CBO cautions people against financial frauds.
Muscat: The Central Bank of Oman (CBO) has decided to alert the public to the widespread suspicious financial activities and attempts at fraud in the country and abroad and the methods adopted by these fraudsters. The fraudsters work inventively in different ways, employing subtle means. A CBO statement has revealed the potential modus operandi in most cases of fraud. In some cases, certain fictitious and suspicious companies and individuals based outside the Sultanate have contacted Omani citizens and expatriates via the Internet or by fax, claiming that the victim has won a lottery or a draw or offering a suspicious but profitable transaction and trading deal in return for assisting them in gaining access to or taking advantage of banking and financial facilities available in the Sultanate. Other cases involve speculative dealing in foreign currencies. Under the prevailing laws and regulations, this activity is already prohibited in Oman. The so-called dealers or brokers offer these services through what has been dubbed trade representation or agency activity on behalf of institutions based abroad. They are not, in the strictest sense, licensed by the CBO. Some cases involve the use of fake or stolen cheques, drawn on banks abroad, and the subsequent sale of these instruments to unsuspecting members of the public. They come with an endorsement and are sold at a discount. The new holder (alleged payee) is promised that they will be able to encash these cheques at local banks for their full value, thereby assuring the victims of a good profit. Some criminals make fraudulent promises to offer loans, when backed in advance by the surety of bank securities and/or fixed deposits. Victims have sometimes received offers to accept substantial transfers from fictitious people or accounts in banks abroad and are asked to credit them to their own bank accounts or to the local bank accounts of corporations, with the added promise that the account holders will, thereby, earn a substantial sum as a commission. It is also dangerous to deal with local banks indirectly through unauthorised persons who make assurances that they are conducting normal banking transactions and ultimately issue fraudulent securities and or offer fictitious investments in companies abroad. Dealings with unauthorised money remitters (both individuals and establishments), who affect money transfers overseas through telegraphic transfers, pre-signed and post-dated cheques, cash invoices, and so on, can also lead to fraud. Some institutions and individuals masquerading as "portfolio experts," among other things, have surfaced lately. They collect funds from Omani citizens and residents for the purpose of investment in various financial instruments, such as stocks and bonds; for speculation in foreign currencies; and for similar financial activities. These investments are all made against predetermined interest rates that are paid monthly or in accordance with an agreement. The CBO believes it is necessary to repeat its advice to the public to be cautious and to avoid dealing with strangers and unauthorised entities or people. The public should restrict all their financial dealings to licensed/regulated institutions. If any doubts arise, they should seek the advice of their banks and professionals for all aspects of the deal, including assessing the accreditation, legality, and reliability of the persons or institutions offering financial products and services. They should immediately report any unauthorised and suspicious approaches to the Royal Oman Police.
Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2013
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