Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Email Scams

The U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean advises U.S. citizens in Barbados of a high volume of complaints regarding a variety of e-mail fraud schemes.  Most of the complaints fall into the categories of “Spearphishing”, “Business Email Compromise” or “Email Account Compromise” schemes.  Victims typically receive e-mails which appear to be from their financial institutions or business contacts.  The e-mails advise the recipient that money is owed for various business expenses, insurance premiums, conference fees, visa fees, and other expenses.  The e-mail includes instructions for wire transfer to a beneficiary institution.  Once the funds are transferred, the unknown recipients typically withdraw the funds and close the accounts.  By the time victims realize a fraud was perpetrated, the funds cannot be recovered.

The U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean encourages all individuals who use e-mail to remain vigilant when online.  During the holiday season, there may also be an increase in fraudulent charitable contribution scams.  These tips may help individuals protect themselves from being victims of e-mail frauds:

  • Do not open e-mail messages or attachments from unknown individuals.
  • Be cautious of clicking links within e-mails from unknown individuals.
  • Be aware of small changes in e-mail addresses that mimic legitimate e-mail addresses.
  • Question any changes to wire transfer instructions by contacting the associated parties through a known avenue.
  • Verify the legitimacy of the request through verbal communication using a telephone number known by both parties.
  • Be suspicious of requests for funds that are not one of your regular expenses.

If you believe you are the victim of one of these schemes:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering the fraudulent transfer.
  • Contact local law enforcement.
  • Request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent in an attempt to freeze the funds.

Please see the links below for examples of Internet Crime Complaint Center alerts:

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov/, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, and Country-Specific Information for Barbados can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at http://travcel.state.gov/.

STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the Embassy or nearest consulate.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, can be reached during regular business hours (M-F, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) by telephone at (246) 227-4000; by fax at (246) 431-0179; and by e-mail at BridgetownACS@state.gov.

After hours, in case of emergency, a duty officer can be reached by calling the Embassy switchboard at (246) 227-4000 and dialing ext. 2210 to speak to the Marine security guard on duty.

Note:  The timestamp on this e-mail message may reflect Washington, D.C., time, which may differ from local time.