Cross-border fraud refers to any scam or fraud in which a criminal in one country uses deception to steal money or valuables from a victim in another country.
In the past, cross-border fraud was typically perpetrated through postal mail, phone, fax or ads in newspapers and magazines. Social media, email and the internet have made it possible for fraudsters to carry out their criminal schemes on a global scale, targeting millions of potential victims. One study estimates that the amount of money lost every year to fraud, already in the billions, will increase 52% by 2024.
Cross-border fraud takes many forms:
. Goods ordered and paid for but never received—You send money to someone in another country to pay for merchandise that never arrives. When you try to contact the person to resolve the problem, they have disappeared. Scammers often create fake websites to trick people into paying for nonexistent items or giving information about their credit cards and bank accounts. You may be asked to pay additional amounts for customs fees and shipping for an item that you never receive.
. Impostor scams—Someone finds you on social media and poses as a potential romantic partner, then begins asking you to send them money to help them in various ways. You are contacted by someone claiming to be a friend or family member in urgent need of money to help them get out of a dire situation. A criminal pretends to be a businessman and convinces you to invest in what seems like a legitimate business deal.
You can avoid becoming a victim by being vigilant:
• Use common sense. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
• Make sure you are buying from a secure website. The URL should have a padlock icon and “https:” in front of the URL.
• Resist the temptation to buy foreign lottery tickets, and ignore emails or letters that announce you have won a prize. Would a genuine lottery or sweepstakes notify winners by email?
• Do not respond to phone or email alerts claiming to be from your bank, an online retailer such as Amazon or a government agency such as the IRS. Log in and check your accounts online, or call the bank directly if you suspect there might be a problem.