Minister of Agriculture Michael Pintard alerted the media yesterday to fraudulent social media accounts that have been opened in his name under the false pretenses of seeking Hurricane Dorian relief aid, noting that some storm victims may have already given out personal information.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, Pintard slammed those behind the fake accounts as “despicable” for trying to take advantage of victims still hurting as they try to recover from the devastation of the monster storm.
“It has come to our attention that a fraudulent social media account has been created on Instagram purporting to represent myself, Michael Pintard, and the Marco City constituency,” he said.
“This fraudulent account has began to wreak havoc for some private residents who have been contacted [and asked] for personal details, including financial details.”
He added, “What has made this even more egregious is that the persons have purported to represent international agencies asking for personal information and linking their questions and requests to Hurricane Dorian.
“Many residents have been hurt, many have lost their lives and all of their possessions as a result of Dorian, and for someone to be as sick as and as callous to use this occasion to either injure a public figure, but more importantly for personal gain, is despicable.”
Dorian, the most powerful storm on record to hit the northern Bahamas, devastated Abaco and Freeport in early September.
Pintard – who is also the MP for the Marco City constituency on Grand Bahama – said he already reported the matter to police two weeks ago.
He also urged members of the public to do likewise should they suspect an account to be fraudulent.
“We know that persons have given personal information and again we believe that once persons have your account information they may be able to access funds, and they have been asking for donations; and so we ask again members of the public – if you have any concerns please immediately report it to the police,” he said.
“Bring it to our attention so that we can do what we’ve done already, which is to speak to the minister of national security who was liaising with police officers in order to investigate it.”
He added, “We have already reported to the police our concern and we did so at least two weeks ago, and of course we have reported once again now that we know residents have, in fact, been contacted by these fraudulent accounts.”
Pintard urged the public to unfollow michaelpintard215 and michael.pintard on Instagram.
He said that his official social media handles are: Instagram – official.marcocity; Twitter – @MichaelPintard; Facebook – Michael Pintard, Michael C. Pintard and Marco City-Michael Pintard.
“We are aware that this is common practice, that many persons are facing the same difficulty. But we want to address this issue urgently,” he said.
He added, “I’ve asked my office to look through social media, identify any account with my name, the constituency name, and to investigate whether or not at any point in the past any of these were set up by the office [and] those that are not, to bring it to the public’s attention.”