Interpol on Online Scams: It Might Not Be Too Late For Money Recovery
INTERPOL shows that taking action quickly can intercept funds lost to online financial fraud
From denial to anger to acceptance, victims of financial fraud often go through grief and trauma when a scam is discovered. But this is the worst time, since time may be of the essence for money recovery!
Too often, victims of online scams will be reluctant to take action once they realize they have been defrauded, feeling shame or assuming that it is already too late to get their money back. But money recovery can often happen if victims act fast. This is especially true in the case of bank wire transfers.
According to Interpol: frontline police officers can also be unsure as to what should be done for money recovery, especially when the scams contain an international component such as cross-border financial transactions.
However, an INTERPOL toolkit shows that even after a victim’s money has been transferred from their account, it could still be possible to intercept the funds.
Entitled “Take Action: Urgent Stop-Payment Requests and Provisional Money-Freezing Orders” and visible to law enforcement only, the toolkit is being shared across INTERPOL’s network of 194 member countries.
A webinar on the same subject was held on Wednesday 29 July 2020 for over 500 representatives of law enforcement, national financial intelligence units (FIUs) and international anti-money laundering bodies, with more than 100 countries represented. Interpol is doing its part to facilitate money recovery, but victims can help make their local police aware of these resources.
Act NOW – Call Your Bank, Call The Police
“Many people think that there is nothing that can be done once a victim’s money is transferred abroad but there are systems in place to recall fraudulent transactions,” said Tomonobu Kaya, Financial Crimes Coordinator at INTERPOL.
“The first course of action should always be for the victim to contact their bank, inform them that the transaction was fraudulent and urge them to make a recall request on their dedicated bank-to-bank communication system to the beneficiary bank abroad,” Mr Kaya added.
Bank Wire Transfer Money Recovery – How It Works: On receipt of a recall request, the bank that emitted the fraudulent transfer will send a message requesting cancellation of the payment to the beneficiary bank by following the same route taken by the victim’s money. As long as the funds have not already been withdrawn from the beneficiary bank by the perpetrators, there is a good chance that the funds can be blocked and refunded. Just as importantly, many banks when presented with proof of the crime will voluntarily return all or part of the victim’s money!
No Time To Waste
If the victim can identify the beneficiary bank themselves, it is also worth contacting that bank directly.
Free online tools can be used to locate the beneficial bank, based on the individual and unique taxonomy of each account number in combination with the bank code. Another quick search using the beneficiary’s bank’s name and the keywords “complaint” or “online contact” should then shows victims the appropriate point of contact.
Find A Bank By SWIFT CODE: Locating Banks By Swift Code
Find A Bank By Routing Number For An Account: ABA Routing Number Lookup (1 of 2)
While these two courses of action are pivotal in the immediate term, the Interpol toolkit consolidated and promoted by INTERPOL also describes further channels and steps law enforcement can take to intercept and recover the proceeds of financial fraud. These include liaising with dedicated points of contact within INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus or domestic FIUs.
“The bottom line is that neither victims nor police officers should feel powerless when confronted with online financial fraud,” said Jose de Gracia, Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Criminal Networks division.
“There are systems in place and people to help intercept fraudulent transactions. The key is to call your bank, call the police and – most importantly – act quickly. When it comes to combating online scams and other types of fraud, there is no time to waste.”
But just contacting the bank is not enough – they may put a temporary hold on the receiving account, but unless your law enforcement follows through they will remove the hold and the money will be lost.
When Talking To The Police Initially Or Following Up
Not all police even know it exists.
Remember, the police are busy and are not always experts in transnational cybercrime. This is relatively NEW – not all police even know it exists. Go back or call them and tell them that this resource exists. It just might make the difference between getting your money back or not!
You have to be your own advocate with the police. Do not get lost in the story, always stick to the facts – who said what does not matter, it was all lies anyway. What matters are the basic facts and that this is a crime. Always insist that they take a report and give you a report number – when reporting to a police agency through an online portal they will give you such a number – do not lose it! Then follow up with this information to make sure they know something can be done!
Of course, if the crime was several years ago, then probably nothing can be done about this, BUT it is worth talking to your police’s cybercrime unit. Most cybercrime units are new – less than 2 years old and will be more responsive to the information you have. They may not be able to help you, but it may also give them the information they can use now.
This is not the only thing you have to do! Be sure to read our articles on interacting with the police for more guidance.
You can also use our site search to find more!