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AfricaMoney | August 18, 2017

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Bank of Mauritius alerts public and suggests tools to combat financial crime

Bank of Mauritius alerts public and suggests tools to combat financial crime

Common categories of financial crimes are detailed, such as Ponzi schemes, Pyramid schemes, identity fraud, phishing, skimming, counterfeit cards, advance fee scams, fund transfer scams, fake cheque scams, fake prizes, inheritance scams, international lottery fraud and finally, the promise of legacies under false wills.(Image: Elfagr)

In line with the new mandate bestowed upon the central bank, the Bank of Mauritius (BoM) has put out a slew of educational material in the public space, cautioning people against common categories of financial crime, and suggesting tools to combat the same.

Under its mandate to educate the public on financial services, the BoM had established a Market Intelligence Cell (MI Cell) in December 2013, and it is the MI Cell of the central bank that has released both a brochure and presentation on ‘Fighting Financial Crime’ today, October 16, 2014.

The material set out details the common categories of financial crimes such as Ponzi schemes, Pyramid schemes, identity fraud, phishing, skimming, counterfeit cards, advance fee scams, fund transfer scams, fake cheque scams, fake prizes, inheritance scams, international lottery fraud and finally, the promise of legacies under false wills.

It then goes on to suggest steps that can be taken to protect oneself from financial crime, like keeping all personal information, identity cards and bank cards safe at all times; keeping PIN numbers secret; avoiding writing down PIN numbers or storing them with bank cards; and, not disclosing bank account details or other security information to any person or website unless their identity and authenticity can be verified.

Further, the MI Cell alerts people against giving money to people who offer to place it with a bank on one’s behalf for a rate of return higher than the prevailing rate, and advises them to place their money only at authorized financial institutions.

Regarding the ubiquitous usage of bank cards, the MI Cell alerts the public not to get distracted when using the bank card, and if something wrong or suspicious is seen with an ATM, to go ahead and report the same.

It also advises the public against letting anyone else use their card; monitoring monthly credit cards statements and other bank statements carefully for suspicious transactions; reporting theft or loss of card promptly on the 24-hour telephone numbers that most issuers make available for free; exercising care when using cards to make payments online by ensuring that the card verification value is only disclosed on secure payment websites.

Finally, the MI Cell advises the public to exercise financial literacy and be careful when signing any financial contract. It notes that it is essential for a signatory to a financial contract to read the small print carefully, and ask for clarifications and advice from independent sources if needed.

And, if all precautions fail, and a member of the public finds himself staring financial crime in the face, the MI Cell requests the concerned individual to contact the central bank toll-free on 149.

Overall, the MI Cell assists the Bank in the fight against financial crime by, first, gathering information on market abuse in line with BoM’s mandate; conducting special examinations and investigations; examining fraud reports from Financial Institutions; identifying risk areas in Financial Sector; and finally, creating awareness and providing advice on risks areas.

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