The Bank of Namibia has warned of an increasing number of scammers seeking unsolicited financial assistance from Namibians by pretending to finance the country’s developmental agenda through targeting senior public figures, including politicians and civil servants. These scams are known as ‘419 scams’, and are popularly known to trick victims into paying a certain amount of money to fraudsters by duping unsuspected participants of non-existent investment funds.
These scammers target senior political and church leaders or their relatives on the basis that they have investment funds in foreign accounts available to finance the country’s developmental agenda, including the construction of mega-projects. They claim to offer huge financial rewards to Namibians, on condition that individuals should first pay a certain amount of money to the fraudster to cover certain expenses, such as banking fees and administrative costs before the fraudsters deposit the funds in the victim’s account or their organisations.
“It should be made abundantly clear that the Bank of Namibia does not receive money nor facilitate any transactions on behalf of individuals,” read a statement from the central bank.
The Bank added that it has noted some perpetrators send their victims a fake MT103 swift payment, purportedly to prove the funds have been deposited in the local account of the victim, after which the victim is required to pay some initial fees to access those funds. An MT103 is a standardised authenticated SWIFT payment message used specifically for cross-border/international wire transfers. MT103s are globally accepted as proof of payment, and include all payment details such as date, amount, currency, sender and recipient.
“However, only commercial banks and financial institutions are authorised to utilise MT103 swift payment instructions, and those produced by the scammers are most likely fake, and only used to purportedly indicate that funds within such accounts are legitimate. The Bank of Namibia advises that members of the public should abstain from paying and parting with their hard-earned money to such scammers, and they are further advised to verify investment companies with the various regulatory authorities. If you fall victim to these types of scams, you can register a case with the Namibian Police for further investigation and criminal charges,” the bank stated.
These scams are usually facilitated through the internet and social media platforms, and continue to be rife because it is increasingly difficult to prosecute international scammers.