The Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad (FIUTT) has reported that romance scams since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly increased, costing victims approximately $2.3 million in the last 18 months.
Near 100 victims have lodged reports with claims that they have been scammed.
This disclosure was made via an advisory to the public to be aware of such scams.
The FIUTT has advised that some indicators of romance scams including people who promise relationships, promised gifts, promised to visit T&T to engage or get married, give instructions to pay funds into a third party personal savings account (in T&T) for foreign shipping payments, claim to be sending cash with a gift, and Customs has held it until you pay a fee, or claim that the likely victim has to pay fees for anti-money laundering clearance.
Other indicators include people who claim that personal gifts and cash are being shipped through diplomatic channels.
The FIUTT has warned that if someone suspects an occurrence of a romance scam, they should stop communicating with the person immediately, never transfer money from a bank account or wire money to that “love interest” and should contact the bank immediately if one believes he/she sent or deposited money to a scammer.
It has advised that people should do internet searches on the person/whom they claim to be and do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture.
“That way, you will see if it’s linked to another person name or details that don’t match. Those are signs of a scam,” the FIUTT said.