BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 21, 2022– The Financial Intelligence Unit and the Belize Bankers Association have released separate press releases warning Belizean citizens of an ongoing phishing scam targeting locals, and according to the FIU, in some instances being carried out by locals on behalf of third parties.
Cybercriminals are currently targeting Belizean bank accounts, typically by contacting unknowing victims using fraudulent identities that seem reputable in order to extract sensitive data from those persons. Personal information, banking and credit card details, and passwords are acquired and used to illegally access and steal funds.
“The FIU notes that persons have been receiving emails purporting to be from their local bank and stating that they are required to update their bank account information and/or migrate to new online banking security settings. Following the instructions received, victims would have divulged sensitive banking credentials. In the hands of phishers, personal information is used to carry out fraudulent transfers of funds via online banking. There are increasing reports of breached banking accounts and subsequent fraudulent online transfer,” a release from the FIU states.
Customers of local banks are now being asked to go on high alert to avoid having their online accounts compromised.
“The Bankers Association of Belize advises customers that Banks will not send emails or other communication requesting the disclosure of personal banking information. Therefore, customers should not reply to any communication requesting personal banking information,” a release issued today by the Belize Banking Association states.
The FIU warns residents of the country who are working with those third parties to carry out phishing scams that they will be subject to having their accounts frozen and subsequent prosecution under the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Act.
“On the other hand, residents are being recruited via social media to harvest the proceeds of these crimes, and remit or transfer the value to criminal third parties, some of whom may reside overseas.” the FIU release states.
The release adds, “The FIU is conducting investigations into these reports of phishing schemes and will pursue prosecutions of perpetrators and their accomplices. Account-holders who permit their accounts to be misused to enable the transfer of illicit proceeds may be subject to the freezing of their accounts and subsequent prosecution to recover the proceeds of the crime. “
The Belize Bankers Association noted that disclosure of customers’ personal banking information that results in any compromise is the responsibility of the customer.
“Additionally, the Bankers Association strongly advises customers that they should avoid using their accounts to process transactions on behalf of third parties,” the release from the Bankers Associations states.