World Bank warns against scams using its name

19 Aug 19

Scammers have increasingly been using the World Bank’s name to give authenticity to ‘advance fee' fraud schemes.

The bank issue a warning on Friday last week for potential investors to steer clear of investment deals that appear to be affiliated with the organisation.

The World Bank provides loans and grants to poorer countries, and is not a commercial bank, it reminded last week.

“We've seen increased use of sophisticated forms and letterhead to send what appears to be legitimate World Bank Group correspondence, as well as several schemes that reference the bank,” the Washington-based body said in its statement.

“Also, scam artists sometimes falsely represent themselves as bank auditors or members of the [bank's] West African Regional Delegation.”

Advanced fee fraud schemes ask potential victims to provide personal information such as signatures or bank account information, and to pay certain advance fees, often described as processing fees or finder’s fees. In return, the potential victim is promised sums of money that the scammer has no intention of paying.

Many of the advance fee fraud schemes originate in Nigeria, but, recently, two new schemes have surfaced in South Africa.

The South African scams have involved asking for a potential investor to open a personal account at the bank and telephone calls telling potential victims they have won money that can be redeemed at the bank.

Police have estimated that thousands of advance fee fraud solicitations are sent by email every week, addressed to individuals and companies around the world. Scams affiliated with the World Bank are a small part of that, the bank said.

But it added: “The World Bank Group has no involvement in such schemes, and we would like to caution the public to be wary of these and other similar solicitations that falsely claim to be affiliated with the World Bank Group or any member of the World Bank Group.”

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