U.S. Embassy Malta has noted an increase in inquiries from people who have been defrauded hundreds or thousands of dollars or euros.
Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication, usually by e-mail or Facebook, from an individual claiming to be a U.S. citizen who is “trapped” in a conflict zone, or difficult situation and needs financial assistance to return to the United States or receive urgent medical care.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a U.S. citizen in trouble, ask him/her to call the U.S. Embassy (in their country) or United States Office of Oversea Citizens Services at 888-407-4747 (from overseas: 001-202-501-4444). If the individual claims they are in Malta he/she should call 2561-4000. U.S. Embassies do provide assistant to U.S. Citizens in difficulty.
Common e-mail scams also involve an individual promising quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a substantial sum of money out of the country.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraud is to use common sense. As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do not wire or transfer money to anyone you’ve never met in person.
Beware of these early warning signs:
- Someone you have never met in person asks for money to get out of a bad situation or to provide a service.
- He or she asks you to send money via Western Union.
- The scammer has incredibly bad luck– often getting into car crashes, arrested, mugged, beaten, or hospitalized — usually all within the course of a couple of months. They often claim that their key family members (parents and siblings) are dead. Sometimes, the scammer claims to have an accompanying child overseas who is very sick or has been in an accident.
- The scammer claims to be a native-born U.S. citizen, but uses poor grammar or strange spelling indicative of a non-native English speaker.
- They contacted you online – often through, social media, internet dating, or employment sites.
- Photographs that the scammer sends of “him/herself” show a very attractive person. The photo appears to have been taken at a professional modeling agency or photographic studio.
- The scammer may also provide an image that looks like a valid U.S. Passport but has been digitally altered.
- The scammer claims that you have won a lottery you never entered, or inherited money from someone you’ve never met or heard of.
- The scammer offers (lottery, inheritance, etc.) that require a fee to be paid up front.
- The scammer requires you provide personal or financial information to a businesses you don’t know or haven’t verified.
If you are a U.S. Citizen and feel you have been a victim of an Internet scam, send all direct reports of Internet fraud to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at: http://www.ic3.gov/. If the scam originated through a particular website, notify the administrators of that website. If you are concerned about an American in distress overseas, but you are not sure if it is a legitimate case, call the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at888-407-4747 (from overseas: 001-202-501-4444). Or, if the individual claims to be in Malta you can call the Embassy directly at (country code: 356) 2561-4000.
Additional Information and Resources
If you are a Maltese Citizen you should contact Malta Police Force – Cyber Crime Unit at (+356) 2294 2231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United State Government will assist U.S. Citizen in difficulty. We cannot verify or refute claims of U.S. or Maltese Citizenship.