While the overseas money transfer market is largely regulated, there is no dearth of unscrupulous elements out of make a quick buck by targeting unsuspecting victims. In the first half of 2017, PNC’s Internal Control Group blocked more than 400 cases of wire fraud, which ended up saving around $12 million in losses.
When your money gets to someone in a foreign land, there is often little you can do to get it back. Your best bet, therefore, is to avoid all such scams in the first place.
Common Types of Scams
Here are some common scams that involve transfer of money from one country to another.
- Bait for quick money. You might hear from someone saying you have inherited a large sum from a long lost relative, you have won a lottery, or you have a great opportunity to work from home. In return, you need to make a payment to get the ball rolling. Do not fall for any such offer unless you can meet the person.
- All for love. You might meet someone online and fall in love. Then, the person might ask you for money to deal with an illness or even to come and meet you. Instead of wiring the money, consider taking a trip on your own to check if the supposed love even exists.
- Giving for charity. Some scamsters go down the road of pretending to need money for a worthy cause, such as supporting an orphanage or refugees affected by war. Carry out due diligence before wiring money to any such cause.
- Online purchase. When making international online purchases, it is best to stick to trustworthy websites. If an international seller wants you to wire money directly into a bank account without your having received the merchandise, it is reason enough to be wary.
- Fake invoicing. This happens when a criminal hacks into or imitates the email address of a company’s executive and sends fake invoices to existing customers, requesting them to make payments into nominated bank accounts within stipulated time frames. Having a robust invoicing system and confirming all payments helps avoid such instances.
- Fake check scams. You might receive a check from an unknown entity for a variety of reasons such as having won a lottery, as an overpayment, or as compensation for your services. Then, the sender will request you to send part or all the money back. Only, the check you receive is a fake one, and your bank does not get to find out immediately. Once it does, you are responsible for the money you withdrew.
Criminals continue to device new techniques to con people in sending money across borders, but you may avoid most such pitfalls by following a few simple measures.
- Take your time. Bear in mind that reversing an overseas money transfer is near impossible, so take your time to determine if the need to make that transfer is genuine. Never get rushed by anyone into make an overseas money transfer.
- Verify the purchase. If you are paying for a purchase, make sure what you are paying for really exists, and is available for sale. This is particularly important when making a large value transaction.
- Know who is at the other end. Scamsters can pretend to be just about anybody, from a woman deeply in love to prince who wishes to part with his fortunes. No matter who wants you to send money, make sure you are dealing with who you think you are.
- Meet in person. The recipient not wanting to meet you in person is a definite red flag.
- Beware of coaching. If the person you are interacting with is trying to coach you on how to handle questioning from fraud prevention analysts, you might want to back off immediately.
When you need to send money to a foreign country, make sure you work with a company that is registered with relevant regulatory bodies. Keep all the details related to your transactions secure and do not share the information with anyone. With deals that seem too good to be true, exercise due diligence.