'Inventive' fraud on the rise in Oman
The Central Bank of Oman (CBO) has drawn the attention of the public to a number of suspicious financial activities and attempts of fraud. Such attempts are being made in different ways, employing subtle means. Such attempts are being made inventively, in different ways, employing subtle means and the following would indicate the modus operandi adopted in some of these cases:
• Certain fictitious and suspicious companies and individual from outside the Sultanate are contacting Omani citizens and expatriates through Internet and faxes claiming that they won lotteries/draws, or offering them some suspicious profitable transactions and trading deals in return of assisting them in getting access or some advantage of banking and financial facilities available in the Sultanate.
• It also includes speculative dealing in foreign currencies under the prevailing laws and regulations as such activity is among those already prohibited in the Sultanate. The so called dealers/brokers offering these services under what is dubbed Trade Representation/Agency activities on behalf of institutions based abroad, are not, in the strict sense, licensed by the CBO.
• The use of fake/stolen cheques drawn on banks abroad and the subsequent sale of these instruments to unsuspecting members of the public, after endorsement and at a discount, with the promise that the new holder (alleged payee) would be able to encash these at local banks realizing full value, thereby, assuring them that they would make a good profit.
• Fraudulent promise of loans in advance being made available against the surety of bank securities and /or fixed deposits.
• The offer to deposit substantial transfers from fictitious names/ accounts from abroad, either to the credit of their (Omani/expatriate) bank accounts or to the credit of companies in local bank, with the added promise that the respective account holders would, thereby, earn substantial sums, by way of commissions.
• Dealings with the local banks indirectly, through unauthorised persons who impress that they conduct normal banking transactions which, incidentally, also include the issue of fraudulent securities and the offer of fictitious investment abroad.
• Dealing with unauthorised Money Remitters (both individuals and establishments) who offers money transfers through some institutions /individuals under different names such as ‘portfolios’ and so on.
• Carrying out the business of collecting funds from Omani citizens and residents for the purpose of investment in different financial instruments, such as stocks and bonds, as well as speculation in foreign currencies and similar financial activities against predetermined interest rates paid monthly or according to the agreement.
CBO finds it timely to repeat its advice that members of the public should, in their own interests, be cautious and not to deal with strangers and unauthorised entities/persons.
They should confine all their financial dealings to licensed/regulated institutions. In case of any doubt, they should seek the advices of their banks and professionals in all aspects including the accredition, legality and reliability of the persons/institutions offering the products and services.