Scammed in Antigua
In the last month, I must have received at least four emails and heard as many stories about tourists and expats who within days of withdrawing money from the many ATMs around Antigua got their accounts emptied!
It appears that when using an ATM your bank is contacted to ensure that you have sufficient funds to make a withdrawal, during which data, such as account numbers, pins etc., is transferred. This information transfer is then intercepted by a third party – not in Guatemala – and all the data is copied. Repeat withdrawals are then made until your account is emptied, and somehow they have managed to circumvent the daily limits on ATM withdrawals.
The banks in Antigua will take no responsibility for this. The advice they have been giving the victims is to contact their banks to ask for a reimbursement. I made an attempt to get in touch with the manager of one of the banks close to Central Park, one that seems to be having the most complaints, yet my efforts got no response.
I recommend if you’ve been using these ATMs to check with your bank to see if you’ve been affected so they can take immediate action. I have learnt that last year a number of leading hotels in Guatemala City had their ATMs hacked. Many disgruntled tourists as well as expats contacted their embassies; calls were made, and the problem was resolved. I therefore suggest you contact your embassy if you have been a victim of this fraud or just want to voice your concern.
Perhaps a way to limit potential losses is to open a second account at your bank with a few hundred dollars and transfer money online from your first account to keep it topped up.
If you are interested in sharing this article, it will also be published on our website, www.grupoquepasa.com. The online article will also be open for you to post your comments and concerns. We encourage you to share your experiences and get the word out about this problem.
You have been warned!!!
Scott Stanton, publisher
Here are the contact emails of a few embassies:
Canadian Embassy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Netherlands Embassy: email@example.com
UK Embassy: firstname.lastname@example.org
US Embassy: email@example.com