Victim of online scam, Margaret Bunabo. Photo supplied
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A local woman Honiara resident has been targeted and exploited by an online scammer, using various tactics to deceive her into giving away her personal bank account and money.

Margaret Bunabo, a victim of a scam, claimed to have received a message on March 31st from a woman asking her to sign up for an online investment program. The woman assured Margaret that if she joined and put a specific amount of money into a designated account, she would gain a lot of benefits.

According to Margret, the scammer created a fake Facebook account using another local woman and friend, her name and images. 

Margaret revealed that Dr. Donna Marie Wate was her former employer and good friend during her time at Mere Care Clinic in 2019.This scammer is posing as the founder of Mere Care, a medical enterprise providing medical GP services and women’s health education in Honiara.

She said she was tricked into investing $500 into a local Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) account, expecting $5,000 in interest. She deposited the money, but the con artist claimed $5,000 had been deposited and requested an additional $1000 for network fee charges. She discovered the scammer had created a fake account using Donna Marie Wate’s name and photo.

Margaret said she later informed Dr. Donna Marie Wate about her deposits and provided a screenshot of an exchange with a scammer. She said that Dr. Wate verified that she was being tricked by a scammer using her name and image.

She said that when she realized that she had been duped, Dr. Donna suggested reporting the incident to BSP and Facebook. After returning to the bank to report the occurrence, she was able to get back part, but not all, of the money that had been deposited. The scammer is a customer with a BSP account, the bank revealed. As soon as the scam was discovered, the account was closed.

Meanwhile, Dr. Donna advised Margret to report a fraudulent account to Facebook, bank, and police, which was eventually closed and the scammer’s identity revealed, enabling Margret to recover some of her deposit.

Founder of Mere Care Clinic, and entrepreneur, Dr. Donna Marie Wate.

“It was a truly unfortunate day for both of us. My friend fell victim to an online scam, where she was tricked into believing that she was communicating with me. However, the person on the other end was actually a local scammer who tarnished my reputation. It is disheartening to see that such incidents are becoming common, and locals are being targeted by larger probably international networks,” Dr. Donna expressed her concerns.

Meanwhile, Margaret is cautioned in the face of such scam activities, especially on social media, citing her personal experience of falling victim to such scams.

She advised that Solomon Islanders should be vigilant against scammers who use fake accounts under trusted names to deceive and rob individuals.

“It’s crucial to be cautious of such scammers. Whenever you receive messages that seem suspicious or doubtful, make sure to verify the information before proceeding, especially when it comes to online investments,” Margret said.

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