The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has cautioned the public against cheque fraud following an upsurge in such cases.
EOCO indicated that this followed an increase in cheque fraud cases that had come to its notice recently.
It explained that some fraudsters were using the issuing of cheques and other modes of payment to defraud traders and business entities.
Bank of Ghana’s fraud report has revealed that the total loss value recorded by banks and specialised deposit-taking institutions (SDIs) due to fraud in 2022 stood at approximately GH¢56 million as compared to approximately GH¢61 million in 2021.
It was observed that cheque fraud, cyber/email and cash theft (cash suppression) were the major (top five) fraud typologies that impacted most of the financial institutions.
Forgery and manipulation of documents emerged as the prominent fraud typology, recording the highest loss of GH¢33 million.
Money fraudulently withdrawn from customers’ accounts resulted in GH¢7 million losses, most of which the central bank observed involved staff of banks and SDIs, while cheque fraud, arising from cloned cheques, accounted for a loss value of GH¢5 million.
EOCO, in a news release cautioning the public to be alert, indicated that the suspected fraudsters, riding on the back of technology, sometimes conducted transactions via phone calls without physical contact with the business entity.
After an agreement is reached, EOCO said, the fraudsters then issue cheques on non-existing or dormant bank accounts, which usually take a number of days to be detected through the inter-bank clearing system.
As a result, the cheque is then returned by the bank, and while the inter-bank system is yet to detect the fraud, the fraudsters would keep pushing for the goods to be delivered, insisting that they have made payment.
The business entity or trader, EOCO said, is, therefore, compelled to make delivery even though the cheque is yet to clear.
“Unfortunately, once the goods are delivered, the cheque gets reversed and the fraudsters, together with the goods, vanish into thin air,” the statement said.
EOCO, consequently, urged the public, especially traders and business entities, to do due diligence before delivering goods and services by ensuring that cheques or whatever forms of payment they make, irreversibly reflect in their accounts.
“This should be done by confirming that the actual or available balance of business owners has increased by the amount expected. Vendors should not rush to supply goods by only SMS alert without checking their actual balance,” it said.
EOCO gave an assurance that it would continue to monitor and track down those organised criminal activities and deal with the perpetrators appropriately.
Source: Graphic Online