GABORONE-Botswana Authorities have raised a red flag over what they called an increase in the proliferation of cyber criminality in the form of virtual assets, in particular, bitcoins and illegal online investment schemes.
The Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) in Botswana said the rise of trade online get rich quick schemes has the potential to inflict financial losses to unsuspecting members of the public who are hoodwinked to indulge in these with the hope of making a quick buck.
“These scams promise unsuspecting members of the public a quick financial return and normally rely on social media platforms for recruitment,” FIA said in a statement.
FIA said they were issuing the advisory statement to enhance public awareness around online scams and fireproof members of the public from falling prey to the fraudsters.
“The advisory is based on FIA’s analysis of financial disclosures filed by specified parties, information from open sources and law enforcement partners,” FIA said.
According to the financial intelligence watchdog in Botswana fraudsters present a purported opportunity to invest in foreign exchange promising quick and high returns.
“Individuals are usually incentivized to recruit more people by receiving tiered commissions. With this type of scam, the emphasis is placed less on trading but more on recruiting new members through deceptive, dishonest and fraudulent means,” FIA said.
The also added that “Our observation is that the Investors’ funds are instead diverted and laundered to finance assets such as vehicles, real estate and to support lavish lifestyles of the Fraudsters while the Investors are left with huge financial losses.”
The Financial intelligence arm in Botswana also warned that criminals are exploiting advances in technology to drive acts of criminality.
“With the increased online usage, cybercrime continues to rise in scale and complexity affecting businesses and individuals alike. The FIA has observed an increasing trend in financial crimes related to virtual currencies, particularly cryptocurrency scams. A cryptocurrency scam involves a promise to act as an agent and trade in crypto on behalf of the individual investors,” they said.
FIA said they have observed a trend where criminals use social media platforms such as WhatsApp to create investment groups and lure a large number of people to the group.
“The group members would be provided account details to deposit initial capital and top-ups for investment. Electronic money wallets and deposit-taking automated teller machines are also used to channel contributions for investment.
“Often, after collecting the deposits from a sizeable number of people, the Fraudsters would delete the WhatsApp group, stop communicating and block communication from all the WhatsApp group members,” FIA said.
The Financial intelligence arm also discouraged people from investing with individuals or entities that are not licensed and regulated, investment schemes that are driven through social media platforms by strangers and called on members of the public to watch out for promises of high returns on investment, normally within a short period.
In Botswana, the FIA keeps strict surveillance on any flaws of illicit financial trading.