Nigerian Busts in 2004 for Advance Fee Fraud Scams
Don't Bank On It
Accra, Ghana - 01/15/04, GNA - An Accra Circuit Court on Thursday for the second time remanded in custody two Nigerians, who are accused of possessing forged Bank of Ghana Forms.
Mr Frank Eleazer Chakwude Ahumibe, a Businessman and Innocent Emeka Okoye, a Trader, have been charged with conspiracy and possessing forged documents.
The court chaired by Mr Emmanuel Ankarah, did not take their plea and they are to reappear on January 29.
The facts, as presented by Police Inspector Bennett Sarfo are that on July 9, 2003, Mr D.J. Moriss, a Business Consultant in the United Kingdom, received a letter on the Bank of Ghana headed form indicating that he had a sealed box containing precious item which had been lodged with the Bank.
Prosecution said the complainant who had not deposited anything with the Bank got alarmed and realised that it could be Advance Free Fraud (419) activists.
Inspector Sarfo said the complainant wrote to alert the Bank, which subsequently lodged a formal complaint with the Police.
He said on January 9, 2004, the Police received information about some people photocopying Bank of Ghana forms at a spot.
"On arrival at the scene the Police arrested the two suspects but they denied the offence", he said.
The Prosecutor said a search was conducted on the premise of the suspects and a Bank of Ghana International Remittance form, Bank of Ghana Exchange form, Bank of Ghana Foreign Transfers Corporate form, Bank of Ghana Application form for opening a foreign Transfer Corporation account were found with the first suspect, who lived with the second suspect in the same house.
52 Nigerian Scammers Arrested in Amsterdam - Dutch article
Dutch police arrest 52 email scammers
By Jan Libbenga - 29/01/2004
Dutch police have arrested 52 Nigerian email scammers at 23 locations in Amsterdam in what is believed to be the biggest raid of its kind. Several PCs, mobile phones, false documents and € 50,000 in cash were confiscated.
Dutch police believes the criminals sent 100,000 messages to victims in Japan and the USA. More arrests may follow.
The raid is remarkable not just for its size. For the first time Dutch police confirmed close ties between Nigerian email scammers and drug smugglers from the Dutch Antilles.
Drugs traffickers from Latin America have been using the Caribbean island group as a transit point from Colombia. Up to 25,000 drugs smugglers are believed to take this transatlantic route every year.
They are known as bolletjesslikkers (capsule swallowers) as they swallow tiny drug capsules to hide the drugs from customs at Amsterdam Airport.
Many drugs and legal experts have urged police to focus on drug lords rather than arrest the petty criminals who smuggle the drugs. Those drug lords may well be Nigerians and Colombians, Dutch police now say.
Money taken from victims in e mail scams is used to finance narcotics smuggling, the Unusual Transactions Reporting Centre of the Netherlands believes. In 2001 alone more than 900 Nigerians applied for a Dutch visa from the Antilles.
Wednesday’s crackdown dealt a heavy blow to advance fee fraud in the Netherlands. Last year a Dutch court sentenced five African email swindlers to between 300 days and 4.5 years, after a Swiss lecturer forked over 482,000 dollars on the promise of a $9 million return. The 52 people arrested Wednesday could face similar sentences.
Now that Amsterdam is no longer a safe haven for Nigerian scammers, experts believe they may pack up their bags and head out elsewhere. The Reg already noticed some changes in the daily floods of congratulatory letters enticing consumers to buy chances in high-stakes lotteries.
Until recently, most of these letters originated from Amsterdam. These days most letters are sent through Telefonica from Madrid, Spain.
$242m Scam: Suspects Arraigned, Deny 86-Count Charge
Lillian Okenwa, Abuja - allafrica.com 02/06/04
The trial of five Nigerians alleged to have defrauded a Brazilian businessman of the sum of $242m began yesterday at a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, but the suspects pleaded not guilty to the 86-count-charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Those arraigned in court yesterday in the case described as the "single biggest advanced fee fraud case in the whole world" included Chief Emmanuel Nwude (a.k.a Tossman, Paul Ogwuma Odinigwe), Mrs. Amaka Martina Anajemba (a.k.a Mrs. Rasheed Gonwalk, Rossy Ford, Olisa Agbakoba), Emmanuel Ofule, Mr. Nzeribe Edeh Okoli, and Barrister Obum Osakwe.
The four corporate institutions alleged to be involved in the scam include Fynbaz (Nig.) Ltd., Emrus (Nig.) Ltd., Ocean Marketing Co. (Nig.) Ltd. and African Shelter Bureau (Nig.) Ltd.
Ofule, one time Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Lagos branch and Nwude were also separately arrainged on a 7-count charge for trying to bribe the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu.
Also, Mrs. Ana Ejemba and Osakwe were again arraigned on a different eight -count charge for agreeing to give the sum of $10,000 to Mallam Ibrahim Lamorde, Officer in-Charge of Operations at EFCC for the purpose of influencing their acquittal in the alleged fraud.
Shortly after the 86-count-charge were read out to the five suspects and their pleas taken, counsel to Mrs. Anajemba, Chief Chris Uche made an oral application for bail for his client.
He said the position of the law was that once charges have been read and pleas taken, counsel could bring oral application for bail.
But the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs opposed the application, arguing that what was required was written, and not oral application.
The trial judge, however, adjourned further arguments on bail application till February 11, 2004 and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in Kuje Prisons. Jacobs however pleaded that the accused persons be handed over to the EFCC, which is still continuing investigations on them. The application was granted.
At a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the Executive Chairman, EFCC, Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu had said the five Nigerians allegedly duped one Nelson Sakaguchi, a Brazilian and director in Banco Noereste Brazil of $242 million, in the biggest money scam ever, sometime in September 2001.
Sakaguchi who was then on a business trip to Nigeria, was introduced to the Nigerian suspects, by his friend Dr. Hakim Ukeh, an Enugu-based businessman in 1994. Two of the suspects claimed that they control the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Nwude, a major shareholder at Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, posed as Mr. Paul Ogwuma, the then Governor of the CBN, while Amaka's husband, Ikechukwu Anajemba posed as Alhaji Mahey Rasheed, who was the CBN Deputy Governor in charge of foreign operations in 1995.
The unsuspecting Brazilian was deceived into believing that the suspects won a contract in Nigeria and was asked to send money to facilitate the supposed contract. Sakaguchi began to send money to designated accounts controlled by Nwude and others.
When the phantom contract was said to have been completed and payment was not forthcoming, the fraudsters devised another method to further milk Sakaguchi. The suspects swindled the Brazilian businessman in eight installments.
In the first instalment $1.2 million was paid into an account in Crystal Bank of Africa on August 9, 1995 with O.E. Nwude, who represented Stanton, as beneficiary while $1.5 million was paid to the Commercial Trust Bank with FynBaz Nigeria Ltd as beneficiary on August 25, 1995, in the second payment.
On August 31, 1995, $500,000 was paid with Nwude Christian Kachi as beneficiary, and again on September 27, 1995 the sum of $2.55 million was paid to UWS Landmark as beneficiary.
Other payments made included the sum of $2 million into an account of Gulf Bank of Nigeria which has Fynbaz as beneficiary on December 8, 1995. Also, Intercontinental Merchant Bank received a payment of $2 million on February 12, 1996 and $1.3 million was paid into the account of Stanton Development Corporation On 1 January 1996 and 28 October 1997.
The last payment of $4.75 million was made to Pentagon Co. Ltd. and another $1.35 million was paid through an account in Nigeria Intercontinental Merchant Bank Ltd., to Emrus Nigeria Limited
Some of the charges preffered against the five suspects read:
That you Emmanuel Nwude (M) (a.k.a Tossman, Paul Ogwuma Odinigwe); Amaka Martina Anajemba (F) (a.k.a Mrs. Rasheed Gonwalk, Rossy Ford, Olisa Agbakoba), Mr. Nzeribe Edeh Okoli (M) (a.k.a PLC Dankwa), Fynbaz (Nig.) Ltd., Emrus (Nig.) Ltd., Ocean Marketing Co. (Nig.) Ltd., African Shelter Bureau (Nig.) Ltd and Christian Anajemba (a.k.a Y. Rasheed Gonwalk now deceased) between the 2nd of April, 1995 and 20th of January, 1998 at Abuja conspired to commit an offence to wit:
Obtaining the sum of $190,294,401.1(one hundred and ninety million, two hundred and ninety four thousand, four hundred and one dollars, one cent) by false pretence from one Nelson Sakaguchi and Stanton Development Corporation which money belonged to Banco Noroeste S.A of Sao Paulo Brazil contrary to section 8(a) and punishable under section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Decree No. 13 of the 1995 as amended by Decree 62 of 1999.
That you Emmanuel Nwude (M) (a.k.a Tossman, Paul Ogwuma Odinigwe); Amaka Martina Anajemba (F) (a.k.a Mrs. Rasheed Gonwalk, Rossy Ford, Olisa Agbakoba), Mr. Nzeribe Edeh Okoli (M) (a.k.a PLC Dankwa), Fynbaz (Nig.) Ltd., Emrus (Nig.) Ltd., Ocean Marketing Co. (Nig.) Ltd., African Shelter Bureau (Nig.) Ltd and Christian Anajemba (a.k.a Y. Rasheed Gonwalk now deceased) between the 2nd of April, 1995 and 20th of January, 1998 at Abuja by false pretence and with intent to defraud obtained the sum of $190,294,401.1(one hundred and ninety million, two hundred and ninety four thousand, four hundred and one dollars, one cent) by false pretence from one Nelson Sakaguchi and Stanton Development Corporation which money belonged to Banco Noroeste S.A of Sao Paulo Brazil purporting same to represent payment due to the Federal Government of Nigeria on the alleged contract No. FMA/132/019/82 for the construction of Abuja International Airport, Nigeria contrary to Section 1(1) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Decree No. 13 of 1995 as amended by Decree No. 62 of 1998.
That you Emmanuel Nwude (M) (a.k.a Tossman, Paul Ogwuma Odinigwe); Amaka Martina Anajemba (F) (a.k.a Mrs. Rasheed Gonwalk, Rossy Ford, Olisa Agbakoba), Mr. Nzeribe Edeh Okoli (M) and Ocean Marketing Co. (Nig.) Ltd., on or about 25th May, 1995 at Abuja by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained the total sum of $750,000.31 (Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars and thirty one cent) from Stanton Development Corporation, the property of Banco Noroeste S.A of Sao Paulo, Brazil purporting same to be payment for "Mandatory Fluctuations marginal Charges" allegedly due to the Federal Government of Nigeria as stipulated on the contract No. FMA/132/019/82 for the construction of Abuja International Airport, Nigeria contrary to Section 1(1) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Decree No. 13 of 1995 as amended by Decree No. 62 of the 1999.
That you Emmanuel Nwude (M) (a.k.a Tossman, Paul Ogwuma Odinigwe); Amaka Martina Anajemba (F) (a.k.a Mrs. Rasheed Gonwalk, Rossy Ford, Olisa Agbakoba), Mr. Nzeribe Edeh Okoli (M) and African Shelter Bureau (Nig.) Ltd., on or about 17th July, 1995 at Abuja by false pretence and with intent to defraud, obtained the total sum of $1,500,000.00 (one million five hundred thousand United States Dollars) from one Nelson Sakaguchi and Stanton Development Corporation, the property of Banco Noroeste S.A of Sao Paulo, Brazil purporting same to represent taxes due to the Federal Government of Nigeria on the purported contract No. FMA/132/019/82 for the construction of Abuja International Airport, amongst other charges.
More on the Major Bust
02/05/04 - Five alleged perpetrators of the world's biggest advance-fee fraud scam were taken before a Nigerian High Court on Thursday charged with 86 counts of duping a Brazilian bank out of $242-million.
All five defendants pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the 2001 plot in which a Brazilian bank collapsed after huge sums were siphoned into foreign accounts by an employee who had been duped by the Nigeria-based gang.
Emmanuel Nwude, former director of Union Bank, a top-rated bank in Nigeria, led the accused, who all pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution alleged Nwude and two accomplices swindled the Brazilian bank while claiming to have won a contract for the construction of Nigeria's international airport in Abuja.
The two other accused were lawyers who allegedly attempted to bribe the chairperson of Nigeria's anti-crime agency, Nuhu Ribadu, to effect the release of the first three.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which Ribadu heads, was set up by the Nigerian government to fight advance-fee fraud and other economic crimes in the country.
The three alleged perpetrators, the prosecution said, received the money from the bank at various times claiming they were to be paid to some Nigerian agencies to effect contract payment.
The five were ordered to be remanded in the custody of the EFCC until February 11, when the case would come up for mention at the court.
Nigeria's image had been dragged through mud over the years by fraudsters who violate Section 419 of the penal code, by duping unsuspecting nationals and expatriates out of huge sums of money.
Advance-fee fraud is also known in local parlance as "419", a reference to the section of Nigeria's penal code relating to the crime.
In committing the crime, fraudsters pose as having very strong contacts in government circles, capable of influencing the award of contracts to victims provided the latter pay fees into a dedicated account dictated by the criminals. -- Sapa-DPA
This month, five Nigerians have gone on trial in Nigeria's high court for taking part in what prosecutors say is the world's largest 419 scam.
The defendants, including a housewife, a lawyer, and a well-known businessman, are charged with tricking a Brazilian bank employee into paying $242 million of his bank's money to build a fictitious airport in Nigeria by promising him a commission of $13 million.
For Nigeria, more than a group of con artists is on trial. Unofficially, so is the country's reputation.
The widespread 419 scam has helped seal the West African country's image as one of the most corrupt places on earth.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, elected in 1999 after 16 years of corrupt military rule, pledged to tackle the international fraud rings and clean up government graft that thrived during the lawless years of military dictatorships.
"We will wage war against those who systematically destroy our economy," Obasanjo told the National Assembly last year. "There will be no hiding place for these criminals who tarnish Nigeria's image."
Obasanjo's main weapon in this fight is an organization called the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which he launched last year to battle 419 scams, along with money laundering, drug trafficking, credit card fraud, bribery, smuggling, tax evasion, counterfeiting, and intellectual property theft.
In the first year, the commission has arrested about 200 suspected criminals, including dozens of 419 kingpins, frozen their bank accounts, and seized more than $100 million in cars, homes, cash, and other assets. Among those arrested was a member of the National Assembly.
The commission made a point to shackle the suspects in handcuffs and parade them in front of the television cameras.
"It was a massive, huge thing to do," said Nuhu Ribadu, executive director of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. "We don't have a culture of bringing people to justice, especially the rich and powerful."
Since the 419 scam started in the early 1980s, its perpetrators have been worshiped as national heroes. They flaunted their wealth, their mammoth homes, their luxury cars, their European villas, and their apparent immunity from the law.
"We were lost in a jungle," Ribadu said of those years. "You could do whatever you wanted, and nothing would happen."
Despite the high-profile arrests, the commission has yet to win a conviction in a case against 419 kingpins, Ribadu said, which makes the current case quite important.
HOUSTON (AP) 02/06/04 — A federal jury in Houston Thursday found a Nigerian man guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud for an e-mail scam.
Investigators said the scheme involved requests to help getting a box — allegedly containing $22 million — through U.S. Customs.
Victims of the scam were told a box containing the money had arrived at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport — and if they would claim the box, they'd get 15 percent of the cash.
Prosecutors say once a person agreed, the defendant, 43-year-old Ambrose Kizito Agwuibe, would say money was needed up front to cover shipping, handling and other costs.
Money was wired to Agwuibe and another man, Patrick Omu, from across the nation.
Omu pleaded guilty in September. Both will be sentenced later this year.
Authorities learned of the scam from a Western Union employee.
Federal jury in Houston convicts Nigerian of conspiracy and 13 counts of wire fraud.
Ambrose Kizito Agwuibe is also in the country illegally.
The 43-year old was on trial for almost three days on charges he defrauded Americans by sending them e-mails in which he claimed he needed help getting a box containing $22 million dollars through U.S. Customs.
The scheme involved telling victims they could get 15 percent of the money if they would take procession of the box and pay for shipping costs, handling fees and other expenses.
In all, United States Attorney Michael Shelby says victims all over the country were cheated out of more than $400,000.
A co-conspirator, Patrick Omu, pled guilty in September 2003 for his part in the e-mail scheme and will be sentenced on May 7, 2004.
Both men face a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy and 20 years in prison for each wire fraud conviction.
Judge David Hittner will sentence Ambrose Kizito Agwuibe on April 30.
Man indicted in Nigerian scam
By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
02/06/04 - In December, British Customs agents at London's Heathrow Airport intercepted a package of pre-addressed envelopes containing $226,000 worth of phony cashier's checks shipped from Nigeria and bound for "Ken Smith" in North Versailles.
The intercept was part of "Operation Tidalwave," an international crackdown on Nigerian con artists who have been ripping off Americans for 20 years using versions of the "Nigerian 419" or "advance fee" scam. The number comes from a section of the Nigerian penal code.
Ken Smith, it turns out, was really Adebayo Adedimila, 29, an American citizen holding a Nigerian passport.
Agents arrested him last month, and Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted him on mail fraud charges in connection with a counterfeit check scheme that represents the latest mutation of the 419.
"A similar Nigerian scheme has been operating since the early 1980s and originally used unsolicited letters and faxes sent to businesses," said U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan in a statement. "
However, with the increasing popularity of e-mail and the expansion of the Internet, variations on the fraud have become increasingly creative and virtually endless."
Buchanan highlighted the case as part of National Consumer Protection Awareness Week, which started Monday.
The Adedimila arrest is the latest in a new wave of enforcement targeting Nigerian scam artists both in Nigeria and in the Western nations from which they draw their victims.
The U.S. Secret Service has made some 250 arrests in Nigeria in recent years. Last month, Dutch police rounded up 52 suspects in Amsterdam, accusing them of pulling a version of the 419 in which scam artists send spam e-mails asking for help in transferring millions of dollars from an African nation in exchange for a percentage.
The Adedimila case involves a newer scheme using Internet auction sites such as eBay to entice the gullible into parting with a few thousand dollars.
Typically, a Nigerian will contact a seller and say he has a "friend" in the United States who owes him money. He says the friend will send the seller a cashier's check to cover the cost of the item being sold. But the check is for more than the item is worth.
The Nigerian ships the phony cashier's check to a cohort in the United States -- Adedimila's role, federal agents say -- who sends it to the unsuspecting seller through the U.S. mail.
Finally, the buyer asks the seller to send back the extra money by Western Union wire.
"Often, the sellers act as requested and wire the additional funds prior to the cashier's check being returned as counterfeit to the seller's bank," said Postal Inspector Joseph Bell, in a search warrant affidavit for Adedimila's apartment. "This scheme has affected thousands of victims across the United States and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars."
In Adedimila's case, someone identifying himself as "David Nelson" sent e-mails to the sellers saying he wanted to buy.
Nelson then told them that he had a client -- "Ken Smith" -- in the United States who owed him money and would send the seller a cashier's check. He said the amount of the check would be more than the cost of the item. Nelson told the sellers to cash the check and wire the excess funds to a destination he chose.
After negotiating this deal with 20 potential victims, Nelson shipped the checks in the name of "Ken Smith" to Adedimila's apartment. After Customs intercepted the package, U.S. postal inspectors set up a sting in which one of them posed as a United Parcel Service deliveryman.
Adedimila was arrested Jan. 2 at his apartment in North Versailles.
On Jan. 8, a second package of pre-addressed envelopes and counterfeit checks arrived at the apartment from Nigeria, but by that time Adedimila had been arraigned and released to a friend in Turtle Creek.
Prosecutors won't say if they have identified or arrested "David Nelson" in Nigeria.
Nigerian Crude Oil Supply Scam
AllAfrica.com - Adewale Busari - Lagos
02/04- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday arraigned two advance fee fraudsters at the Ikeja High Court for duping an American-based Nigerian, Maureen Nwagwu of $48,000 (N7.08m).
The fraudsters, Mustapha Olowe and Aluko Abiodun were said to have duped Nwagwu and a firm, Havard Investment and Resources on the pretext of supplying them 1.75 million barrels of crude oil.
The EFCC, in charge number ID/110E/2003, alleged that the accused persons committed the offence on 15 March, 2003, at Isolo, contrary to the provisions of Section 8 (A) and 13 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other-Related Offences Act 13 of 1995 as ammended by Act 62 of 1999.
Nigerian man is convicted on identity-theft charges
02/04 - Texas - A Nigerian man who fled from the federal courthouse during his trial on identity-theft charges was convicted in absentia Thursday on five of the six counts, the U.S. attorney's office reported.
Prince Christian Okolie, 32, of Dallas left the courthouse Wednesday on the second day of his trial, after telling his attorney that he had to make a phone call. U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis issued an arrest warrant for Okolie and told jurors that federal criminal procedure permits a trial to proceed when a defendant chooses to be absent from trial, according to a news release.
The jury found Okolie guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and three counts of possession of a forged or counterfeit security of an organization.
He faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, a $1.25 million fine and restitution. No sentencing date has been set because Okolie is not in custody.
According to trial testimony, Okolie used forged identification documents to open bank accounts in Dallas and an online account with Fidelity Investments.
03/04 - Finland - Criminal organisations based in West Africa are believed to have attempted to defraud Finnish financial institutions over the past few years using bad cheques. The same groups are believed to be behind a number of cases of credit card fraud.
If all of the attempts had succeeded, the gangs would have got hundreds of thousands of euros. However, only a few of the forged cheques were ever successfully cashed.
The Helsinki Criminal Police have investigated a number of cases of suspected fraud, two of which involve ordinary cheques, one using travellers' cheques, and one in which credit cards were used. They all seem to be linked with the same criminal organisation.
In one of the cheque fraud cases the preliminary investigation is completed, and the investigation is still in progress with the others. Several people have been remanded in custody.
International police organisations say that West African Criminal Networks (WACN) have been expanding their operations in recent years.
In addition to cheque and credit card fraud, the WACN are believed to be behind the infamous Nigerian e-mail scam, in which e-mail is sent out offering massive commissions in return for help in getting large sums out of Nigeria or other countries.
The groups have also been implicated in other types of fraud, as well as drug trafficking, human smuggling, and trade in stolen cars.
Among the suspects detained in Finland are a number of men who were convicted of similar types of activities in the mid-1990s.
Police first learned of the new series of cheque frauds in 2000, and the investigation made new headway in 2002 when a number of Finnish-born women began trying to cash similar cheques at Finnish banks.
The cheques were from well-known international banks, such as the French Credit Lyonnais. Originally they were written for fairly small sums of money, but later much larger amounts were written in.
The largest was for EUR 80,000.
The main figure in the cheque fraud case, Congolese Makiese Diasonama, was sentenced to two years and four months in prison for numerous cases of forgery and fraud.
A warrant was issued for Diasonama's boss, who goes under the name of Myumia Eza, which officials suspect is not his real name. He was arrested last month when he arrived in Hanko by boat from Rostock.
"Eza" is not in Finland for the first time. He has a Congolese wife and a couple of children living in the Helsinki area, and another family in Northern Finland.
While looking for "Eza", Finnish police began receiving information about attempts at exchanging forged American Express travellers' cheques worth GBP 500 each at Forex currency exchange offices.
The most successful was a man by the name of Alessandro de Sando who managed to get nearly EUR 40,000 from Sampo Bank.
The travellers' cheque case began to unravel last month when a man bought a number of cheques worth GBP 20 each, and wanted to sign them with a pencil. The bank called the police.
The man was carrying a forged Belgian passport with the name Michael Idehen. He is now in custody.
On the previous day a Finnish man believed to have been working with "Idehen" had tried to cash GBP 11,000 worth of travellers' cheques, which had originally been bought in Kenya and reported stolen there. They were of the same series as the cheques used by "Alessandro de Sando".
When his passport was shown to be a forgery, the approximately 30-year-old "Idehen" applied for political asylum in Finland as a Nigerian under the name of Joe Ide.
Officials say that the same man had applied for asylum in Salo in the summer of 2003 identifying himself as Georg Uzona, a Nigerian businessman. He is known to have had other aliases in other countries.
"Idehen" and his partners are suspected in Norway of using forged travellers' cheques to get 1.5 million Norwegian krona, or about 170,000 euros.
In Norway he has a wife born in 1947, and in Finland he has a girlfriend who is pregnant.
A fourth case involving the same series of events concerns a number of cases of credit card frauds. Suspects include several of those implicated in the cheque fraud case.
The credit cards are stolen, or are forged by copying the information on the magnetic strips of the genuine article onto empty cards. Police say they have found large bags full of blank cards used in the frauds.
The cards are used to buy goods for such small amounts that the buyers do not need to prove their identity. The goods are then sold, and much of the loot is sent to Belgium.
The suspects have not been left empty-handed though: the men were found to have shoes worth hundreds of euros a pair.
03/04 UK - A CONMAN who fleeced victims around the world in an internet scam was behind bars last night.
Nigerian Peter Okoeguale, 33, promised massive payouts in return for an up-front fee.
Cops caught him in Wales with computer software capable of emailing thousands of addresses.
Okoeguale admitted going equipped for fraud. He was remanded by Caernarfon Crown Court for sentencing next month.
Nigerian Jailed for International E-Mail Scam
By Matt Laddin, PA News
04/02/04 - A Nigerian man was jailed today for his part in an international e-mail fraud which conned victims out of thousands of pounds.
Peter Ewalefoh Okoeguale, 33, was sentenced to 20 months at Caernarfon Crown Court after pleading guilty to offences under the Theft and Terrorism Act.
Okoeguale was arrested at Holyhead Port, in north Wales, last September after routine checks uncovered computer discs containing forged documents.
Detectives from North Wales police discovered that Okoeguale was taking part in what is known as the ’Nigerian 419 Scam’.
Victims are sent an e-mail promising them a share of cash if they help move millions of dollars out of Nigeria.
But, according to police, victims end up losing money when they hand over cash to free the money from the African country.
Judge John Rogers recommended the 33-year-old be deported after he served his sentence, adding that he was “involved in international fraud and was in possession of carefully crafted fraudulent documents to fool gullible people.”
A spokeswoman for North Wales police said that discs found on Okoeguale contained thousands of e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of companies and individuals from Scotland, the USA, the Middle East, and the Far East.
Using the documents officers traced 11 victims, including one in Scotland who lost up to £20,000, and a retired 72-year-old American businessman who lost 46,500 dollars.
Detective Constable Dave Morris, from the North Wales Police fraud squad, said: “The internet has made it much easier for individuals to operate."
“The ease with which e-mail addresses can be obtained and used for illegal purposes has increased the chances of innocent people being subjected to this offence."
He added: “We would urge the public to delete any communications, whether it be e-mail or fax, they may receive purporting to come from Nigerian Government Ministers or other organisations offering large sums of money.”
A woman has been charged in connection with a fraud scheme that cost a bank in Brevard County, Fla, approximately $60,000.
Linda Francie VanGinderachter, 37, of Summer Place in Merritt Island was charged with scheming to defraud and grand theft, clerk of courts records show.
VanGinderachter was arrested at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday by Brevard sheriff's agent Tim Anlicker, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.
Sheriff's deputies were contacted after officials from Bank of America discovered the suspected fraud, said sheriff's spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez.
According to Martinez: on March 14 and March 20, VanGinderachter deposited two checks- $32,500 and $35,500 respectively - into her Bank of America account, which she opened in Merritt Island.
She then withdrew the money prior to the checks being returned as counterfeit. The money was wire transferred out of the country.
Bank of America incurred a financial lose of approximately $60,000 from this incident, Martinez said.
A hold has been placed on VanGinderachter while the U.S. Border Patrol reviews her passport and status in the United States, Martinez said.
Martinez said that through interviews and consent searches, it was discovered that VanGinderachter was a part of other scams, such as pyramid schemes and Nigerian fraud.
Chain letters, Nigerian scam letters and mailing list were discovered in her apartment, Martinez said. In addition, agents recovered numerous e-mails with regards to the Nigerian scam.
Several wire transfer receipts were discovered that indicate that the money was sent to both Spain and Nigeria, Martinez said.
"No victims of these incidents have been discovered at this time," Martinez said.
Martinez said VanGinderachter did not have a work Visa for the United States, but was financially able to acquire an apartment and vehicle. She claims to be a translator, an attorney in Europe and a realtor in Florida.
"We have not been able to establish that VanGinderachter had a legitimate source of income," Martinez said. "It does appear that she was laundering money to individuals outside of the United States."
Nigerian sent to prison in fraud scheme
By LORNA THACKERAY - Of The Billings Gazette Staff
06/11/04 - Wyoming - Nigerian schemes aimed at bilking Americans of the contents of their bank accounts appear to have become a national pastime.
They get more sophisticated and harder to keep up with all the time, said Bill Mercer, Montana's U.S. attorney. Catching perpetrators gets trickier, too.
That's why Mercer was so pleased to announce this week that a Nigerian national who used the identities of three Billings residents to steal more than $150,000 from a local bank, will spend the next three years in a federal prison.
Michael Ajayi was also ordered late last month in Chicago to pay $585,750 in restitution for money stolen in Billings and elsewhere. Mercer said that Ajayi, who pleaded guilty to money laundering, has also been notified that the government will seek to deport him once his sentence is served.
The U.S. attorney said Ajayi and others had been scamming money from credit-card companies and financial institutions since April 1998 using addresses in Chicago and New York.
Ajayi applied for state identification cards and drivers' licenses using aliases, then used those identities to open bank and investment accounts. He rented houses and post-office boxes where he could receive bank statements, checks and ATM cards, Mercer said.
Ajayi forged checks and transferred money from other people's credit-card accounts into accounts he had set up under his aliases.
US Bank raid
Mercer said Ajayi began his raids on US Bank in Billings between May and July 2002. He contacted the bank here and changed the address on accounts held by a Billings man and a Billings couple. He ordered checks on the two accounts and had them sent to an address in New York. Both accounts had lines of credit that he could use.
Ajayi forged a total of six checks, $60,000 against one account and $97,400 against the other. He deposited the checks in a fraudulent account in Chicago that he had acquired under the name of David O. Williams. Then he withdrew the cash.
"The scams continue to morph," Mercer said. "It's a huge challenge to keep up."
One of the latest schemes involves fake cashier's checks drawn on non-existent financial institutions, he said. But, as banks become more cautious about cashing those checks, someone will be dreaming up a new angle.
E-mails still arrive offering easy riches in exchange for use of personal information in transferring staggering sums out of Africa, and people are still falling for them, Mercer said.
He said it puzzles him why anyone would believe that someone they have never heard of before would offer them millions of dollars for doing practically nothing. Once those account numbers are delivered, everything in those accounts quickly disappears, he said.
"I'll say it again and again - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Mercer said.
The elderly seem especially vulnerable to these schemes. Sweepstakes are a popular fraud, he said. The victim is notified that he's won a huge sum, often in a foreign lottery, but he has to pay the taxes before the windfall can be collected, Mercer said.
FBI in Nigeria bust Reshipping Scam ring - excellent article