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Seniors Warned Against Vicious Online Scammers

Seniors Warned Against Vicious Online Scammers

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‘If you don’t have a ticket, you don’t have a chance.’ This popular slogan of the lotto game was laid down as a marker for senior citizens to avoid falling prey to scammers and losing their money. That sage advice came from Inspector Stacey-Ann Powell of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime (C-TOC) unit while addressing scores of seniors on Thursday, February 11, during Flow Jamaica’s Safer Internet Week 2021 Seniors’ Forum – Online Safety and You.

Scamming, which falls under the Law Reform Fraudulent Transaction Special Provisions Act of 2013, has become popular in Jamaica. Unfortunately, in the western part of the country, there has been a significant uptick in scamming. There is now a major arm of the security apparatus, the Lottery Scam Task Force, based in Montego Bay, St. James.

“Scamming is alive and well in Jamaica,” said Inspector Powell.

“You have won the lotto”, “and that’s the biggest thing in Jamaica in terms of a [scamming] call. But you did not buy a ticket. Remember, even when the promoters of lottery in Jamaica are advertising their products [they say] if you don’t have a ticket, you don’t have a chance. So, if you didn’t buy a ticket in the first place, there’s no way you can have a chance. Be alert and operate responsibly,” she affirmed.

According to the Fraud Squad, the latest cybercrime trend relates to the advertising and sale of devices online.

“They’ll post a computer or any other device online for sale at a low cost. Once persons indicate their desire to purchase these items, they [online scammers posing as sellers] will provide the account information from a reputable financial institution for payments to be made,” relayed Inspector Powell.

“When payments are made to these accounts, the persons who they would have interacted with on social media [online scammers posing as sellers] delete their accounts and buyers are unable to contact them. However, the victims are still not in receipt of the items that they purchased. So, it’s important to be clear about [with whom] you are conducting business online.”

Given that scamming is practised with the use of telecommunications devices and internet use has ramped up tremendously over the past year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, this forum was crafted specifically to help elders understand the dangers associated with online activities.

“We have to understand what is happening in our space… act responsibly and recognize that there are negative implications if we act otherwise. Guard your banking information,” warned Inspector Powell.

Seniors More Vulnerable

According to the senior cop, senior citizens are more vulnerable to scams because they may be unable to keep up with the latest technology and are trusting. As a remedy, she shared clues to spot scamming online and pitfalls to avoid.

“Never share your password and, for security, ensure that it is 13 characters or more,” she said about safety measures. “Never leave your device unattended; seek to understand the privacy policies for the different social media platforms that you log into; monitor online activities; and do not share your personal data or information unless you have a valid reason to do so,” shared Inspector Powell.

She also encouraged seniors to avoid phishing emails requesting information on personal bank accounts and notifications about unsolicited lottery winnings.

“The internet is very good, but it can be a dangerous place, so use it with caution,” said Inspector Powell.

Scotiabank Customer Services Representative, Robin Williams, outlined a raft of online banking services. She also noted full recourse if a customer suffers from fraudulent activity and is not at fault.

“Scotiabank platforms are highly secured,” said Williams. “We operate in a highly secured environment. And we want our customers to know that we will fully reimburse you in the unlikely event that you suffer direct financial losses due to unauthorised activity in your account through Scotia Online Financial Services, provided that you have met your security responsibilities.”

Flow’s Safer Internet Week observed the global theme – ‘Together for a Better Internet’. The focus was the importance of digital responsibility and the measures people, specifically young persons and seniors, can safely use the internet. Go over to Flow Jamaica’s YouTube channel to view events from the week of activities.

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