Fraud Alert Detective Assistant Inspector Tom Muleya
In my previous article I talked about fraudulent flight bookings, particularly those targeted at desperate patients who intend to visit the Synagogue Church Of All Nations in Nigeria (SCOAN) for remedy.
I made mention that the victims are the afflicted people who are suffering from various diseases and have lost hope in medical institutions, traditional healers and great men and women of God in our Country: Their only hope for healing is SCOAN.
Apart from targeting religious people, similar scams are rampant amongst those travelling to the Far East and other countries for business. The scammers pose as agents who can facilitate flight arrangements.
It is, however, important to note that fraudulent bookings are not only limited to flight bookings but also involve any other travelling bookings which may include rail, road and marine travel. In order to avoid falling victim to fraudulent bookings, I suggest the following tips:
Observe due diligence
Do some independent research before entering into any travel arrangement. Understanding what is involved in the travel industry will go a long way to ensure that you do not unnecessarily lose your money. If for any reason you are not able to do the research yourself, ask an honest friend or relative to do it for you.
Check the legitimacy of the agent
Dealing with a company or person that is compliant with the country’s laws guarantees your safety. In this regard, you need to establish whether the company is registered with the Registrar of Companies.
This action should be followed by verifying with the Travel Agents Board to find out if an agent is licensed to conduct such business.
Check with relevant authorities
Most people who are defrauded are those intending to travel for the first time. Fraudsters take advantage of victim’s ignorance on the requirements for travelling. You would do yourself justice by visiting airport officials and make some inquiries on your intended journey as well as obtaining information on recognised travelling agents. Remember to consult the right person or official at the airport, otherwise you may fall into the hands of a fraudster.
Consult friends who have been to your intended country of visit before
This will enable you to understand the travel requirements as well as identify possible places of help.
Avoid ad-hoc journeys
Victims engaging in unplanned journeys render themselves vulnerable to fraudsters. Fraudsters find it so simple to fleece someone who is in a rush. Decide beforehand and plan your journey accordingly.
Avoid consulting unfamiliar people
If you are dealing with an agent for the first time, keep a watchful eye on the agent. What I mean here is that the agent remains your chief suspect until you are satisfied that he is legitimate.
Do not be overwhelmed by desperation.
If you succumb to pressure, you are most likely to make regrettable decisions.
Check with the police for scams currently obtaining in the travel industry.
Remember, you should not be a fraud victim!
- This article is published in line with the ZRP Theme of the year 2012 “ZRP for Total Peace, Stability and Progress” in conjunction with CID Serious Fraud Squad Vision “To be a Beacon of Excellence in the Fight Against Economic Crime in Zimbabwe”. Watch this space for more information.
For your comments and assistance with information that can be helpful to CID Serious Fraud Squad, you can contact me on 04-753543/0772 764 043 and on email:email@example.com.
Detective Assistant Inspector Tom Muleya works under the Public Relations Department, CID Serious Fraud Squad, Harare.