The FBI’s Nigerian email scam ring bust shows how the billion-dollar global fraud has evolved

The “Nigerian prince” email scam is perhaps one of the longest-running Internet frauds. Actress Anne Hathaway even joked about it in her monologue on ” Saturday Night Live ” over a decade ago. The fraudsters lure you in by offering a share of a huge investment opportunity or a fortune they can’t get out of the country without your help. Then they ask you either for your bank account number so they can transfer the money to you for safekeeping, or for a small advance payment to help cover the expense of transferring the money. That’s when they either take your payment and disappear, or, worse, drain your bank account. The reason these scams are so effective is that they present victims with a “perfect storm of temptations,” Dr. First, these scams play on people’s greed.

Romance Scams Targeting Seniors: How Can You Protect Yourself?

FESTAC, Nigeria — As patient as fishermen, the young men toil day and night, trawling for replies to the e-mails they shoot to strangers half a world away. Most recipients hit delete, delete, delete, delete without ever opening the messages that urge them to claim the untold riches of a long-lost deceased second cousin, and the messages that offer millions of dollars to help smuggle loot stolen by a corrupt Nigerian official into a U.

But the few who actually reply make this a tempting and lucrative business for the boys of Festac, a neighborhood of Lagos at the center of the cyber-scam universe.

If you’ve seen the news, ‘romance scammers’ are among the eighty I was scammed 2 times by people in Lagos Nigeria, sent money by.

Jeff Stone. Beginning in , prosecutors say, the defendants worked with other conspirators who posed as U. The scammers would at first would ask for small gifts, like gift cards or cell phones, and then ask for larger payments as the relationships evolved, all while being in Nigeria. The arrests in Oklahoma, New York and California nabbed suspects who moved money between banks accounts and protected the fake identities, prosecutors said.

The indictment, unsealed Wednesday , comes as U. Business email compromise, one of the leading causes of cybercrime , occurs when thieves hijack a corporate email address and request monetary transfers, sometimes totaling hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Veteran scams are yet another technique, involving the deception of former U. In this case, prosecutors said scammers used Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, email and text messages, along with dating apps to trick their victims.

Robert Wilson said he was traveling to Hong Kong to work on a project, for which he requested financial assistance from a victim. In a further attempt to conceal the source of the money, the co-conspirators also purchased salvaged vehicles and car parts to export overseas, usually to Nigeria, the indictment alleges. The lead defendants are identified as Afeez Adebara, a year-old residing in Norman, Okla. Attorneys for the accused could not immediately be reached for comment.

This announcement comes months after U. Close Ad.

‘Nigerian prince’ email scams still rake in over $700,000 a year—here’s how to protect yourself

Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at tampabay. Please consider subscribing or donating. The money wound up in a bank account in Tampa but then vanished into other accounts overseas, spurring the interest of local FBI agents. The probe reached its zenith last month when a man who who helped orchestrate the scheme appeared in a Tampa courtroom to face a sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

The Black Axe started as a fraternal organization on college campuses in Nigeria in the s.

Letter from Africa: Why Nigeria’s internet scammers are ‘role models’ They are usually romance scams, or phishing, which FBI special agent.

Official websites use. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. Ten men have been charged with conspiring to launder illegal proceeds that were fraudulently obtained as a result of Nigerian romance scam operation targeting multiple victims. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in October and unsealed today after seven suspects were apprehended in early morning operations executed by the FBI in three states.

Five defendants were arrested in Norman, Oklahoma, one defendant was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, and one defendant was arrested in Long Beach, California. Three other defendants remain at large. The indictment alleges that since , the co-conspirators concealed the proceeds of romance scam operations by moving money between and among multiple bank accounts that were opened using fraudulent identity documents to obscure the source of the funds and the identities of the co-conspirators.

Investigators identified at least three victims of the alleged romance scams in Seminole, Florida, Centerville, Ohio, and Pryor, Oklahoma. The indictment alleges the co-conspirators coordinated with unknown individuals overseas who had assumed false identities on online dating websites and social media platforms with the intent to defraud victims. The individual told the victims they were U. In fact, the investigation revealed that these individuals were located in Nigeria.

As the relationships continued, the requests would develop into increasingly larger sums of money, with the claimed purpose that the funds were needed to complete overseas projects or to return to the United States.

Men in California oversaw a romance scam that targeted women worldwide, feds say

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. A report from cybersecurity company Agari claims to expose one corner of the multimillion-dollar romance scam industry: a Nigerian fraud ring it dubs Scarlet Widow. As with other romance scams, members of Scarlet Widow created numerous fake personas to bait lonely men and women into online relationships.

Scarlet Widow created profiles on mainstream dating sites and apps, allegedly beginning in

In Oklahoma, 10 Nigerian and United States citizens were indicted in a fraud ring targeting multiple victims in three states. A grand jury in Georgia.

While 14 arrests have been made, a count federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Thursday Aug. The unsealed indictment shows the evolving tactics of online fraudsters which has seen them continue to dupe unwitting victims despite numerous awareness campaigns about the online scams. Through business email compromise scams BEC , fraudsters use hacked email accounts to convince businesses or individuals to make payments that are either bogus or similar to actual payments owed to legitimate companies.

As part of the scam, fraudsters learn about key personnel in companies who are responsible for the payments as well as the protocols necessary to perform wire transfers in various companies and then target businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments, Paul Delacourt, FBI assistant director in charge of the case said in a press briefing.

Before his arrest, Okeke had posed a successful entrepreneur and was featured on a Forbes under list as well a BBC Focus on Africa program. With long-running romance scam tactics through dating websites already well-known, fraudsters have gone as far as impersonating US soldiers and then seeking lovers on social media, particularly Facebook.

In some cases, rather than being asked to send money, victims of romance scams are deployed as money mules whose banks accounts are used to move illicit funds or are talked into opening accounts on behalf of criminals. US law enforcement have recently received complaints of such scams in all 50 states in the US, authorities also say. The high profile arrests have also triggered extreme reactions among Nigerians at home and abroad, many of whom daily experience the cost of national stereotyping that comes with the well-covered activity of online fraudsters, particularly with the wide spread of email scam attempts.

These costs range from increased scrutiny for visa processes , a lack of trust when attempting to do business internationally and being restricted from using international payment platforms. US officials say the busted ring was led by US-based operatives who facilitated the scams by opening US bank accounts where victims were directed to deposit money. Operatives then laundered the stolen funds through these accounts, ultimately funneling them to Nigeria and pocketing the proceeds.

Here’s how a ring of romance scammers tricked victims into falling in love

Sign in. Sign up. Dating Scam aka Romance Scam. Our site is absolutely FREE, friendly and clean of scam. This is the most scam intolerant dating service on the web! About Nigerian scams.

Internet scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money. In Nigeria, these scams are also referred to as scams. Click here for scam.

Please note: The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the entities or individuals whose names appear on the following lists. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department or the U. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information on the list is provided directly by the local service providers; the Department is not in a position to vouch for such information.

We receive inquiries every day from people who have been defrauded for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars by Internet contacts they thought were their friends or loved ones. Internet scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money.

Nigerian dating scam database with photos of scammers

In March , a man claiming to be a US Army captain stationed in Syria reached out to a Japanese woman on an international site for digital pen pals. Within weeks, their relationship grew into an internet romance with the man sending daily emails in English that she translated via Google. The man who called himself Terry Garcia asked for money — lots of it — from the woman identified as FK in federal court documents. But in reality, Garcia did not exist. It was all an international online scam ran by two Nigerian men in the Los Angeles area with the help of associates in their home country and other nations, federal officials say.

A cybersecurity report outlines the tactics of Scarlet Widow, an alleged romance scam ring operating out of Nigeria, after an FTC report called.

Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.

They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging.

They often claim to be from Australia or another western country, but travelling or working overseas. They may take months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but never actually come. They may also ask you to send pictures or videos of yourself, possibly of an intimate nature. Often the scammer will pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency.

For example, they may claim to have a severely ill family member who requires immediate medical attention such as an expensive operation, or they may claim financial hardship due to an unfortunate run of bad luck such as a failed business or mugging in the street. The scammer may also claim they want to travel to visit you, but cannot afford it unless you are able to lend them money to cover flights or other travel expenses.

Dating sites letters

We, humans, can become an easy target for malicious actors who want to steal our most valuable personal data. Criminal minds can reach these days further than before, into our private lives, our homes and work offices. And there is little we can do about it.

Here is the body of her email – so u can see it is exactly the same as yours and a form (scam) letter. Hey. Thanks so much for getting back to me I feel the clue.

An advance-fee scam is a form of fraud and one of the most common types of confidence tricks. The scam typically involves promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money, in return for a small up-front payment, which the fraudster requires in order to obtain the large sum. The Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI states that, “An advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in return.

There are many variations of this type of scam , including the scam, the Spanish Prisoner scam , the black money scam , the Nigerian Prince Scam, Fifo’s Fraud and the Detroit-Buffalo scam. While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well. The modern [ when?

In exchange for assistance, the scammer promised to share money with the victim in exchange for a small amount of money to bribe prison guards. The modern day [ when? There are many variants of the letters sent. One of these, sent via postal mail, was addressed to a woman’s husband, and inquired about his health. Other official-looking letters were sent from a writer who said he was a director of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. To get the process started, the scammer asked for a few sheets of the company’s letterhead, bank account numbers, and other personal information.

The spread of e-mail and email harvesting software significantly lowered the cost of sending scam letters by using the Internet. One reason Nigeria may have been singled out is the apparently comical, almost ludicrous nature of the promise of West African riches from a Nigerian prince.

Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

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The conspirators “sit in Internet cafes in Nigeria and conduct fraud online,” said FBI They include what are known as “romance scams,” where.

You spark up my entire thinking faculty. I am ready to stop searching, and who knows, the rose in my heart could be yours lol. Just you may wish to email too, my email benjohnson at G. L dot com You on my mind. There is this feeling that tells me you are as beautiful as your profile. Though what matters is the internal beauty but I would still like to see your picture.

I am interested in getting to know more about you. Perhaps, all the men around you are blind lol.

Letter from Africa: Why Nigeria’s internet scammers are ‘role models’

A scam letter is a document, distributed electronically or otherwise, to a recipient misrepresenting the truth with the aim of gaining an advantage in a fraudulent manner. Currently it is unclear how far back the origin of scam letters date. The oldest reference to the origin of scam letters could be found at the Spanish Prisoner scam. Based on mostly the same principles as the Nigerian advance-fee fraud scam, this scam letter informs recipients that their e-mail addresses have been drawn in online lotteries and that they have won large sums of money.

Here the victims will also be required to pay substantial small amounts of money in order to have the winning money released, which never materializes. Phishing scam letters, in short, are a notification from an online ‘financial institution’, requiring its clients to log into their accounts and verify or change their log-in details.

Long distance relationship scams (or romance scams) are shockingly common. Here are 5 common online dating scams and 9 ways you can protect yourself.

Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They profess their love quickly. And they tug at your heartstrings with made-up stories about how they need money — for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. Why all of the tricks?

The scammers transfer stolen money into the new account, and then tell their victims to wire the money out of the country. Here are some warning signs that an online love interest might be a fake. They ask you to:. Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. There may be tens of thousands of victims, and only a small fraction report it to the FTC. If this happens to you, please report it at ftc.

I have seen this a couple of times. I can tell by their english.

Why People Still Fall for the Nigerian Email Scam