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Intergovernmental Organizations Issue Warning Against Name Misuse
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Several intergovernmental organizations have recently posted warnings regarding the illegal use of their names, logos and addresses by criminals whose goal is to defraud the public, for example through bogus financial transactions, fake lotteries, non-existent employment opportunities and other scams. This type of elaborate fraud is often perpetrated via e-mail, letters or websites claiming to be that of these organizations.

The Basel-based Bank of International Settlements, for instance, has published information on a lottery scam which involved invalid checks. In order to curtail this activity, the Bank has also posted updated warning notices about websites using its name and logo without authorization to promote these schemes, and even use the name of actual employees or officials to give credibility to the forged communications. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have likewise documented a scam, almost certainly originating in Nigeria, using forged letterheads, signatures and ATM cards. United Nations related organizations, such as UNESCO, now post on their "vacancy" pages visible warning messages discussing employment scams, which are becoming a growing concern in times of high unemployment.

Even lesser known intergovernmental organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, EUCLID University, OPEC or the International Organization for Migration have posted similar warnings dealing with fake jobs postings, fraudulent awards, etc.

This fraudulent schemes are always variations on the so-called "Advance Fee" scheme in which individuals are promised access to significant sums in exchange for the preliminary payments of various fees. These scams are not only damaging for the reputation of legitimate intergovernmental bodies; they present a serious risk of financial and physical harm to those who may be convinced by letters and websites that credibly imitate the official ones. The International Organization for Migration, for instance, expressed concern that non-governmental organizations with official-sounding names were in fact set-up by criminals attempting to extract money from migrants by claiming that their programs function under the auspices of the destination country, IOM, the United Nations or some other well-known humanitarian organization.

In addition to the Advance Fee approach, several communications purporting to originate from international organizations seek to obtain personal information, allegedly to secure employment or a scholarship, but in fact to perpetrate identity theft. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has posted useful guidelines on how to detect and report these operations.

In their posted warnings, these intergovernmental organizations invite anyone who may be aware of or victim of this type of fraud to report any complaint to their head office and to local law enforcement agencies.


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