It seems no one is immune from the ills of modern day technology as many Palauans and local residents found themselves receiving messages on their Messenger and Facebook accounts in the last week by someone impersonating Minister of Natural Resource, Environment and Tourism Umiich Sengebau. The account being used have Minister Sengebau’s photo as well as his picture.
Although many locals have been aware of the scams on internet for many years, it has been for the most part easy to recognize because the person contacting you has been some foreign person, most often from African country.
This time the person that has been contacting people via Messenger or Facebook or Google Hangout, is a person impersonating a high level official, a Minister of NRET, Minister Sengebau.
Furthermore, the person has been able to talk via text to people in Palauan language. Not only is the person speaking the local language, he or she is referencing other people that are known in the community to make his or her story believable.
In a conversation with a local woman from one of the Babeldaob States, the person expressed that he was on his way to meet Vice President Oilouch with Senator Phillip Reklai and therefore can’t receive her call, making his story believable to the local lady.
In another conversation with Senator Reklai, he said he was on the boat and asked in Palauan if the Senator slept well.
In all the messages, the hacker is telling locals that a grant opportunity is made available to locals and to help him get money via Western Union to a friend.
The hacker always avoid accepting phone calls and comes up with numerous excuses to avoid having to talk to the person he/she is scamming.
The hacker asks either for an account number or to send a certain amount of money to him in order to get the full amount of the so-called grant he promised.
With over 5,000 locals and residents using smart phones, just about everyone is getting these types of messages.
It is a good reminder before you send your money away somewhere or give someone your bank information, to ask other people to help you verify the authenticity of a person or messenger. The proverb that says, “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is” is a good advice when it comes to people you don’t know offering you free money. (Be suspicious of people or situations that offer a large benefit for very little in return. (L.N. Reklai)