Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Stings, Busts, Arrests and Convictions of Nigerian Scammers

According to a July, 1999 Interpol survey the highest number of related arrests occurred in South Africa, which reported the arrest of 56 individuals. Most of these arrestees (22) came from Liberia, 12 were from Cameroon, 8 from Nigeria, 6 from South Africa, 3 from Rwanda, 3 from Congo and 2 from Zimbabwe.

Secret Service Response to Nigerian Organized Crime Syndicates

In the late 1980s, the Secret Service took a proactive approach to combating Nigerian organized crime by establishing and maintaining task forces throughout the United States whose main focus was the investigation of financial fraud committed by Nigerian nationals and their accomplices.

Membership in these task forces included representatives from the United States Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, bank investigators from the private sector, as well as numerous state and local law enforcement agencies. This diverse membership is indicative of the multitude of crimes being perpetrated by Nigerian criminals.

These crimes include credit card fraud, bank fraud, check kiting, various types of insurance fraud, entitlement fraud, false identification, passport and visa fraud, marriage fraud to obtain U.S. citizenship, vehicle thefts, the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, and the counterfeiting of corporate checks and other obligations.

These attacks on our nation's financial systems usually involve careful planning, a precise execution of the scheme, and often focus on taking advantage of financial systems designed to be consumer or customer friendly.

In fact, one of the first groups that the Secret Service identified as being heavily involved in the crime of access device fraud was a loosely organized criminal element within the growing Nigerian population in the United States.

Experience has shown that seldom, if ever, are these enterprises engaged in one form of criminal activity to the exclusion of other types of crime. These organizations are responsible for financial crimes and fraud schemes costing Americans, and citizens of countries around the world, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, as well as for the importation of a significant amount of the heroin used in the United States, and much of the cocaine smuggled to Europe, Asia and Africa.

Nigerian criminal enterprises have proven to be particularly adept at taking advantage of opportunities created by the combined effects of globalization and the information technology revolution.

They are now engaged in a broad range of criminal activities that reach across borders and victimize citizens, businesses and financial institutions in Africa, Europe, Canada, the United States and around the world. Nigerian criminal enterprises present unique challenges to law enforcement because their organizational structures and criminal activities are so varied.

Structure of Nigerian Criminal Organizations

Nigerian criminal groups are highly fluid in personnel and in methods of operation. Although there is a degree of structure to these organizations, their hierarchical composition and relationships are not comparable to those of more traditional criminal organizations.

In terms of structure, these enterprises seem to range from independent entrepreneurs to highly organized syndicates. These groups are able to change and adapt as needed, both in the nature of the criminal activities they pursue, and in the members they employ. This flexibility allows them to remain in operation and to insulate themselves from law enforcement.

The speed with which some of these groups react to enforcement efforts and adopt new techniques demonstrates the effectiveness of their inter-group intelligence sharing and the coordination between the various syndicates.

Although crimes committed by groups of Nigerians may seem unrelated, connections and patterns are being developed in criminal activities from credit card fraud to drug smuggling, and from identity theft to money laundering.

The speed with which some of these groups react to enforcement efforts and adopt new techniques demonstrates the effectiveness of their inter-group intelligence sharing and the coordination between the various syndicates.

To be successful, it is critical that law enforcement agencies share information and coordinate their efforts as effectively as the syndicates they investigate.

In May of 1996, pursuant to PDD-42, a federal law enforcement interagency working group was created to develop a domestic law enforcement strategy regarding Nigerian organized crime.

The strategy that was developed targeted both domestic and international Nigerian criminal activity, and emphasized increased coordination of U.S. law enforcement, the sharing of investigative leads and information, and enhanced cooperation with our foreign law enforcement counterparts to coordinate multinational cases and investigations.

Moreover, by improving coordination and dialogue with the government of Nigeria, especially Nigerian law enforcement officials, this strategy strengthened their ability to combat crime occurring within Nigeria, and assist in combating crimes committed elsewhere in the world by individuals and organizations located in Nigeria. The proposed enforcement effort of the strategy became known as the Nigerian Crime Initiative (NCI).

The working group also proposed to utilize a computer database to share Nigerian case data electronically. It was later agreed that the Department of Defense/Defense Information Systems Agency’s Anti-Drug Network (ADNET) would be the mechanism for sharing this information. ADNET uses web-based technologies and a classified communication system to enable participants to securely exchange data.

Interagency Nigerian Organized Crime Task Force (INOCTF)

In 1998, then-Attorney General Reno approved the recommendation of the working group to establish the Interagency Nigerian Organized Crime Task Force (INOCTF). Additionally, it established the installation of the ADNET-NCI system to support these task forces and selected foreign sites.

It was recognized by the interagency working group that the Secret Service had been combating criminal issues related to Nigerian organized crime prior to the creation of the working group in 1996. The Secret Service had hosted existing task forces designed to combat aspects of Nigerian organized crime—specifically that of access device fraud—since the late 1980s.

It was agreed by the Attorney General and participants of the interagency working group that existing Secret Service Nigerian Task Forces would evolve into new Interagency Nigerian Organized Crime Task Forces (INOCTFs).

Additionally, these task forces would continue to be hosted by the Secret Service. It was also agreed that the creation of future task force sites and the agency-host of these sites would be determined at the discretion of the interagency working group.

Secret Service Nigerian Crime Task Forces

Accordingly, Secret Service hosted INOCTFs were established from existing Secret Service Nigerian Crime task forces located in New York, Newark, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta. The process of installing ADNET terminals for these offices began in early 1998 and was completed in late 1999.

Since the inception of NCI, other task forces have been established in Dallas and Washington, DC. Proposed NCI task force sites include Baltimore and Los Angeles. Overseas, ADNET terminals have been installed at the U.S. Consulates in Lagos, Nigeria, and Accra, Ghana.

These overseas terminals help to further the law enforcement efforts waged against Nigerian organized crime in those countries. Additional terminals have been installed at the headquarters of most of the participating agencies involved with NCI.

The Secret Service provides the following resources as host to a task force:

A full-time Criminal Research Specialist (CRS), trained in the use of the ADNET terminal, is assigned directly to each task force. This individual acts as a point-of-contact for all participating task force personnel. The CRS can provide information obtained from ADNET to all law enforcement participants assigned to the task force.

Task force space is also provided. Each task force site must follow strict security regarding the housing of each ADNET terminal. Each site must also allow independent access to members of each participating agency twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

It has been the experience of the Secret Service that the criminal groups involved in financial crimes routinely operate in a multi-jurisdictional environment.

By working closely with other federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, as well as international police agencies, they have been able to jointly develop a comprehensive network of intelligence sharing, resource sharing, and technical expertise that bridges jurisdictional boundaries.

Moreover, the use of a classified, secure communication system, and its attendant regulations and protections, furthers the goal of safeguarding the privacy of citizens.

These task forces have had success in disrupting the access device and bank fraud activities of these groups, and have even been able to affect ongoing advanced fee fraud schemes, demonstrated by recent investigations in New York.

In two separate undercover investigations, meetings were arranged in which members of the INOCTF, posing as Nigerian advance fee fraud victims, met with suspects who were perpetrating a “black money”scam. In one such meeting, the “sales pitch”of the suspects, and their demonstration of the chemical process for removing the black substance from a genuine $100 Federal Reserve Note, was captured on video tape.

These meetings led to the arrest of four suspects on wire fraud charges. Subsequently, two federal search warrants were executed on a residence and a storage locker used by another suspect, who was thought to control the majority of the advanced fee fraud activity in the New York metropolitan area, particularly "black money" scams.

Extensive documentary and electronic evidence was seized, including volumes of victim information and four footlocker style trunks containing approximately one thousand pounds of "black money.”A review of the recovered documents has enabled INOCTF members to link eight defendants from other advanced fee fraud related cases to this suspect, and identified actual losses in excess of $3 million.

Despite such successful investigations by the INOCTF, lasting success in dismantling the advanced fee fraud operations of Nigerian criminal enterprises has been much more elusive.

One problem has been that advanced fee fraud schemes originate in Nigeria and other West African countries with letters, faxes, and e-mails, and the suspects defraud U.S. citizens without ever entering the United States.

This is accomplished by either conducting all of the “business”by telephone, fax, mail, e-mail, and wire, or by having face-to-face meetings in Canada, the United Kingdom, or Africa.

Interdiction efforts and consumer education initiatives have been further complicated by the evolution of the schemes themselves.

Nigerian criminal enterprises have adopted new technologies and modern marketing practices more quickly than most multi-national corporations, constantly refining their delivery methods and their “pitch”to circumvent the efforts of law enforcement and consumer protection agencies.

Task Force Working with Nigerian National Police out of U.S. Embassy in Lagos

In an effort to take the fight against these criminal organizations to its source, on January 12, 1999, the Secret Service began a cooperative effort with the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, and the Nigerian National Police (NNP). The purpose of this effort was to provide operational, investigative and training assistance to the NNP and other Nigerian federal law enforcement agencies.

A task force was established in Lagos, Nigeria that was initially staffed by two Special Agents of the Secret Service on rotating temporary assignments.

Over the next sixteen months, using information supplied by the eleven domestic task forces, the Secret Service assisted the NNP in executing search warrants at more than one hundred suspected advance fee fraud plants around Lagos, which in turn resulted in nearly two hundred arrests.

Information developed by the task force in Lagos also led to the arrests of Nigerian criminals operating within the United States, as well as the identification and seizure of the proceeds of advanced fee fraud schemes secreted in financial institutions in the United States.

Due to the overwhelming success of this initiative, as well as the support of the U.S. Embassy, the newly established U.S. Consulate, and the NNP, the Secret Service established a permanent office in Lagos in June of 2000, which has continued to build on the positive trend begun by the temporary initiative.

The Secret Service is proud of the relationships we have developed, and have continued to strengthen, with our foreign law enforcement counterparts, especially the Special Frauds Unit of the Nigerian National Police and believes that such international partnerships are an essential component of efforts to carry out the mandate of PDD-42.

Increased cooperation among federal, state, and local officials in the U.S., our foreign partners, international organizations, and private institutions around the world, is the only way to make an effective and united stand against transnational crime.

1998 Hong Kong - A total of 42 victims with losses amounting to US$1.7 million have reported to the Hong Kong Police Force's Commercial Crime Bureau in the last three years.

Traveling businessmen are eager to purchase the chemical solution that would turn a suitcase of useless blackened paper into the real thing so "Black Money" conmen from Nigeria and other West African countries such as Cameroon and the Ivory Coast come to Hong Kong as visitors and meet their victims in hotel rooms.

Arrests of West African syndicate members made in connection with a variety of frauds committed in Hong Kong include 21 in 1996, two dozen in 97, and nine so far in 1998.

One investigation resulted in the seizure of 11,460 Nigerian advanced fee fraud letters mailed via the Hong Kong Post Office, which represented 95% of the incoming mail from Nigeria.

The addresses had been sourced from local and international telephone directories and various business publications.
Nigerian scam letters

More Accounts Than Fingers

(05/97) The Nigeria Police Force sought to apprehend Richie Edward Ojeba, alias Gary Bootha from Ibira, Kogi State, Nigeria, for alleged advance fee fraud

Acting on a tip, the special fraud unit raided his residence at Number 8, Ojora Close, Victoria Island, Lagos and found incriminating documents against him including information on the 14 foreign bank accounts under different names listed below.

A. Dairo Esq A/C No. 91188488
Midland Bank Belgravia Branch
89 Buckingham Palace Road London SWIW OQL
Williams Davies A/C No. 11018752
Midland Bank, University Branch,
7 Oxford Street, Liverpool L 7 7 BJ A.J.B.
P. E. Owokalu
A/C No. 71153293
Midland Bank - St. Clement Danes
194 Strand, London, WCZR IDX
H. Ilori A/C No. 00395323
Barclays Bank, Marble Arch. International Branch,
15 Great Cumberland Place, London WIH 8AE
T. O. Akpom A/C No. 60107875
Barclays Bank, South Hampstead (Swiss Cottage) Branch,
135 Finchley Road, London, NW3 6JA
A. Ogunbayi External Account A/C No. 90676225
Barclays Bank, Southampton Warsash Branch,
1 Shore Road, Warsash, Southampton, S03, 6FS A
G. Uyanna A/C No.10909564
Barclays Bank, Barclays Business Centre W2 Branch,
127/131 Edgware Road, London W2 2HT
M. B. Unuane A/C No.0948218
Lloyds Bank, Willesden Green Branch,
1 Walm Lane London NW2, 5SN
T.A. Kumolu Johnson A/C No.010708"02
Lloyds Bank - Camden Town Branch,
140 Camden High Street, London NWI ONG
Mr. A. Ajiboye A/C No.15277070.02
National Westminster Bank Plo., Lewisham Branch,
80 Lewisham High Street, London SE 13 5JJ
Mr. N. O. Alowonle A/C No.33553203.02
National Westminster Bank, Acton Vale Branch,
2 The Vale, London W3 7Ry
Mr. N. Abu A/C No.59630760.02
National Westminster Bank, Jersey, Colomberie Branch,
P. O. Box No. 54 Colomberie St.,
Helier Jersey JE4 8PD
Mr. P. Oriakhi A/C No.07220626.84
National Westminister Bank, Orchard House Branch,
P.O. Box 3BP, 466 Oxford Street, London WIA 3BP
Docteur Christian Rey A/C No.287100249520
Credit Lyonnais, 13008 Marseille Grant,
318 Avenue Du Prado, Tel. 91-76-43-73 Comp

December 2001 - After a year-long investigation, police in Hamilton, Ontario believe they have arrested a major kingpin in a Nigerian fraud scheme who could be connected to a number of frauds totaling $1 million but are presently unsure of his real identity.

When he was arrested he carried several sets of identification, including driver's licences, all legitimately issued but based on false information, along with traffic tickets issued to false names.

He is charged with obstructing justice for providing false identification to a Toronto court though police allege the man has gone through courts in Hamilton, Toronto and York region several times and provided phony identification each time. He is also charged in York region with various fraud crimes including fraud over $5,000.

Police believe the man is connected to a number of bank account takeover fraud offences whereby someone bribes bank employees for sensitive information then assumes an account holder's identity and drains their account. It is feared that various government agencies were also compromised to produce phony identification.

October 2001 - Indicating that advance fee frauds are not always perpetrated by Nigerians is the arrest in South Africa of a local attorney, an Australian and a Jordanian.

The arrests followed a crime intelligence driven operation by members from Crime Intelligence Gathering Head Office, members from the Johannesburg Commercial Branch and members from the Pretoria Intervention Unit.

The operation was launched after a European citizen was approached and requested to assist in transferring 65 million US dollars from an account in Spain to South Africa.

Nigerians arrested for international scams

July 2001 - Four Nigerians suspected to be operating a "419" scam on the Internet to dupe unsuspecting foreign investors in Ghana have been arrested by security agencies. Their activities are believed to have led to the loss of several millions of foreign currencies by prospective investors.

William Gbenka Obanla, alias William Stobofield; Obijagwan Polycarp, alias Tony Ibrahim Watara; Stanly Bateren and Blessing Orhrreiato are currently on bail pending further investigations.

Stobofield led the security team to retrieve correspondence stored at an Internet café after which he led them to arrest his other three accomplices.

July 10, 2001 (Toronto, Ontario) —The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Toronto West Detachment Commercial Crime Section announced the results of a three year investigation that has hopefully dismantled a highly sophisticated international criminal organization operating in the Greater Toronto Area and victimizing people around the world.

This alleged criminal group has been perpetrating a large scale international fraud known as the West African-based Organized Advance Fee Fraud or more commonly known as the "Nigerian letter scam".

The RCMP alleges that this criminal group is part of a larger criminal organization based in Nigeria and that this group has been perpetrating this scam for over 8 years in the Greater Toronto Area.

To date, the RCMP has identified over 300 victims from around the world. Most victims are from the United States, although victims have been identified in Europe and Asia. Individual losses range from $52 thousand US to over $5 million US.

Victims include busy professionals from all walks of life - a cattle rancher, an insurance agent, a hotel chain owner, a brewery consultant, an importer-exporter and a recreational vehicle salesperson to name a few.

In 1998, acting on a complaint from a victim who was asked to travel to Toronto, common elements surfaced concerning several on-going investigations in both Canada by the RCMP and in the United States by the FBI and the US Secret Service.

The RCMP and the FBI immediately began a co-operative investigation under Canadian Eagle in association with the US Secret Service. Canadian Eagle is a US/ Canadian law enforcement partnership between the RCMP and the FBI mandated to investigate organized crime groups that are conducting fraudulent cross-border telemarketing activity.

Arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud; fraud against the general public; and laundering the proceeds of crime are:

Wenceslaus UTOMI, age 47, of Country Heights, Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Ainsley Anthony DRAKES, age 34, of Genella Square, Toronto, Ontario.

Richard BREWSTER, age 33, of Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario

West African-based Organized Advance Fee Frauds normally occur in two phases. In this particular case, Phase 1 of this fraud was controlled out of Nigeria. Phase 2 of this fraud was operated out of the Greater Toronto area.

Typically, in the first phase of this type of fraud, intended victims receive a letter allegedly from officials of a large Nigerian institution, such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation or the Central Bank of Nigeria.

These are mass solicitations with potential victims identified from sources such as corporate directories, professional memberships or trade publications.

These letters request an urgent and confidential business relationship between the perpetrators of the fraud and the intended victim to transfer funds out of Nigeria to financial institutions in the victim's nation of residence. The funds are generally represented as over-invoiced contracts typically in the range of $25 million US.

The letters are allegedly from Nigerian civil servants who claim to have a legitimate right to the over-invoiced funds. Normally, the letter explains that Nigerian civil servants are forbidden to own or operate a foreign account and therefore they need the assistance of the intended victim.

The intended victim is falsely offered payment for his assistance, usually in the amount of 10 to 30 percent of the total contract.

He is asked to forward personal financial information including banking information as well as copies of their corporate letterhead and invoices so that the payment can be made through a contract claim in the victim's name.

The victim is also asked to wire a payment of approximately $10,000 US supposedly for legal fees and administration costs in order to secure the business arrangement.

Once the victim discloses the required personal financial information and corporate documents and wires the required payment, the "hook is in" and Phase 2 of the scam begins.

In Phase 2, the same victim receives a telephone call from confederates in the criminal organization posing as merchant bankers employed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The victim is falsely advised that the total contract funds have cleared Nigeria and are now in an alleged clearing house or mercantile bank in North America.

In this particular case, these fraudulent entities were known as:

- The Olympic Finance Clearing House and the Dow Financial Corporation, both allegedly based in Toronto.

- The Commercial Mercantile Corporation, allegedly based in Detroit.

- The National Foreign Exchange, allegedly based in New York City.

- The American Fidelity Corporation, allegedly based in Chicago.

- International Contract Affairs, allegedly based in Nassau, Bahamas.

Although these alleged financial institutions were purported to be in cities in North America and the Caribbean, phone numbers connected to these entities were call-forwarded to a "boiler room" in the Greater Toronto Area.

Typically, the scam continues when the victim is informed that before the money promised them can be claimed, there are further outstanding fees that the victim must pay.

These fees are alleged to be charges for such items as taxes, duties or environmental levies and can range from approximately $50,000 US to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Once these fees are paid, the victim is approached to pay even further fees. The scam continues until the victim is broke. The fraudulent business deal is never consummated.

Investigation revealed that none of the victims in this particular case received any money from these business arrangements nor a return of any of their investments.

According to calculations, this criminal group would need access to in excess of $8 billion US in order to satisfy the contracts they represented.

Perpetrators of this type of crime use aliases, fraudulent corporate identities and a variety of false documentation to convince victims of the legitimacy of their criminal enterprise.

Typically, the confederates in the criminal organization who contact the victims by phone are knowledgeable in international banking, are well-spoken and professional in their dialogue and behavior with the victims.

They speak impeccable English, are well-educated and renowned world-travelers. They are well-practiced in the "confidence game".

Perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud are careful not to victimize people in the country in which they conduct their criminal activity. They do this in order to isolate themselves from both victims and the police in order to avoid detection.

Authorities have not identified, to date, a Canadian victim of the suspects they arrested. However, it is important to note that there are Canadian victims of this type of fraud who have been targeted by criminal organizations operating outside of Canada.

"The Nigerian letter scam" is an increasing problem - a "growth crime" within the Greater Toronto Area for the past 10 years. The RCMP Toronto West Detachment receives at least one complaint a week from a victim who has lost money.

All police services in Ontario are receiving complaints and all police services in the Greater Toronto Area have active investigations into this type of fraud.

Nigerian Central Bank CBN Official Nabbed for Fraud

On January 5th, 2001 the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. M. R. Rasheed was charged in a US Federal District Court with lying under oath and providing false testimony regarding his direct involvement in setting up secret offshore accounts and trusts.

A United States of America attorney, currently suing the Central Bank of Nigeria and it's Deputy Governor Mr. M.R. Rasheed, presented documents and evidence substantiating the CBN official Mr. Rasheed personally set up offshore bank accounts and trusts with a UK company named Trident Trust located in London England.

The startling evidence presented to the US Federal Court is said to be so damaging and conclusive that Nigerian President Obasanjo has instructed the Nigerian appointed US legal team to withdraw from the court case, leaving Mr. Rasheed to defend himself.

It has been confirmed that the law firm of Williams, Youle and Koenigs has submitted a formal motion to the US court, asking to withdraw as counsel for the Nigerian Central Bank and all Nigerian defendants.

At the center of the evidence is "The Heedras Trust" naming Mr. Rasheed as the prime beneficiary along with numerous supporting documents, including Trident Trust memos outlining; meetings, invoices, account numbers and phone calls with Mr. Rasheed directly.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Paul Ogwuma, has been named as a respondent in not less than two 419 related lawsuits filed in Federal Court in the United States. In a "finding of fact" by a US Court in the Adler Case awhile back he was found to be involved.

There is sworn eyewitness testimony from several of the plaintiffs that they met with him in his offices at CBN. Additional sworn testimony states that they were able to call CBN at verifiable CBN numbers, ask for, and speak with Mr. Ogwuma.

The 419 Coalition indicates that there is also nonpublic evidence concerning at least one other high CBN official as well.

JANUARY 2001 - Though convinced of the merits of Prime Bank Investments, New Zealand accountant Kerry Francis was convicted and sent to jail for 4½ years on 18 charges of fraud, theft and forgery primarily as a result of being "sucked in" by a Nigerian investment scam.

The 51-year-old, with a degree in commerce and administration, ripped off almost $750,000 of his clients' money after losing $450,000 in the Nigerian "investment" in 1996. He was able to deceive his clients and others because they trusted him when he said his Cash Flow Finance Ltd was sound.

He sees his arrest as part of a conspiracy by the authorities trying to stop any investment in high-yield programs. "The authorities don't want the average Joe investing in higher-than-normal returns. You can understand the reason - it would put the banking system under threat."

Insisting that he never intended to take his clients' money; that if he had had more time, and if the Serious Fraud Office had not interfered, it all would have worked out and everyone would have been paid.

Francis said he became aware 20 years ago of the overnight money market, which produced high returns but he did not have the opportunity to explore it until he came across a man who showed him how Prime Bank instruments supposedly worked.

The Serious Fraud Office says these markets do not exist and while the charges against Francis are not linked to prime bank instrument investments, it was his name being linked to them that sparked the office's investigation in 1999.

While investigating Imperial Consolidated, an offshore company based in the Bahamas which offered significantly higher returns, the SFO tripped over the London investment program he was involved in, which included local investors' contributions of $2 million.

He is adamant that the victims of his fraud will get their money back, as he is due some commission from a "perfectly legitimate offshore transaction".

The "Show Me the Money" State

Peter Kalu (DOB 7/1/70) and Vincent Onyeka (DOB 6/4/64), a naturalized Canadian citizen, have been charged with attempted fraud in Canada, and will face extradition to Missouri where they appear to face only one count each of unlawful merchandising practices which as class D felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The investigation began after a Polk County man received an e-mail from a man claiming to be a former government official from the Democratic Republic of Congo, now living in Nigeria.

He offered the man 15% of $80 million in exchange for the man’s help in transferring the money to Canada. In a later conversation, the supposed government official told him that he would need to provide $8,400 to cover fees, charges, taxes and expenses so the money could be transferred.

After contacting local authorities, the case was referred to the Missouri Attorney General’s High Technology and Computer Crime Unit which had the Missouri man contact the government official and agree to meet a contact of a diplomatic security company at a hotel in Toronto to "clear the cargo" and receive his share of the money.

Instead of meeting the Missourian, however, Kalu and Onyeka, who brought along a large metal security box containing packets of paper cut to the size of American money wrapped in plastic with real $1 bills on the top of each stack, were met by Toronto police officers who arrested them and then seized three computers and lists of information from a business address in Toronto connected with the two men.

There, police obtained logs of telephone conversations with alleged victims in the U.S., and lists of those victims; one American on the list reportedly lost $3 million in the scam.

Since announcing the felony charges, two scam victims in Missouri have reported recent losses totaling more than $90,000.

Toronto police also reported they found evidence that money obtained in the scam was going first to Toronto, then to Nova Scotia, and finally to an offshore account in the Cayman Islands.

Missourians who have complaints or inquiries about Nigerian money scams can e-mail or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222.

NOV 2000 - In Nigeria, three men have been charged with 419 in an Ibadan court. Here are their names: - Zino Oziwo - Omotayo Idris Dipo - Chinadu Lloyd Nwankwo. Authorities are also seeking Paul Onuwa Uwechue.

10 NOV 2000 - A member of the Nigerian Police Force Special Fraud Unit sent the 419 Coalition hardcopy of a piece which appeared in the 25 SEP 2000 issue of the The News, a Nigerian news magazine, as the Cover story.

The piece titled "The Fraud Kingpins" by Obiora Nwosis lists:

1. Barrister Fred Chijindu Ajudua, 40, a.k.a. Dr. Coker: served five years in a Nigerian prison for 419 fraud of foreigner, Nelson Allen who lost $515,000. The same year, Ziab Abdul Zalaf lost a total of $775,000 to him while American, Mr. Montia Rice lost $1.6 million in 1995 and a German widow, Mrs. Frieda Springer-Beck lost $402,000.

He was also accused of forging a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) receipt for about $150,000 and an American International Insurance Company (AIICO) Nigeria Limited receipt with the intention to defraud.

2. Ade Bendel a.k.a. Adedeji Alumile from Hiveevie, a tiny village in the heart of Owan Local Government Area of Edo State. His victims count their losses in hundreds of millions and only the lucky ones among them escape with just a few millions.
3. Victor Okafor a.k.a. Ezego
4. Dele Ilori
5. Chief John Nebolisa, alias JONEB, Banji Balogun, Obinna Okoroafor, Eze Collins, Chief. C. Onuoha and Mike Ajasin Ikoku
6. Banji Balogun
7. Obi Eze a.k.a. Tanko Ibrahim, Chief Bola Ige, Phillip Asiodu, Prof. Inua Haruna, Prof. Sharafa Gambari, Uffot Ekaette, Chief Idris Umar
8. Shina One Ore
9. Tunde Adaba
10. Tayo Osekita
11. Solomon Agbaje
12. Chief C. Onuoha
13. Bright Ezeguze
14. Tope Eleti a.k.a. Tope Alabi has his base around Ogba in Lagos
15. Prof. Peller
16. Collins Eze
17. Aminu Isiaka
18. George Chidera
19. Osara Onaiwu
20. Obina Okoroafor

The article details some of the actions of some of these men and how they operate. It also explains how they manage to move in elite and governmental circles with relative impunity.

The piece is headlined as an "expose on the top runners in the 419 world." It also notes that not just foreigners but also Nigerians themselves are often victims of 419.

Prominent lawyers, bankers and notable clergymen have all fallen victim to a variation which makes them believe that they are going to be involved in the mining of Crude Zekonia.

SEP 2000 - The United States Secret Service is said to have carried out 150 investigations into financial crimes in Nigeria leading to no fewer than 220 arrests since January, last year.

Sept 2000 - The police in Lagos arrested one Prince Lucky Amafule, 40, aka Tailor Briggs who was purported to have written a letter to the director of a Japanese company in the name of the CBN governor with the intention of defrauding him by requesting about $3.6 million, being 10% of the total sum of a supposed contract.

Items recovered from the suspect who claimed to be the director of Lumpalex International Limited were a fax machine, telephone hand sets, an international passport, and several envelopes purportedly addressed to would-be victims.

Better a Killer Than a Con

One scammer in Nigeria thought up a slow but steady way of fleecing a big-time business woman. The fraudster started by having an affair with the woman who was then married but did not immediately show his hand.

Rather, he concentrated on how best to be a model lover. He identified what was dearest to the woman, her children. He regularly asked after them and sent them gifts. The woman’s trust in him increased.

She gave him the photographs of her family. He returned all except that of the husband. Then the scam.

The fraudster offered to help the woman buy some foreign exchange and the woman parted with N5 million. The conman simply vanished.

Realising she had been duped, the woman reported to the police who succeeded in arresting the trickster. Prepared in advance, he was able to turn the tide against the woman.

He showed the police the withheld photograph of the woman’s husband, saying the woman gave her the N5 million to kill the husband. Suggesting that since the man committed no offence, he felt there was no reason for him to kill the man.

He was sprung. The woman was driven out of her home by the husband.

AUG 2000 - Lagos Police arrested three suspects for being in possession of various government letter headings allegedly used for the Advance Fee Fraud (419).

Arrested were Francis Agugom, Uzoukwu Ikenna and Chigozie Okorie, though two other suspects are still on the run including Mr. Emmanuel Onuoha (principal suspect) was said to have traveled outside the state with other vital documents that could lead to the arrest of several other accomplices.

Letters purportedly written from the Presidency, Office of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt and Union Bank of Switzerland were recovered from the suspects.

The arrest was prompted by one Mr. Eric of Snelcoky, Finland who had paid over $857,000 to the group.

The Biggest Stones Around

05/99 - In a bit of reverse twist, an Italian, Ferilli Gino, has been arrested by the Nigerian Special Fraud Unit (SFU) for alleged Advance Fee Fraud (419), for trying, along with several Nigerians, to actually defraud a Nigerian within that country. A police officer, no less.

In April an anonymous caller, supposedly from Japan, knowingly attempted to lure in a police officer saying that he was the president of a company in Japan which deals in precious stones and that his company was looking for a Nigerian of repute who could supply them.

The caller maintained that before now, the stones were being sourced from Nigeria and South Africa but that the company stopped ordering from South Africa because of low quality.

He said that the regular Nigerian supplier whom he named as Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya had died and as such the company was looking for a credible Nigerian with the wherewithal to take over the business. The caller claimed he got to know of the officer through the officer's brother whom he had worked with in Nigeria.

Sensing that this was a scam, the officer quickly alerted the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) but agreed to play along in the deal. He co-opted another female police officer whom he introduced on the phone to the caller as his wife and further said that the wife would be doing most of the transactions.

After a series of discussions on the phone, the caller told the officer that his Export/Purchasing Manager, Dr. Francis Carlos, would be arriving in Nigeria on April 22, to finally wrap up the deal and also take back samples of the precious stones.

On the appointed date the fake Dr. Francis Carlos arrived and phoned the police officer saying that he was lodging at the Ikoyi Hotels and so he should come with the wife to seal-up the deal. Instead, police arrested him.

His Nigerian accomplices, Fatai Olaosebikan, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed and Aminu Sikiru Eniola who were stationed at Ilupeju, Lagos and Abeokuta have also been arrested while their leader identified as Kunle Dorherthy Kunle is now on the run.

DEC 1997 - Malaysian authorities made arrests concerning a Nigerian 419 ring which had been operating there since 1991.

They have defrauded a string of businessmen from South Korea, New Zealand, Palestine, Austria, and Malaysia. They are also believed to have defrauded several banks using fake drafts and other instruments.

A Nigerian holding a Zimbabwean passport under the name Tinet Siketha Bahle - Mwammuha was at the center of this 419 ring.

DEC 1997 - Douglas Arthur Cole a.k.a. Peter McGrath a.k.a. William H. Miles whose ring may have been responsible for up to $20 million in fraud worldwide was convicted of 22 counts of 419 related charges in the US District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

His company, United Guaranty Audit (among other names) would receive a 10-20% commission on 419 monies he moved from victims around the world to Nigerian controlled bank accounts in New York, Australia, and London.

Cole/McGrath has cooperated with Federal Authorities in building cases against his Nigerian co-conspirators in London and Lagos.

Edwin Berman was convicted in Florida in March 1997, receiving a sentence of five years probation after cooperating with US authorities in Operation Big Ben, which led to the arrest of three London-based Nigerian 419ers.

DEC 97 - Agents of the Dusseldorf State Bureau of Investigations (LKA) arrested a gang of 419ers which had been operating in Germany since 1988.

Seven of the eighteen members of the gang were arrested, two of which were German nationals. It is estimated that the gang, which operated worldwide, had caused a loss of a minimum of 200 million German marks in Germany alone.

AUG 97 - The Washington Post reported that three Laurel MD residents have been found guilty of impersonating officials of the Government of Nigeria and Nigerian organizations in 419ing businesses and individuals worldwide of over $5 million.

Christian Egwu, Hope Egwu, and Chidozie Onyeknowu admitted to the crimes and have been sentenced to 20-30 years in prison each and fines up to $2.5 million as a group.

DEC 98 - At least 17 Nigerians have been arrested and detained for allegedly indulging in Advance Fee Fraud, in Abidjan, the Ivorian capital.

The fraudsters were using two sweet- tongued Nigerian ladies whose job was mainly to entice and lure at least 50 Ivorian Asian businessmen in Abidjan into investing their thousands of dollars in non-existent transactions.

The Ivorian police authorities said they were using Abidjan as their operational base while living in a high class neighbourhood where they paid more than two years rent in advance.

DEC 98 - The superior court of Düsseldorf (Stadtschutzkammer) sentenced the head of a 419 operation, 34 year old Godwin Usiayo (a naturalized German) of Nigerian origin to 5 years imprisonment while his assistant Frank Edafe who was apparently responsible for telephone connections and logistics was sentenced to 4 years.

Edafe accused the German telephone organization Telekom for not acting swiftly to cut-off telephone lines with which the criminal activities were carried out and suggested they profited from an apparently potential lucrative subscriber despite high unpaid bills.

Victims include Americans, Australians, Britons and Italians. Godwin Usiayo apparently owns luxury cars and villas in Nigeria.

OCT-98 ABIDJAN, Cote d'Ivoire

Nine Nigerians suspected to be members of a notorious international "419" crime syndicate have been arrested in Cote d'Ivoire, while attempting to defraud a Japanese businessman.

The dangerous swindlers were headed by Akpan, (alias Doctor Innocent Anih) and Jacob Effiong (alias Prince), who are on the run.

Those arrested are Benjamin Chuka, Eric Owobo, Aladji Ousmane, Mustapha Amzar, Jude N'Wadike, Theodore Oediman, Antony Paul Lenus, Friday Ogou and Anyawiri Ikechukwu.

The police said the suspects were using the names of fictitious companies like, Global Security, Assistance 2000, Transworld and CIE, Uptrust Finance and Security to defraud their numerous victims while operating in Cote d'Ivoire for the past three years.

They organised a meeting in Abidjan during which they managed to convince the potential victim of the genuineness of their proposal. After the negotiations, the Japanese opened an account in Abidjan into which he asked the swindlers to deposit the amount for onward transfer to Japan.

Instead of doing that, the swindlers demanded he give them $28,000 U.S. dollars as guarantee, which the Japanese did. They came the next day asking for more by providing a bag full of fake US dollars, but their victim, now suspicious, asked them to return the next day, after which he informed his embassy which alerted the police.

Nigerian embassy officials in Abidjan say they warned the Ivorian authorities that the group was on the wanted list of their own country but were told that Cote d'Ivoire had an open economic policy, so whoever had money to invest was welcomed.

MAR 98 - Hong Kong Police arrested 54 primarily Nigerian 419ers responsible for an estimated $70 million in monies scammed worldwide.

13,350 fraud related letters were also seized, 95% of which came from Nigeria, most with forged stamps and postmarks, according to Hong Kong Police Commercial Crime Bureau Chief Inspector Matthew Hemmings.

MAR 98 - The Traditional ruler of Awkuzu in Anambra State, Igwe John Nebolisa, was yesterday docked along with two others over alleged advance fee fraud at the Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Igwe Nebolisa, Dr Akinsanya and John Achionye reportedly defrauded a London-based Portuguese, Jose Manuel Santos-Periera of over $300,000.

FEB 1998 - Four Advance Fee Fraud '419' criminal suspects have been convicted by the Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal in Lagos.

Those convicted were Bright Ezekusi, Benjamin Inana, Helen Osuntuyi and Wilson Egbon on a seven (7) count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, use of premises, fraudulent invitation and impersonation under the Advance Fee Fraud Decree.

Tribunal Chairman, Justice Dorothy Edem sentenced them as follows:

On the first count, Bright Ezekusi and Benjamin Inana (1st and 2nd accused) were found guilty of conspiracy to the commission of the crime and were sentenced to 10 years each with hard labour, while the 3rd and 4th accused, Helen Osuntuyi and Wilson Egbon, were discharged and acquitted.

On the second count, both first and second accused were found guilty of obtaining $60,000 US dollars from one Mr. Sigh Bajwa and sentenced to 15 years each on that count. Similarly, they were found guilty of obtaining $285,000 US dollars from the complainant, which bagged them another15 years with hard labour.

Benjamin Inana was also guilty of obtaining $6,900 US dollars worth of gift items and was sentenced to10 years. On count 5, the second, third and fourth accused were found guilty of attempting to collect the sum of $1,534,000 US dollars from Mrs. Springer-Beck and were sentenced to10 years each.

Additionally, the first, second and fourth accused were each sentenced to 7 years for fraudulent invitation while the first accused, Bright Ezekusi, is to face another five years imprisonment for using his premises at No. 7A Type "D" LKSDPC Isolo for the purpose of Advance Fee Fraud. All sentences are to run concurrently.

The Tribunal chairman further ordered that Bright Ezekusi, the principal accused, pay restitution of $50,000 and $285,000 US dollars fraudulently obtained from the victims through the police.

Failure to comply, said the judge, and all his assets, moveable and immovable, should be auctioned and the proceeds paid to the complainant or their representative, while the balance is to be paid to the Government of Nigeria through the Accountant General of the Federation.

Immediately after the judgment, the German lady, Mrs. Springer-Beck, jumped with joy and expressed appreciation to the Nigeria Police for bringing the culprits to justice.

Mrs. Springer-Beck is one of the few expatriate victims who have cooperated fully with the Nigerian Police in their investigations thus leading to the first ever conviction of a 419 case in a Nigerian court.

In 1997, in the US alone there were some 500 convictions of those who illegally benefited from 419 and in the UK 111 convictions were reported in 1995.

FEB 1998 UK - National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that in an effort to combat rising West African gang-related crime in the UK, the NCIS set up the West African Organized Crime Section to pool intelligence from police, customs, Interpol, and other agencies.

April 99 - In 1993, Hilary Okey Amadi, aka Mustafa Bello, 45, posing as a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, contacted an apparel firm, Catouche International Corporation, who were owed $35 million by the Nigerian government for uniforms, shoes, and accessories. He allegedly promised to help a company director collect on the debt in exchange for fees of $350,000 paid upfront.

In 1994, the same victim met in Cameroon with several people who had identified themselves as Nigerian government officials and had showed him currency covered with black powder. They said they would give the man the money if he first paid for chemicals to clean it.

He told investigators that he eventually paid about $1.8 million.

After he complained to authorities, investigators staked out a print shop, Acme Employment Agency, from which Amadi allegedly faxed the victim, then charged him with federal wire fraud stemming from his involvement in an advanced fee fraud scheme.

04/02 - Police discovered a box of 419 letters and international phone directories with the fax numbers and e-mail addresses of large international firms during a raid on the Coronian Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The police also found 14 fax machines, 14 Telkom phones, telephone directories and reams of paper in the hotel rooms. Some of the letters were already in addressed, stamped envelopes - ready for mailing.

Washington, D.C. - In 1997, four Nigerians pleaded guilty in federal court in Greenbelt to posing as Nigerian banking officials and setting up accounts in the Laurel area and elsewhere, authorities said. They conned people from around the world, including California, France and China, out of at least $5 million. The four received prison sentences ranging from 30 to 48 months.

Sweet Justice

A busy Arlington defense attorney, Robert Stanley Powell, has surrendered his license to practice law after the state bar filed disciplinary charges alleging he embezzled more than $250,000 from a jailed client, the Virginia State Bar announced.

The saga started in 1995, when Henry Achiekwelu, a British citizen who was born in Nigeria, and two other men were caught posing as officials of the Nigerian government and conning Northern Virginia businessmen out of $4.4 million.

Achiekwelu hired Powell, a former federal prosecutor, to be his attorney, paying him a $35,000 retainer. In July of that year, Achiekwelu's wife, Nora, wired Powell $250,000 and gave him her husband's Rolex watch and $5,000 in traveler's checks.

Although bank records ultimately showed that Powell emptied the account with checks made out to himself, his office and other businesses, officials believed him over the longtime Nigerian scammer and dismissed his earlier complaints as unfounded.

In 1998, this resulted in a federal judge tacking an additional year onto Achiekwelu's 51-month sentence, saying the defendant had violated his supervised release by failing to pay $600,000 in restitution and a $15,000 fine promptly.

02/02 - Following the arrest of two fraud rings the Lagos State Police Command, through the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, said the suspects, Kenneth Obi and Chetachi Anosike approached one lady with details of an executed contract for which she was awaiting payment by the State Government, telling her that they had the right connections to influence early payment of her outstanding contract sum. She subsequently paid N2.5 million to the suspects.

Thereafter, they requested for additional N3 million from the victim, who sensed fraud and reported to the police whose detectives were detailed to deliver the money and arrest the suspects. Four other victims of the syndicate, being held hostage, were liberated when the two suspects were arrested.

They were said to have confessed to series of other cases of obtaining money under false pretences but pleaded for forgiveness from their numerous victims.

In the same vein, Sunday Adewunmi, Sunday Ogunshola, Olaolu Martins and Mathew Adeyemi, have been arrested. Based in the capital city of Abuja, they have also been operating in Lagos.

These suspects approached their victim and convinced him of their connections at the Lagos ports where they could clear goods for him and had already cleared a consignment of imported electronics.

The syndicate defrauded the victim the sum of N600,000 for the consignment and wanted more money from him before the consignment would be released. It was at this juncture that the victim realised the deal was a scam and had detectives arrest the suspects at a hotel meeting in Ikeja.

05/02 Lagos - Notorious advance fee fraudster, Ademiluyi Elumalu, popularly called Ade Bendel, has reportedly told his friends that he is quitting the unwholesome business for good.

Claiming he is now a changed man and a born-again Christian after attending a church program, the 419 kingpin said he has since been attending services at the church and has been witnessing God's wonders in his life.

"I want to spend the whole of my life with Christ."

He obviously feels that Christ does not reside in the local jail, for last month he failed to appear at the Igbosere Magistrate Court for the criminal charges filed against him.

He and two others, Kayode Charles Tokunbo and Kunle Amuda were accused of conspiring to commit advance fee fraud and fraud-related offences with others now at large, between November 1996 and June 1997.

He was also accused of defrauding one Mr. Yusuf Galadima of the sum of N26,295,000.

Spammer Meets Hacker

A month ago I got an email from Antonio Nzam antonio3\\ Knowing that it was a scam I tried to recover his password writing asdfgh, and I got it. His password is "xcoded." So I changed his password so he would be stopped. He came back as bobmanuelpinto3\\ and now as tayosamsudin3\\

The moron used the same passwords again and again, BUT in the alternate email address used to send the password when you lose it always was okitork\\

I think it is really funny what I did, but after reading your website I cannot believe that people believe in this crap. THERE ARE LOTS OF PEOPLE RESPONDING.


Jose A. Avila 07/28/02

Subject: Online A/C Partnership
Tel - ++ 871 762 127 825
Fax- ++ 871 762 127 823
email- tayosamsudin3\\

I am Tayo Samsudin, Retired Chief Accountant of the Kenya Central Bank. Kenya is a picturesque East African Country...

... a multimillionaire Oil Magnate, Ilic Novko from Bosnia/ Hezegovina opened a time (fixed) deposit A/C... the Kosovo crisis claimed his life and that of his entire family!

... send me your full name so that I can “ESTABLISH”the ONLINE BANK A/C IN YOUR NAME…That way you will be able to personally transfer the money out to any hidden A/C of our Choice, WITHOUT YOU TRAVELING TO ANYWHERE! ALSO, YOU WILL NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS FOR ANY ASPECT OF THE TRANSACTION!

09/26/02 - (Atlanta) The scam began with a letter and an enticing proposition: Help us transfer $27 million in cash from Nigeria to a foreign bank account and get a big cut yourself.

Wayne Zimmerman of Minneapolis jumped at the chance, and a meeting was set up at the Marriott Hotel near Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta on April 18, 2000. The money was even brought into the hotel room.

But there was a hitch, he was told: The U.S. currency was covered with black ink, said to be necessary to smuggle the cash out of Nigeria. No problem, there's a special chemical that washes off the cash, Zimmerman was told.

Onokpite brought in a foot locker filled with black paper cut to the size of dollar bills, then poured a "special" chemical solution into a sink and, using sleight of hand, pulled out two crisp $100 bills, according to the indictment.

He initially handed over $700 to buy the chemicals. But he finally became suspicious when he was asked to put up $70,000 to clean $300,000 more of the money, enough chemicals to supposedly wash all $27 million.

At their next meeting at the Marriott eight days later, Zimmerman arrived with undercover Secret Service agents and gave $35,000 to Kelly Onokpite, a 29-year-old Nigerian living in Atlanta, who was then arrested.

There was no $27 million in cash. It was all a hoax. Onokpite pleaded guilty to his role in the fraud and three other schemes. He will be sentenced Dec. 12. Five other Nigerians are charged in fraud schemes that bilked victims across the country out of more than $540,000. Four are fugitives.

In one scheme, Onokpite and his conspirators tried unsuccessfully to get an Oregon man to pay $33,000 to get 20 percent of a $27.5 million estate of a Nigerian politician. In another scheme, a Michigan couple was defrauded of more than $200,000.

Johannesburg 10/04/02 - Four Nigerians have been arrested, three in South Africa and one in London, after a joint operation between South African police and New Scotland Yard.

SA Police Service spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said the arrests followed the kidnapping of a French national, Olivier Rame (44) shortly after his arrival in South Africa on September 26.

He was lured to South Africa by a Nigerian criminal syndicate operating a 419 letter scam after being induced to pay EUR60 000 (about R600 000) into a London bank account.

When he arrived in Johannesburg he was kidnapped. His captors then contacted his daughter in London and demanded a ransom. She apparently called in the London Metropolitan Police's detectives based at New Scotland Yard who alerted the South African police through Interpol.

A joint operation was launched to rescue Rame and two London detectives arrived in South Africa on Wednesday. The two and commercial crime unit detectives simultaneously raided property in Roodepoort, Randburg and Orange Grove at 4pm on Thursday. New Scotland Yard officers raided a London premises at the same time.

Three Nigerians were arrested in South Africa and one in London. The man arrested in England was believed to be connected to an international syndicate with links in South Africa.

The three arrested in South Africa would appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate's court. Equipment and documents used by 419 fraudsters were also confiscated.

During the raids, Rame was taken to a Kempton Park hotel by his kidnappers and released. He was slightly injured after being assaulted. Police expected to make more arrests soon.

419 fraudsters have also been tied to the human slave trade and international drug smuggling.

10/03/02 - Spanish police say they have smashed a Nigerian-led email fraud believed to have reaped up to 20 million euros.

The civil guard arrested five Nigerians, a British man, a Spanish woman and a minor whose nationality was not disclosed following an investigation into a swindle that duped victims worldwide into paying for access to safety deposit boxes supposedly full of dollars.

Officials said members of the gang found most of their targets in internet chat rooms and email exchanges. Most of the 300-plus victims lived in the United States, Germany, Australia or France.

Gang members billed themselves as working for companies that represented relatives of a prominent African with up to $75 million of dollars stored in safety deposit boxes in Spain.

The Civil Guard said the trick was to get people to hand over money on the pretext of paying off a debt owed to the security company overseeing those boxes. Victims believed they would get 25% of the take once a strong box was opened.

The Civil Guard said the organisation paid to fly some of its victims to Spain, took them to bogus offices in Madrid and showed them trunks full of counterfeit, marked or blackened dollars as an enticement.

03/02 - Two men, both from Nigeria have been sent to prison in Ontario for operating the Nigerian Letter Scam. David Iheukwu was sentenced to 2 years and 10 months, and Samuel Osunkwo received a term of two years and two months. A third man, from England, received a months sentence, which he will serve upon returning to England.

In this case, the victim, a U.S. businessman from Atlanta, lost over $1 million dollars. The three convicted men were ordered to repay about 1/3 of the losses to the victim.

05/08/02 (Boston, MA) A Nigerian foreign national was convicted today in federal court of bank fraud, identification fraud, and laundering of monetary instruments.

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and John O'Hara, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service in New England, announced that AKINOLE ALAWODE, age 26, formerly of Providence, Rhode Island, pleaded guilty to using stolen identities to fraudulently obtain money from local banks.

The prosecutor told the Court that had the case proceeded to trial the Government's evidence would have proven that ALAWODE stole the identities, including the social security numbers, of several individuals.

Then, using the names of victims and their personal information, ALAWODE obtained checks which allowed him to withdraw funds from the victims' account.

In addition, ALAWODE opened investment accounts using other stolen identities and deposited stolen credit card convenience checks into the accounts.

Once the checks cleared, ALAWODE wrote checks that were made payable to another of the stolen identities he was using and deposited them into other accounts where he eventually withdrew the funds in cash or by other means.

Sentencing was scheduled for August 9, 2002. ALAWODE faces up to 30 years' imprisonment, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine on the bank fraud charges.

The identification theft charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The money laundering counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadine Pellegrini, Deputy Chief in Sullivan's Major Crimes Unit.

Three Out of 30,000

LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) -- Three people have been charged in a Nigerian court with defrauding foreigners of over $2 million in a move which authorities said signals the start of a crackdown on a notorious international junk e-mail scam.

The so-called "419" scam, named after the article in the country's criminal code outlawing it, has become so successful that campaigners say it is now the third to fifth largest foreign exchange earner in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation.

Nuhu Ribadu, the Chairman of Nigeria's newly created Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), told Reuters the court cases, which are being prosecuted by the EFCC, are only the beginning of its fight against the scam.

"We are trying to bring all of them to justice... including highly placed members of society," he said. "Some of them are outside the country. We will go after them. We want to see that there is no haven for them anywhere in the world."

Campaigners have for years accused Nigerian authorities of not doing enough to fight the 20-year-old con act, which has advanced from mass-mailing methods to junk e-mail distribution.

The scam swindles hundreds of millions of dollars every year from people across the world, who respond to junk e-mails promising them a share of non-existent fortunes.

The commission has arrested 20 people so far -- including the three already charged -- and investigations are being carried out overseas in cooperation with Interpol, he said.

One of the three charged was Nigerian businessman Fred Ajudua, who was arrested by the EFCC two weeks ago and accused of defrauding a Dutchman of $1.7 million.

"As far as we are concerned he does not know anything about this allegation," said Ajudua's lawyer, Olalekan Ojo.

An investigator from the commission said Ajudua had promised the Dutchman $36 million from Nigeria, which had supposedly been put aside by the aviation ministry after over-invoicing for a contract.

The Dutchman said in an affidavit seen by Reuters that he was asked to pay a series of bribes and fees in order to get the money transferred into his bank account, but the money never arrived.

05/31/03 Reuters

06/20/03 HAMILTON (CP) —A career con man has been convicted for tricking investors out of millions of dollars in an Internet fraud scheme.

Henry Statz, 61, pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud charges in a plot that bilked at least $6-million from about 20 investors who were solicited through e-mail to help "free" a fictitious Nigerian fortune.

Victims were promised a vast fortune in gold, diamonds and property deeds allegedly tucked away in a Toronto vault awaiting a Nigerian man's arrival in Canada. When he arrived, victims were told he would share his wealth with them.

Police said the total losses could be as much as $15-million for victims across North America.

Solicitations from thousands of similar plots litter the inboxes of people all over the world, generally known as Nigerian e-mail scams.

This particular fraud is just the tip of the iceberg, said Hamilton detective Mark Simchison, who investigated the case.

"I truly feel sorry for the victims. They've lost everything. There is no further down to go. They're in the gutter," said Mr. Simchison.

Mr. Statz, who has a history of fraud convictions dating back to the 1960s, is a smooth, convincing and cool con artist, said Mr. Simchison. He lived the high life, spending $100,000 in one month in Toronto hotels and restaurants.

Mr. Statz, an Alberta native, was sentenced to 18 months probation, and was given credit for 10 months he already spent in custody.

Pensioner accused of AUS $5m Nigerian scam

By Drew Cullen 31/10/2003

An Australian man has been charged with defrauding a Saudi prince and others of AUS $5 million in an Internet lottery scam.

The Aussie papers are referring to this as a Nigerian or 419 scam and report that the accused, Nick Marinellis, 39, of Sydney told police: "I have 220 African brothers worldwide. I am the Australian headquarters for those scams."

Marinellis is charged with sending spam emails which conned people into believing that they had won millions of dollars in overseas lotteries, or inheritance, or through a business opportunity.

But before they could collect the money, the victims were required to pay an advance fee to process the payment.

The biggest victim was an unnamed Saudi prince, who coughed up more than $AUS 500,000.

Marinellis lives off a disability pension and is diagnosed as schizophrenic, according to reports.

419 scams are so-called in reference to Article 419 of the Nigerian penal code which forbids fraudulent activity. The 419 scams have been in operation since the early 90s, then in the form of airmail letters from Nigeria. The Internet has massively increased their reach.

The usual come-on is an appeal to the reader's greed, offering a fat commission for processing a huge, illegally gotten sum of money.

The lottery win is a more recent innovation and is a speciality of the 419 gangs in Amsterdam. Dutch police estimate that up to 300 419 fraudsters are operating in the city.

Although Nigerians invented the 419 scam, it looks like the fraud has now gone global.

More on the Nigerian fraud arrest in Sydney, Australia

OCTOBER 30, 2003

A 39-year-old Sydney man was today arrested in relation to a multi-million dollar scam commonly known as "Nigerian fraud".

NSW Police said today's arrest was believed to be the first in the world involving a key Australian figure in Nigerian fraud, which involves sending out numerous letters as email spam.

People are conned into believing they can claim millions of dollars so long as they first send off money for "expenses".

Detectives from the State Crime Command Assets Confiscation Unit (ACU) arrested the man during a search of a property in Nyngan in the state's central west.

They also raided two homes in Cecil Hills and Lurnea, in Sydney's south west, seizing a number of computers and documents.

ACU Commander Jennifer Thommeny today said the ACU had uncovered a Sydney-based international syndicate that had targeted hundreds of victims in Australia and overseas.

Today's arrest by Strike Force Dixies follows a four month investigation into a syndicate carrying out frauds such as lottery scams.

The investigation was triggered by complaints from a Hungarian company and a Canadian citizen, police said.

"West African type frauds such as lottery scams and 'business investment opportunities', have netted millions of dollars from thousands of unwitting victims around the world," Inspector Thommeny said.

"Traditionally police have found it difficult to apprehend offenders who carry out these frauds because victims usually live overseas and in most cases are too embarrassed to come forward."

"We have identified victims who have been approached in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, Cyprus, Malaysia, Japan, Norway, Greece, Indonesia, Hong Kong and England and in many cases have been conned into handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The man arrested this morning is yet to be charged.