Begging Your Trust in Africa
The syntax is tortured, the grammar mutilated, but the message - sent by snail mail, telex, fax, or e-mail - is coherent: an African bigwig or his heirs wish to transfer funds amassed in years of graft and venality to a safe bank account in the West. They seek the recipient's permission to make use of his or her inconspicuous services for a percentage of the loot - usually many millions of dollars. A fee is required to expedite the proceedings, or to pay taxes, or to bribe officials - they plausibly explain.
It is a scam two decades old - and it still works. Only last month, a bookkeeper for a Berkley, Michigan law firm embezzled $2.1 million and wired it to various bank accounts in South Africa and Taiwan. Other victims were kidnapped for ransom as they traveled abroad to collect their "share". Some never made it back. Every year, there are 5 such murders as well as 8-10 snatchings of American citizens alone. The usual ransom demanded is half a million to a million dollars.
The scam is so widespread that the Nigerians saw fit to explicitly ban it in article 419 of their penal code. The Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo castigated the fraudsters for inflicting "incalculable damage to Nigerian businesses" and for "placing the entire country under suspicion".
"Wired" quotes statistics presented at the International Conference on Advance Fee (419) Frauds in New York on Sept. 17:
"Roughly 1 percent of the millions of people who receive 419 e-mails and faxes are successfully scammed. Annual losses to the scam in the United States total more than $100 million, and law enforcement officials believe global losses may total over $1.5 billion."
According to the "IFCC 2001 Internet Fraud Report", published by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, Nigerian letter fraud cases amount to 15.5 percent of all grievances. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center refers such rip-offs to the US Secret Service. While the median loss in all manner of Internet fraud was $435 - in the Nigerian scam it was a staggering $5575. But only one in ten successful crimes is reported, says the FBI's report.
The IFCC provides this advisory to potential targets:
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or other foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
Do not give out any personal information regarding your savings, checking, credit, or other financial accounts.
If you are solicited, do not respond and quickly notify the appropriate authorities.
The "419 Coalition" is more succinct and a lot more pessimistic:
"NEVER pay anything up front for ANY reason.
NEVER extend credit for ANY reason.
NEVER do ANYTHING until their check clears.
NEVER expect ANY help from the Nigerian Government.
NEVER rely on YOUR Government to bail you out."
The State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs published a brochure titled "Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud". It describes the history of this particular type of swindle:
"AFF criminals include university-educated professionals who are the best in the world for nonviolent spectacular crimes. AFF letters first surfaced in the mid-1980s around the time of the collapse of world oil prices, which is Nigeria's main foreign exchange earner. Some Nigerians turned to crime in order to survive. Fraudulent schemes such as AFF succeeded in Nigeria, because Nigerian criminals took advantage of the fact that Nigerians speak English, the international language of business, and the country's vast oil wealth and natural gas reserves - ranked 13th in the world - offer lucrative business opportunities that attract many foreign companies and individuals."
According to London's Metropolitan Police Company Fraud Department, potential targets in the UK and the USA alone receive c. 1500 solicitations a week. The US Secret Service Financial Crime Division takes in 100 calls a day from Americans approach by the con-men. It now acknowledges that "Nigerian organized crime rings running fraud schemes through the mail and phone lines are now so large, they represent a serious financial threat to the country".
Sometimes even the stamps affixed to such letters are forged. Nigerian postal workers are known to be in cahoots with the fraudsters. Names and addresses are obtained from "trade journals, business directories, magazine and newspaper advertisements, chambers of commerce, and the Internet".
Victims are either too intimidated to complain or else reluctant to admit their collusion in money laundering and fraud. Others try in vain to recoup their losses by ploughing more money into the scheme.
Contrary to popular image, the scammers are often violent and involved in other criminal pursuits, such as drug trafficking, According to Nigeria's Drug Law Enforcement Agency. The blight has spread to other countries. Letters from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Congo, Liberia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Taiwan, or even Canada, the United Kingdom, Oman, and Vietnam are not uncommon.
The dodges fall into a few categories.
Over-invoiced contract scams involve the ostensible transfer of amounts obtained through inflated invoices to the bank account of an unrelated foreign firm. Contract fraud or "trade default" is simply a bogus order accompanied by a fraudulent bank draft for the products of an export company accompanied by demand for "samples" and various transaction "fees and charges".
Some of the rackets are plain outlandish. In the "wash-wash" confidence trick people have been known to pay up to $200,000 for a special solution to remove stains from millions in defaced dollar notes. Others "bought" heavily "discounted" crude oil stored in "secret" locations - or real estate in rezoned locales. "Clearing houses" or "venture capital organizations" claiming to act on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria launder the proceeds of the scams.
In another twist, charities, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and religious groups are asked to pay the inheritances tax on a "donation". Some "dignitaries" and their relatives may seek to flee the country and ask the victims to advance the bribe money in return for a generous cut of the wealth they have stashed abroad.
"Bankers" may find inactive accounts with millions of dollars - often in lottery winnings - waiting to be transferred to a safe off-shore haven. Bogus jobs with inflated wages are another ostensible way to defraud state-owned companies - as is the sale of the target's used vehicle to them for an extravagant price. There seems to be no end to criminal ingenuity.
Lately, the correspondence purports to be coming from - often white - disinterested professional third parties. Accountants, lawyers, directors, trustees, security personnel, or bankers pretend to be acting as fiduciaries for the real dignitary in need of help. Less gullible victims are subjected to plain old extortion with verbal intimidation and stalking.
The more heightened public awareness grows with over-exposure and the tighter the net of international cooperation against the scam, the wilder the stories it spawns. Letters have surfaced recently signed by dying refugees, survivors of the September 11 attacks, and serendipitous US commandos on mission in Afghanistan.
Governments throughout the world have geared up to protect their businessmen. The US Department of Commerce, for instance, publishes the "World Traders data Report", compiled by US embassy in Nigeria. It "provides the following types of information: types of organizations, year established, principal owners, size, product line, and financial and trade references".
Unilateral US activity, inefficacious collaboration with the Nigerian government some of whose officials are rumored to be in on the deals, multilateral efforts in the framework of the OECD and the Interpol, education and information campaigns - nothing seems to be working.
The treatment of 419 fraudsters in Nigeria is so lenient that, according to the "Nigeria Tribune", the United States threatened the country with sanctions if it does not considerably improve its record on financial crime by November 2002. Both the US Treasury's Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FINCEN) and the OECD's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had characterized the country as "one of the worst perpetrators of financial crimes in the world". The Nigerian central bank promises to get to grips with this debilitating problem.
Nigerian themselves - though often victims of the scams - take the phenomenon in stride. The Nigerian "Daily Champion", proffered this insightful apologia on behalf of the ruthless and merciless 419 gangs. It is worth quoting at length:
"To eradicate the 419 scourge, leaders at all levels should work assiduously to create employment opportunities and people perception of the leaders as role models. The country's very high unemployment figure has made nonsense of the so-called democracy dividends. Great majority of Nigerian youthful school leaver's including University graduates, are without visible means of livelihood... The fact remains that most of these teeming youths cannot just watch our so-called leaders siphon their God-given wealthy. So, they resorted to alternative fraudulent means of livelihood called 419, at least to be seen as have arrived... Some of these 419ers are in the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly while some surround the President and governors across the country."
Some swindlers seek to glorify their criminal activities with a political and historical context. The Web site of the "419 Coalition" contains letters casting the scam as a form of forced reparation for slavery, akin to the compensation paid by Germany to survivors of the holocaust. The confidence tricksters boast of defrauding the "white civilization" and unmasking the falsity of its claims for superiority. But a few delusional individuals aside, this is nothing but a smokescreen.
Greed outweighs fear and avarice enmeshes people in clearly criminal enterprises. The "victims" of advance fee scams are rarely incognizant of their alleged role. They knowingly and intentionally collude with self-professed criminals to fleece governments and institutions. This is one of the rare crimes where prey and perpetrator may well deserve each other.
About The Author
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .
Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.
Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Billionaire Barry Sternlicht Is Heavily Invested in This 15%-Yielding Dividend Stock for Steady Income Growth - Yahoo Finance
Billionaire Barry Sternlicht Is Heavily Invested in This 15%-Yielding Dividend Stock for Steady Income Growth Yahoo Finance
Stock Market Today: Stock Market Struggles While Alibaba Shines Kiplinger's Personal Finance
President Joe Biden kicks off Investing in America Tour in Durham, tours Wolfspeed facility - WRAL News
President Joe Biden kicks off Investing in America Tour in Durham, tours Wolfspeed facility WRAL News
President Joe Biden kicks off ‘Investing in America’ tour in North Carolina WXII12 Winston-Salem
Investing in the New-Energy Economy Barron's
I Have $1M To Invest — Where Do I Start? Yahoo Finance
First-Time Investor? Four Ways Teens Can Test the Waters Kiplinger's Personal Finance
What Baseball Teaches Us About Innovation Investing Visual Capitalist
How to Buy Alternative Investments Investopedia
Investing in Amazon Stock, Step By Step The Motley Fool
Buffer ETFs Can Limit Investing Losses in Uncertain Times Kiplinger's Personal Finance
How to Invest in TIPS: Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities U.S News & World Report Money
Up 55% This Year, Can Tesla Stock Keep Outperforming? Investing.com
Who should invest in gold? CBS News
Jeff Bezos is Personally Investing Millions Into Startups in This 'Boring' Industry – Here's Why - Yahoo Finance
Jeff Bezos is Personally Investing Millions Into Startups in This 'Boring' Industry – Here's Why Yahoo Finance
Investing in Fear: Why the Fed Rate Hike Has Investors Turning to Gold and Silver for Security and Profit - Yahoo Finance
Investing in Fear: Why the Fed Rate Hike Has Investors Turning to Gold and Silver for Security and Profit Yahoo Finance
Top investing apps register 100 million downloads milestone Finbold - Finance in Bold
Investing In Certificates Of Deposit Given Recent Events Seeking Alpha
Investing in the Digital Age: Building Wealth Through Saving and ... Mississippi State University
ETF Funds for Anti-ESG Investors Kiplinger's Personal Finance
PG&E Investing $18 Billion Toward Wildfire Mitigation POWER magazine
Black, Hispanic investors struggle with faith in crypto Chattanooga Times Free Press
Investing Strategy: Best Stocks, Bonds, Currencies to Buy Now, UBS Business Insider
Individual Investors Target Resort Hotels When Investing in ... Wealth Management
Up 4% in 2023, Is It Safe to Invest in the S&P 500 Right Now? The Motley Fool
Divergence in Fed and ECB Policy to Lift EUR/USD Investing.com
Masters of their craft: Augusta University alumnus Rafy Bassali ... Jagwire – Augusta
'Shark Tank' star Barbara Corcoran’s No. 1 piece of investing advice: Don't diversify, ‘money is meant to be spent’ - CNBC
'Shark Tank' star Barbara Corcoran’s No. 1 piece of investing advice: Don't diversify, ‘money is meant to be spent’ CNBC
Investing in Coactive Andreessen Horowitz
Roche's Slow Growth Shouldn't Drive Investors Away The Motley Fool
Attorneys Discuss Climate Change Impact on Real Estate Investing ... Ropes & Gray LLP
Investing in on-farm solar - Investing in on-farm solar Farm Progress
Women aren't investing at the same rate as men. Here's why it matters—and how the gap can be closed - CNBC
Women aren't investing at the same rate as men. Here's why it matters—and how the gap can be closed CNBC
3 of Warren Buffett’s biggest investing mistakes—including the ‘dumbest’ stock he ever bought - CNBC
Investing in Believer Andreessen Horowitz
USD/JPY: The Channel Continues Investing.com
About 80% of the Healthcare Systems are Investing in Remote Patient Monitoring Solutions; The Global Multiparameter Patient Monitoring Market Size to Worth $15 Billion by 2028- Arizton - Yahoo Finance
About 80% of the Healthcare Systems are Investing in Remote Patient Monitoring Solutions; The Global Multiparameter Patient Monitoring Market Size to Worth $15 Billion by 2028- Arizton Yahoo Finance
Before You Invest in Coinbase Stock, Ask Yourself This Question The Motley Fool
Understanding Sector Investing and Market Sectors | Chase Chase News & Stories
The Fundamentals of Value Investing The Motley Fool
Follow the Money, Assess Banking Stress Investing.com
What is ESG investing and why do some hate it so much? The Associated Press
GBP/NZD: Third Wave Continues Investing.com
5 things you may have missed in investing this week Yahoo Finance
5 Ways to Prepare Your Portfolio for Black Swan Events U.S News & World Report Money
Investing in the Stock Market Could Turn Your $10,000 Into ... The Motley Fool
Emotions: A Traders Worst Enemy; Get Rid of Fear and Greed - Youll be Glad You Did
You hear it over and over and over in books, forums, and chatrooms. Fear and greed, fear and greed, fear and greed.
Art Investing for a Financial Future
When we think of investing we probably conjure images in our minds of the New York Stock Exchange, suited stock brokers making deals, bonds and treasury bills, and all manner of financial matters. The last thing we probably think about is art.
Investing and Asset Allocation
Sometimes you spend sleepless nights worrying about which stocks to buy and which to sell, which funds to own and which to dump and whether to get into bonds.All of these are legitimate concerns, but the greatest determinant of your success as an investor will not be your sagacity in selecting specific stocks, bonds or funds for your portfolio.
It Is Never Too Early To Start A Roth IRA!
The Roth is kind of weird until you get used to it in terms of how much you can put in (contribute) each year depending on how much you earn (compensation). Because of this you really have two limits, one dealing with your compensation and the other dealing with your contribution.
The Difference Between Investing and Trading
Investing and Trading are not the same thing. The returns you seek, the length of time it takes to achieve those returns, the amount of risk one is prepared to take, and the commitment one can make to monitor the investments dictate the strategy of whether to invest or trade.
Angels Investors and Their Networks
What is an Angel Investor?An Angel is usually a private person who invests in small businesses. The Angel is generally a successful businessperson or entrepreneur who looks to invest in a business that has potential for growing their investment in the future.
Before You Invest You Must Read This
It is important to answer the following questions before you begin to invest any of your money. The answers to these questions will help to guide you to when, what, where, and how much to invest.
The American Age of Inflation is Over
"The American Age of Inflation is finished." So says economist Robert Samuelson in his December 2nd Washington Post column.
Reasons For Joining An Investment Club
Whether you're a novice investor or an experienced stock picker an investment club may be beneficial to growing your investment portfolio. This article explains what an investment club is, why you should have an investment program and finally why you should join an investment club.
Is a SEP Plan Right For Your Business
A SEP is a special type of IRA. Under a SEP plan the employer creates an IRA account for each eligible employee, hence the name SEP-IRA.
5 Things To Know About The Stock Market
50% Of U.S.
Many people today are looking for annuity help. The biggest challenge seems to be that most of the help is biased.
How to Buy to Let
Find out everything you need to know about buy to let. Learn what to buy, where to buy and what not to buy.
Getting Started In Investing
Are you ready to open your pathway to financial independence?Well you should be. The sooner the better.
Remembering TEOTWAWKI and Learning from It
Its only been about 5 years since we had major scares in the marketplace regarding Y2K. You might recall that many computer systems were not programmed to be able to understand the change from 1999 to 2000.
Stocks, Oil, and Bonds
A barrel of oil bounced to over $60 Thu, which triggered a steep sell-off in the stock market Thu and Fri, although oil pulled-back to around $59 a barrel, and closed at $59.84 a barrel Fri.
Using Divergences to Keep Out of Bad Trades
The American Football season just came to an end with my team getting close to the championship but falling short again. I am a big fan of the Indianapolis Colts and we keep having a groundhog day season year after year but it is still fun to watch.
Before You Start Investing
There maybe several reasons why you to want to invest your money. You may want to retire early, want to build your own business in the future, or to pay for your kid's education.
Scots Beat Yanks in China Bank Deal
With visions of an ATM in every neighborhood in China, foreign banks and investment firms are queuing up to join the "China Club."Moneybags CommunismThe initiation fee for the "China Club" is straightforward and pure moneybags communism: invest cold hard cash in its largely insolvent state-owned banks, put your reputation on the line, reassure nervous foreign investors about upcoming IPO's, and share your risk management, corporate banking and other expertise with eager Chinese executives.
Numismatics are for Collectors, Not Investors
As a precious metals investor, you may heard much about numismatic and "semi-numismatic" coins, particularly the St. Gaudens $20 double eagle gold coin.
|home | site map|