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you enter into. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.
- Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address. Also be suspicious when dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line and who are never in when you call, but always return your call later.
- Be wary of business deals that require you to sign nondisclosure or non-circumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying the bona fides of the people with whom you intend to do business. Con artists often use non-circumvention agreements to threaten their victims with civil suit if they report their losses to law enforcement.