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BRICS New Development Bank Warns Countries of New Scam

You probably think you have read this story already. Back in 2016, the-not-yet Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille warned against five separate, fraudulent emails emanating from her office. The email address from 2016 was patriciadelille@consultant.com, along with a subject line that read “BRICS Bank Funding”.

All these years later, the BRICS New Development Bank is warning of a new scam using their credentials to solicit financial information with the promise of a loan or tender-type guarantee from the New Development Bank. BRICS have stated, emphatically, that they are not a commercial bank and do not open accounts on behalf of any individual or provide them with any kind of financing or loan.

“The New Development Bank does not send unsolicited e-mails or any other communication asking people to open a personal bank account, transfer money, or provide personal information,” says Monale Ratsoma, Director-General for the Africa Regional Centre. The ploy is aimed at collecting personal information such as passports, driver’s licences, identity documents, payslips and contact details – by sending an email or other communication that would appear to come from reputable sources like a bank or government department.

In this second round of the scam: the fraudulent emails are being sent by patricia-de-lille-mecrep@executive.co.za which was the first red flag for her department as this is not a government email address. “My office has been alerted to an email scam purporting to be in my name as the minister of public works and infrastructure regarding funding from a programme between the BRICS New Development Bank and European Development Fund,” read a statement from De Lille. Adding that her government department would never make unsolicited contact regarding a project or programme loan under any circumstances. No requests to individual service providers or groups of service providers would be sent out without following the appropriate supply chain management processes.

“Furthermore, as ministers and public representatives we are never involved in any procurement or administrative processes for funding proposals or disbursing of funding.”

“This is a fraudulent email scam and I am hereby issuing a warning to the public to please ignore this email.”

“Any such communication is fraudulent. Do not respond and report it immediately to the South African Police Service.”

She warned the public that any correspondence in the name of her – or any – government department should verify the request and communication before delivering large amounts of goods without a tender being advertised for the purchase. De Lille emphasised that they are “extremely concerned about the use of employees’ names and contact details in this scam. This poses serious security and reputational threats and damage to officials whose names have been used by the fraudsters.”

In another version of this scam, fraudsters offer attractive loans or financing at very low interest rates. Requiring the recipient to pay some sort of administration – or other upfront – fee in order to qualify for the loans offered. Usually, the offer will have a time limit to put pressure on unsuspecting victims. These scams can also be reported to the South African Fraud Prevention Services. According to The South Africa Risk Information Centre, scams such as these are more prevalent over the holiday period and into the new year after year-end bonuses have been paid and companies are looking for new clients.

They offer the following advice to consumers to protect themselves:

  • Be very wary about responding to unsolicited messages. Remember that scammers use a variety of channels including e-mail, mail, phone and social media. Verify all requests for personal information and only provide it when there is a legitimate reason to do so.
  • Be suspicious of e-mails or messages that contain spelling or grammatical errors or other inconsistencies such as Gmail addresses, rather than a company domain e-mail.
  • Be wary of requests for upfront payments or payment for goods or services you haven’t or don’t remember ordering, especially if you’re asked to use an unusual payment method such as MoneyGram

The New Development Bank finances sustainable development and infrastructure projects in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations and in other developing countries. The bank advises anyone who has transacted with – or provided personal information to – these unauthorised emails should immediately contact their local law enforcement. They have stated definitely that “the bank has no involvement in such fraudulent schemes and cautions the public to be very wary of these and other similar solicitations that falsely claim to be affiliated with the New Development Bank.”

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