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‘Cheque Washing’ Widespread In Fiji: Buksh

Cheque fraud which the Director of Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit Razim Buksh describes as ‘cheque washing’ is becoming a wide­spread problem in Fiji. His remarks come in the wake of
18 Dec 2018 11:46
‘Cheque Washing’ Widespread In Fiji: Buksh

Cheque fraud which the Director of Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit Razim Buksh describes as ‘cheque washing’ is becoming a wide­spread problem in Fiji.

His remarks come in the wake of an alleged fraud racket by a crime syndicate. As many as 10 local companies and some banks have allegedly been caught out by the racket. The crime syndicate conducted transactions grossing over hundreds of thousands of dollars using fake bank cheques and remittance orders and had these companies deliver the goods prior to discovering the inauthenticity of the cheques and remittance order.

Mr Buksh defines cheque wash­ing as the use of smarter and more complex techniques.

They involve firstly erasing details, such as the name of payee and amount from person­al, company and bank cheques and rewriting new payee name and amount.

“The signature on the cheques are usually not erased or al­tered,” he said.

He added there were many smart techniques of removing printed ink from the cheques.

“Cheque washing is a crimi­nal offence under the Crimes Act and members of the public and businesses are advised to be vigilant when receiving unusual purchase orders and should ex­ercise caution when receiving suspicious cheque payments.”

Chairman of the Association of Banks in Fiji Rakesh Ram said people needed to be aware of who they were doing busi­ness with to ensure they were genuine and transactions con­ducted were bonafide.

“If you have accepted cheques and the goods are delivered before your cheque has been cashed, you are exposed any­way,” said Mr Ram.

“So by the time the fake cheque hits the bank and the cheque is rejected, you have already lost the goods you have supplied.

“So customers particularly need to be careful and ensure that you are banking with the right people.”

He added banks made op­erational losses like fraud and these had now become one of the biggest losses for the banks not only in Fiji but internation­ally as well.

“I can assure you that banks spend millions of dollars on technology so that they are able to detect any fraud,” he said.

“We also send regular advice to our staff in terms of third-party checks.”

The spokesperson for ANZ Vic­toria Kanevsky said the bank would investigate any reports of fraudulent activity and con­tinued to monitor and adapt to the external environment and changing nature of fraud, scams and fraudulent attacks.

The remarks come after the crime syndicate allegedly used a fake payment receipt which gave the impression it came from ANZ bank.

The receipt containing an ANZ logo documented a transaction where a payment of $23200 was made on behalf of Nadro Tyre Supplies Pte Ltd to Roadtech Tyre Company Ltd.

“The payment receipt is not genuine and did not come from ANZ,” she said.

She added ANZ used ANZ Fal­con which is a world-class fraud monitoring tool.

“We also have a specialist fraud team which operates 24 hours a day reviewing customer ac­counts that have had suspicious activity occur. We work with in­dustry and government bodies to protect our customers against fraud,” said Ms Kanevsky.

ANZ has given the following tips on how customers can protect themselves from fraudsters:

– Sign up to a safe and trusted internet banking platform so you can see your account bal­ance and payments 24/7. Don’t release goods until you can see money is in your account.

– Examine sender details carefully, watching for numbers or characters that have been swapped.

– Be wary of last minute changes to payment instruc­tions, especially if made out of normal business hour. Confirm new invoice details with sup­pliers using a phone number known to you, not the one on a suspicious invoice

– Keep your contact details with the bank up to date

– Keep personal informa­tion and online banking details secure – always think twice be­fore sharing personal informa­tion over the phone or online, including contact number, date of birth, home address, bank details

– Don’t respond to emails which ask you for personal in­formation

– Make sure your social media profiles are private and avoid sharing personal information

– For business owners, ensure staff handling payments are trained to recognise suspicious emails

Westpac and BSP said they would not be adding further comments to what Mr Ram said.

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