BVI News

Money laundering scheme targeting banks & hotels, FIA warns

The Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) has issued a warning about a money laundering scheme that has been targeting the banking and hospitality industries in recent times.

In a release issued yesterday, the FIA said the scheme was being executed by unknown individuals using legitimate businesses and individuals’ identification information.

According to the release, the perpetrators have been making false reservations at hotels and guest houses using the names of reputable individuals and businesses. 

Reservations are then paid for using a cashier’s cheque to the bank account of the hotel or guest house. These reservations, the FIA advised, are later cancelled with a request made for a refund through email.

The hotel or guest house would facilitate the refund by cheque, the Agency said, so the ill-gotten gains would then be introduced into a financial institution from an apparently legitimate source. 

Any amount that is kept by the hotel or guest house as a cancellation fee is usually written off by the money launderer as the cost of business. 

The Agency further warned that the fraudulent electronic scam may appear legitimate at first glance since they can be highly sophisticated and perpetrated by familiar persons or businesses. 

The FIA asked that persons report money laundering schemes or any other suspicious activity by completing the Suspicious Activity Report form at https://tinyurl.com/SAR-Form. This should then be submitted to the Agency via email at [email protected].

For further information or clarification, the Agency can be contacted at (284)-852-3200.

 

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9 Comments

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  1. Pretty pretty pretty says:

    Pretty smart

  2. how? says:

    so they use a cashiers check issued from a bank so its already clean money so why is this laundering? It might be bank fraud but not moneyy laundering, perhaps they need to update themselves on the law.

  3. I know right says:

    I was wondering same thing when I read this. I reread a few times especially being a bank worker. Made me question my learnings.

  4. Popeye says:

    They misrepresented how this common scam works. 1) The perp makes and reservation and pays in advance in full with a fake check. 2) The victim deposits the fake check. 3) The perp then cancels and asks the victim to wire transfer (or mail certified check, or less often send gift cards) the money back less the cancellation fee. 3) The victim transfers their money to the perp and a couple of weeks later they learn that the perp’s check is bogus.

  5. Mandingo says:

    Stop being so daft. It must be a fake cashiers check and not a legit one.. smh

  6. Easier says:

    to just publish the names of the banks issuing these cashier’s checks to warn the hotels and guest houses.

  7. Scheme says:

    appears to be incorrectly explained in this FIA new article. The author should have written:
    1. Money laundering scheme depends wholly on the speed/timing of the clearing of cashier’s cheques.
    2. Fake reservation is paid with a FAKE cashier’s cheque from a real bank.
    3. Fake reservation is cancelled BEFORE the fake cashier’s cheque can be verified by the hotel/guest house’s bank.
    4.Refund from the hotel/guest house has to be paid by e-mail to a real bank account in a real bank BEFORE the fake cashier’s cheque can be verified by the hotel/guest house’s bank.

  8. Big Richard says:

    Money laundering scheme. HOA has been doing this for years. Ask Anchor Andy

  9. Hotelier says:

    The FIA are not though. This is not a money laundering scam. It is a fraud. The bookings are paid for using cheques paid into a bank in BVI drawn on a bank in a foreign country.

    The most common form of the scam is that the payer claims to have added an extra zero to the cheque by mistake. . So they have paid $100,000 for example instead of $10,000. If the hotel looks at their bank account they will see the balance of $100,000 in their account. The scammer asks the hotel to pay back the $90,000. Hotels do.

    The problem is that the $100,000 is in uncleared funds. Cheques written on foreign banks take up to 30 days to clear in BVI banks. At the end of 30 days the original cheque for $100,000 bounces. The hotel is then out $90,000. Naturally no one turns up for the booking.

    The scam is possible because BVI banks, about the most backward and useless on the planet, do not show the difference between cleared and uncleared funds.

    The scam has been worked on hotels and boats and anywhere that takes bookings.

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