Tag: 419 scam

How Did 419 Scams Begin

Fifty Scams and Hoaxes is a new book by Martin Fone and is described as a light-hearted investigation into some of the worst examples of financial skulduggery, medical quackery and ingenious hoaxing from history. Along the way he came across a Pope advocating a drink based on cocaine, a pill to avoid hangovers, a woman who gave birth to rabbits, the man who broke the bank twice and the first examples of insurance fraud and scam emails.

It’s an easy book to read and is entertaining.

One story that surprised the Fightback Ninja is an early version of the 419 scam, also known as the advance fee scam where the scammer offers a fortune in return for carrying out a simple task.

The fortune might be a lock box of gold left by a diplomat that only you can access, or it may be the legacy of a dead relative and you’re the next of kin supposedly or any one of hundreds of such stories.

There is no fortune of course and the scammer progressively gets the victim to make a series of small payments for customs clearance or security checks or any other reason until the victim realises it’s a scam and stops paying.

Eugene Francois Vidocq in revolutionary France late 18th century specialised in using prison guards to send letters to carefully chosen very wealthy people.

The letters claimed he and his master were intending to escape revolutionary France and had a casket containing 1600 francs in gold and diamonds. They had been attacked en route and ditched the casket but now they were safe and had sent a servant to collect the casket but he had ended up in jail.

So, if you (the recipient) could send the money to have the servant released then the fortune can be shared with you.

The story is quite long and convoluted to add authenticity and is cleverly designed to lure the unsuspecting victim into believing about the fortune. This long ago scam shares many features with the modern day advance fee scams based upon it.

Vidocq reckoned that 20% of the letters he sent out ended up with money in his pocket so he became a wealthy man before retiring from the scamming game.  Modern day scammers need to send out millions of such messages to make any money from their fraudulent schemes.

Martin Fone’s blog is at https://martinfone.wordpress.com/

You can buy the book at www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/business/fifty-scams-and-hoaxes

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Fightback Ninja Signature

The Spanish Prisoner Scam

This a very old scam and is the origin of the modern Nigerian 419 scams (also called the Advance Fee scam) and shows that some scams have roots from a long time ago.

The Spanish Prisoner scam is a confidence trick originating in the late 19th century. The fraudster tells the victim that he is (or is in correspondence with) a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity.

The fraudster offers to let the victim put up some of the funds, with a promise of a greater monetary reward upon release of the prisoner plus another incentive  such as gaining the hand of a beautiful woman who is the prisoner’s daughter.

After the victim has paid the ransom, he is told that further difficulties have arisen, and more money is needed. The fraudster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out or refuses to pay any more.

A key element of the Spanish Prisoner scam is an emphasis on secrecy. The Police cannot be involved and identity of the prisoner cannot be revealed. The scammer will claim to have chosen the victim, based on his reputation for honesty and straight dealing.

This fraud came to be known as the “Spanish Prisoner” because, often, the letter-writer claimed to be trapped in a Spanish jail, for reasons arising from the Spanish-American War. The letter was written on thin, blue, cross-lined paper, such as is used for foreign letters, and is written as fairly well-educated foreigners write English, with a word misspelled here and there, and an occasional foreign idiom.

Modern Version

In the advance-fee fraud, a valuable item must be ransomed from customs or an impound or lost-baggage service before the authorities realise its value and block the repossession.

In the Nigerian 419 scam, a relative of a deposed African dictator or Libyan leader or Iraqi leader (or similar countries leaders) offers to transfer items (gold or diamonds or bearer bonds or just cash) worth millions of dollars to the victim in return for small initial payments to cover release fees and other expenses.

Another variation spreads via hijacked social media accounts, where a message is sent to all the social media contacts of the victim, claiming that the victim is in a foreign country, has been robbed, and needs money to be sent immediately to pay for hospital bills or airline tickets or to bribe the Police in order to escape the country etc. and paid by Western Union or similar money transfer agents.

This scam is very well know but large numbers of scammers still use it in some form and people still fall for it in and in total lose hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Fightback Ninja Signature

 

FBI Charge 6 Over Nigerian 419 Scam

Six people charged in Houston in $7 million international investment scam.

The charges against the six individuals were for their participation in an elaborate international advance fee and money laundering scheme. The scheme involved the impersonation of Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) and JPMorgan Chase (Chase) executives, the fabrication of U.S. government documents, the creation of fraudulent investment agreements in the name of BB&T and Chase and the purchase of luxury vehicles to launder the proceeds of the scheme.

The Scam

The scammers impersonated U.S. bank officials and financial consultants over the Internet and by phone and conned the victims into thinking they would receive millions of dollars of investment funding as part of joint ventures with U.S. banks, usually BB&T or Chase.

The scamers used fake Internet domains to make it appear that senders of emails were actually affiliated with BB&T or Chase.

To convince victims the opportunities were authentic, the perpetrators recruited U.S. citizens to pose as bank “representatives” at in-person meetings with victims around the world and outside of the USA  they used sham visits to the local U.S. embassy or consulate and fabricated U.S. government documents to make the victims believe the U.S. government was sponsoring the investment agreements.

The victims were then induced to pay tens of thousands, and often hundreds of thousands, of dollars to U.S.-based bank accounts on the belief that such payments were necessary to complete their investment agreements.

Money movers in the U.S. liquidated the proceeds through outgoing wire transfers to exporters, cash withdrawals and purchases of vehicles, including luxury brands such as Land Rover and Mercedes Benz, which were then shipped to Nigeria.

Recovery of Funds

The scheme resulted in losses of more than $7 million from victims in more than 20 countries.

To date, a house in Richmond, a Range Rover car and approximately $200,000 in cash have been seized.

Well done the FBI.

Do enter your email address and click on the subscribe button on top right to keep up to date with new posts.

Fightback Ninja Signature