Cybercrime is not very common in Belize, at least not yet. But internet scam artists are making their way into the country and it appears that they are presently out to steal your money through your online bank account. The Management of Heritage Bank has sounded the alarm on this. Managing Director, Stephen Duncan has issued a warning to the public after several of their customers became victims of an online scam. How are these phishing scams occurring? Duncan said internet scam artists are using online links to lure people to unknowingly share their personal banking information. He says these links are being received via emails.
Stephen Duncan, Managing Director, Heritage Bank: “People are trying to get access to accounts and in so doing I think they are preying on something that we are all probably guilty of from time to time where to access certain sites you click on links. And so they send an email which suggests ‘okay click on this link to update your account or do something or the other to your account.’ and when you click on the link it takes you to a fictitious site behind the scenes where when you try to log in to your online banking they are able then to capture your information which they then use to go to the correct site to access your account and that is in a nutshell that is a basic understanding of what has been happening. We have been trying to get people to not click on links especially when they are dealing with banks. You have the site, you know the site you go and do your think yourself and if in doubt contact the bank. We’ve seen different types and interactions of it, they have different email addresses, some try to use the Heritage Bank address, we’ve seen other bank’s address as well so once you click on that link and you try to log in not all the addresses are correct but the idea is really to get you to click on that link. There is another component to it where there is a middle man so to speak where a Belizean who then might have an account with us is used because in taking it out of your account they then put it in another account and they get that other party to collaborate with them and they get that party to send the money to them. We’ve seen where money has been sent via Moneygram and Western Union to somebody in Nigeria and then the local person who has an account gets his or her cut.”
Duncan said the scam forced them to close down the on-line portion of their banking service on Thursday. They have been able to identify the patterns used by the hackers and have taken steps to address the matter. He adds that their online banking is up and running today, with new security features. These include passwords and personalized codes. The Police has been informed of the situation.