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Scum of the earthNigerian Scam 419

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'Collateral Damage'

I have been playing with Nigerian scammers for a long time now, for many reasons:

  1. Whilst they are occupied with me, then maybe someone more gullible or less knowledgeable, will not be scammed.
  2. I am interested in learning all the different MOs (modes of operation), options and psychological tricks that they use.
  3. I am building up a large database of emails for use in a future book that I have planned.
  4. I enjoy mentally imagining them twist and turn when I do not fit into the usual pattern of a victim that they have planned.
  5. Generally, it keeps me enjoyably occupied, as I usually have five or six of these on the go at any one time.
Having stated all the above, one caught me unawares a couple of years ago and actually caused me problems:

The Story:

I received an email from someone who supposedly had millions of dollars to invest in Thailand and wanted me to manage the funds and investment and I would be paid 15% of the total amount invested, which I could deduct immediately for my own use.

I immediately recognized this as a scam, but I played them along and pretended to be enthusiastically interested in their offer. They went on to explain that the funds where in Singapore now and I would have to contact their associates in Singapore and pay them the required transfer and clearance fees to guarantee transfer of the funds. This is where I thought "Here comes the advance fee fraud payment, as usual!"

Well what happened next took me by complete surprise, they requested my bank account details and said that they would pay the required fees into my account and then I would just have to transfer the fees to the people in Singapore using Western Union money transfer. I thought about this and even though I had not seen this style before, I gave them my UK bank details, because there is nothing that they can do with that, as my bank is very strict on security.

The next email I received from them stated that they had paid the money into my account and they needed me to transfer the fees immediately to start everything going quickly. I didn't believe them and I was trying to work out what their next move would be, but anyway, I accessed my bank account through internet banking and to my surprise 12,500 pounds sterling had been paid into my bank. I really had to sit down and think about this then, what was their angle here? This was a new one to me, how do they win from this? I decided just to let the money rest in my account for a few days to clear properly and then I would decide again how to play this one carefully.

The emails started coming in from them thick and fast then, all with the same question "Had I transferred the money yet?" I thought I would stall them by telling them that Western Union in Thailand had a maximum limit of $1,000 per transfer, so I could not transfer all of the money requested, to which they replied "Well please send many transfers of $1,000 and do it quickly because the people in Singapore are getting anxious." I ignored these emails for the rest of the day and just relaxed had a few beers and was still trying to work this scam out. I had to go and buy some more beer as I was running out and checking my wallet, I realized that I was getting low on cash, so I stopped at a local ATM machine, put my card in and tried to withdraw some cash, but it didn't work, I did the same thing at many other ATM machines with the same result, so I figured that I must have a problem with my card.

At home again, still thinking about this scam, I logged in to internet banking and was going to look at all this money in my account again, but the only choice of account that was available for me to log into was my credit card account, no sign of my current account. I tried many times and still did not get the option of my current account. So I sent a message to the bank telling them about the problem with my card and the problem with my internet banking. I received a reply quite quickly from them and they told me that my bank account is now frozen because of suspected access by a third party, they also gave me a telephone number to ring  so that they could explain fully about this. I replied and gave them my telephone number as I had insufficient funds on my telephone to make an international call.

Later that evening I received a telephone call from my bank and the person at the bank, after asking some security questions, then proceeded to tell me exactly what was happening. The money had been paid into my bank account using a stolen cheque, so they had called in the police and had frozen access to the account because they suspected that someone else now had access to my account. So I explained to him exactly what was happening and that nobody else had access to my account, they were trying to use me to move this money for them unsuccessfully. I also explained to him that my medical pensions were paid into this account and this was my only source of income, so by freezing access to the account they had cut off my access to my only source of income. He then said that he would open up a new account for me and transfer my funds into it and would continue to transfer genuine deposits from the old account into the new account for some time whilst the police were still monitoring it. This he did and sent me a new ATM card, but for security reasons the card and PIN number were sent in separate mail. The card arrived by special post 3 days later, but the mail with PIN number never arrived and this took me a further three weeks to sort out, during which time I had to borrow money just to survive.

So, I got a new Nigerian Scam MO, but at a cost that I had never even considered or even thought about before.

Oh well! At least I know about this one now, another one for my future book.

 

 

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John McMiken (Ian Reed)

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Other useful websites with information about these advance fee fraudsters are:

http://www.scambuster419.co.uk

http://www.data-wales.co.uk

http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com

 

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