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Botswana warns over increase in cybercrime targeting virtual assets

Botswana’s Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) has issued a warning over the increase in cybercrime, specifically that which is related to virtual assets including cryptocurrency and illegal online investment schemes.

The warning comes on the backdrop of FIA’s analysis of financial disclosures filed by specified parties, information from open sources and law enforcement partners.

According to FIA, the scams are using social media platforms for recruitment, promising rapid return on investment to unsuspecting victims.

“The fraudsters present a purported opportunity to invest in foreign exchange promising quick and high returns,” said Masego Mosate, Acting Director General of FIA.

She bemoaned that the criminals are exploiting advances in technology to drive acts of criminality.

“With the increased online usage, cybercrime continues to rise in scale and complexity affecting businesses and individuals alike,” said Mosate adding that FIA has observed a surge in financial crimes related to virtual currencies, particularly cryptocurrency scams.

She highlighted that the investors’ funds are instead diverted and laundered to finance assets such as vehicles, real estate and to support lavish lifestyles of the fraudsters, while the investors are left with huge financial losses.

Mosate said the public should avoid investment schemes that are driven through social media platforms by strangers or through social cycles - friends, family, and colleagues.

She said social media is the modern platform of preference for the criminal as it enables creation of fake identity and provides access to a wide net of potential victims.

“There is little or no monitoring of this platform,” Mosate emphasized.

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