Nigerian Black Cash Scam
Black Coated Money Scam Con Artist Apprehended
06/08 - MILFORD, Conn. -- A cab driver tipped Milford police off to a man they said was running a money fraud operation known as “magic money” or “wish, wash.”
This scheme involves convincing the victim that a suitcase or trunk is full of actual money, however, all the notes are black and the victim is told that they were coated to smuggle them out of Nigeria or other countries. The victim is asked to buy a special cleaning solution costing between $20,000 and $500,000 to return the notes to their original, usable state. The bills are actually black construction paper, police said.
The cab driver called police Wednesday morning to report a theft of service and provided the room number of the Red Roof Inn, where he said the man was staying.
When a police officer went to the room and knocked on the door, he saw a man wearing a surgical mask look out the window and close the curtains, police said. The officer continued to knock on the door and identified himself as a police officer.
When the man, later identified as Samuel Asare, 34, opened the door, he was covered in white powder, police said.
As the officer asked Asare about the cab fare, he noticed that the motel room and a table were covered in a white powder and smelled a strong chemical odor, police said. The officer also saw several containers with unknown liquids inside.
Asare told police he was mixing the chemicals to use as ceiling patch, police said.
Police called the Milford Fire Department and the state Department of Environmental Protection and a hazmat crew checked the room. The powder was identified as talcum powder and the chemicals in the containers were deemed not hazardous unless mixed together.
In the room, DEP officials saw tin foil bricks containing U.S. currency mixed with black construction paper cut to the same size as the currency, police said.
Asare said they were not his, police said.
He presented a false Georgia driver’s license, but later gave his real name and said he was an illegal alien from Africa, police said.
Authorities determined that Asare is involved in a money fraud scheme commonly referred to as “magic money” or “wish, wash.”
Asare was charged with second-degree forgery, criminal impersonation and interfering. His bond was set at $500,000 and he is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
Police are asking anyone who believes they may have been a victim to call the Milford Police Department Detective Division, 203-877-1465.
Black Cash Scam Run by Nigerian Brothers
05/08 - (Ontario) - Ottawa police are advising the public to look out for a "black money scam," which last month tricked one victim out of about $20,000.
In the scam, the perpetrator persuades the victim that piles of bank note-sized paper are real money that has been dyed black to avoid detection by customs agents. The victim is then convinced to pay cash for special chemicals to wash the money.
Police are looking for two suspects, fraternal twins Victor Onana, 29, who goes by the name "John" or "Jean," and Vincent Onana, who goes by the name "Abdul" or "Stephane."
Anyone with information should call the Ottawa police organized fraud section at 613-236-1222, ext. 5918, or contact Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477.
Scam to Remove Dye from Black Cash Leads to Arrests
11/07 - Two men have been charged after allegedly conspiring to bilk an Ottawa business clerk of more than $120,000.
Last week two men approached an employee at a Lowertown business with a bogus story of how they retrieved $3.5 million in $20 and $50 US bills but the currency was covered in a black ink security feature and needed a special chemical to be removed.
The clerk was shown dyed bills and the washing procedure using two examples of the currency.
He was then told it would cost $124,000 to purchase the chemical needed to remove the dye.
The suspects instructed the clerk not to tell anyone because it could put their lives at risk, as they were seeking refugee status in Canada.
Police were alerted and Victor Onana and Vincent Onana, both 29, were arrested.
They face one charge of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Wash-wash Black Cash Scam Con Artist Arrested
10/08 - (Newfoundland) - A Liberian man arrested Monday for allegedly conducting activities believed to be part of a black market scam or a wash money scam, was granted bail today when he appeared in provincial court in St. John’s.
Adolphus Kwaidah, 32, who is a resident of Scarborough, Ont., was released on conditions including that he not leave the province, turn over all immigration documents to the court and report to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary daily.
Kwaidah charges have been upgraded from attempted fraud to two counts of fraud over $5,000.
He is due back in court April 22.
It is alleged that between March 26 and April 7, Kwaidah entered the businesses of Mount Pearl Auto King on Commonwealth Avenue and the Totally Greek Restaurant on Gilesannes Street in St. John’s and approached employees with an offer of money.
It is alleged Kwaidah told employees that he had a large amount of money smuggled into the country and if they give him money to buy a product to wash a chemical off the bills, he would reward them with a percentage of the money.
Police say the scam is commonly known to consist of an individual fraudulently obtaining or attempting to obtain money from a victim by persuading him or her that piles of plain black banknote-sized paper is real currency that is dyed black. The person sometimes says it is dyed black to avoid detection by custom officials.
Money Washing Scam Black Cash Scheme Arrests
06/08 - (Ontario) - "Highly organized" groups are involved in money washing schemes, a York Regional Police fraud investigator said after police announced the arrest of three out-of-province men Thursday.
The busts were in connection with a cash-washing hoax in which a man was told about chemically treated Canadian cash that needed to be smuggled out of Africa.
It is the second high-profile case in the region in recent months.
"Certainly they are very highly organized groups," fraud unit Det.-Const. Joe Tanczos said generally of people involved in the scams. "Do they pass their trade or their tricks on? I'd say they probably do."
On May 14, a 48-year-old man was approached by a group of people in a Yonge Street and Hwy. 7-area parking lot and told he could make a profit through a business transaction, Det.-Const. Tanczos said. The man was told about chemically treated Canadian cash that had to be smuggled out of Africa, according to York Regional Police.
He was told the cash had to be treated with a chemical to be restored, a process for which he had to pay the cost, police said.
After what police call "an elaborate hoax", the man discovered the cash was blank paper and his real money was gone.
On May 29, the man called police reporting a loss of $11,000. A probe led investigators to Carlton Street in Toronto where three men were arrested Monday.
A 48-year-old drifter, a 51-year-old Montreal man and a 28-year-old Laval, Que. man are charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of instruments of forgery.
The drifter and Montreal man were granted bail Thursday and are scheduled for another court appearance July 3. The Laval man was scheduled for a court appearance today.
In April, York police announced the arrest of two Brampton residents in connection with a $165,000 fraud case that involved a meeting at an Aurora hotel.
A man with an Orangeville restaurant for sale was approached by a potential buyer, who wanted to pay cash and told the man the money had been shipped from an African nation and that, for security reasons, it had been chemically altered to look like blank paper, police said.
The seller was told the cash would have to be treated with a special chemical to be restored and that the process required the restaurant owner's cash.
A meeting was set up at the Aurora hotel, after which the restaurant owner realized the cash was blank paper and his money was gone, police said.
Two Brampton residents, a 37-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man, were charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of instruments of forgery.
A direct connection between the two cases has not been established, Det.-Const. Tanczos said.
If you have been approached by anyone who asked for money and offered to chemically treat paper to turn it into currency, call police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6622, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or leave a tip at www.1800222tips.com
Nigerian Black Cash Washing Money Scam
07/08 - There is no telling how many millions of dollars have gone into giving maximum security to Chelsea Clinton, the only child of former American President, Bill Clinton. There is no knowing the number of beefy minders, to say nothing of myriad hi-tech devices, deployed to protect her from anything from a slippery floor to suicide bombers.
So important is Chelsea Clinton’s personal security since age 12 when she moved into the White House that her room in the University was a double wall, fortified to CIA specifications.
In fact, there is no knowing the other measures taken to deflect harms from her way.
However, in the sophisticated and elaborate design to shield Chelsea from anthrax, terrorists and from every life-and-happiness threatening situation, no one gave a thought to criminal elements from Nigeria.
True to type, the 419 scammers struck when the Americans least expected it. Before the wolves came calling in sheep clothing, Chelsea Clinton was on a roller-coaster romance with 28-year-old investment banker, Marc Mezvinsky. Plans of walking down the aisle were as carefully constructed as her mother’s daunting presidential ambition. Every detail appeared to have received forensic scrutiny and nothing possibly could go wrong. Or so it seemed.
Unknown to Chelsea whose wedding was being planned to give Americans something to talk about, she had an Achilles heel in the form of her future father-in-law. The man, Ed Mezvinsky, was caught in the snare of some Advance Fee fraudsters who quietly cleaned out their ‘mugu’ of $14 million before he was rescued.
Details of the scam, captured in an investigative video shown to this reporter at the EFCC office, showed that Ed Mezvinsky personally lost $3 million. The rest were monies he took off friends, banks and even his wife’s mother. He is currently serving 80 months in prison, a development that forced Chelsea to part ways with the convict’s son.
Love from Nigeria
If anybody had told Chelsea Clinton that her future would be shattered by some shadowy figures from Nigeria, she would have scoffed at it with a wave of the hand. While her father was President, she had accompanied him on a state visit to Nigeria, where she later gushed about the country’s warmth and hospitality. How much of those beautiful moments are still left in Chelsea today will be hard to tell.
Saturday Sun gathered that Ed Mezvinsky fell victim to an outmoded 419 formula that can hardly entrap a streetwise kid in Lagos. The former congressman fell hard for the ‘red mercury’ scam known in local parlance as “wash wash”.
The old man was told some millions of dollars had been stolen and smuggled out of Nigeria. The fraudsters claimed the dollars, packed in boxes, were coated black to disguise them for easy smuggling and that a special chemical was needed to remove the black coating.
Given incidences in Nigeria that were simply stranger than fiction, it was honestly a tough job dismissing any story of stolen cash running into millions. In the hey days of the General Sani Abacha regime, a certain government official (names withheld) from Niger State had somehow found an uncanny access to easy cash. It was like he had literally burrowed his way into some secret vault.
His household was a bit curious when the man speedily got an engineer to erect an overhead water tank in his country home. Members of his family were all the more confused when the man assembled them and left instructions that under no circumstances must they pump water into the tank. They soon found out why.
On a fairly regular basis, the government official was moving cash- denominated in dollars, naira, pound sterling and deutschmark- from Abuja to his village. When his nocturnal activities were no more a secret, he again assembled his household and told them he was working for the Head of State and was warehousing the cash for the fearsome dictator, General Abacha himself. His aim was simple: to drive the fear of God into the villagers. No one said a word of it, not even in whispers.
Months, possibly years into the ‘water project’, the government official fell ill and died. General Abacha was still alive. Thinking that the Head of State must be waiting to see their next move, the dead man’s uncle journeyed to Abuja to tell the General that the money was still intact.
The patriotic citizen narrated his mission to some Aso Rock aides who, unable to believe their good fortune, quickly put heads together, went into an inner office and came out with words that the Head of State was grateful to the dead man and his family. The following day, the presidential aides, accompanied by some soldiers, turned up in the village, dismantled the water tank and carted away its contents.
If anything, the water tank episode gave credulity to stories peddled by characters posing as sons or wives of dead politicians or Army Generals saying they have in their possessions millions of dollars hidden in metal trunks. What more, a Nigerian military attaché to Indian was only last year arrested in that countries airport with two million dollars in cash.
Trail of victims
A few years ago when the lifeless body of a popular patent medicine dealer was discovered dangling from a ceiling in the Alapere area of Ketu, Lagos, police investigations linked the suicide to a ‘red mercury’ scam.
One victim who lived to tell his experience was Obed Akwekwe, a fairly successful businessman who used to sell palm oil in drums around the Daleko Rice Market in Mushin, Lagos. Obed narrated his experience to Saturday Sun:
“ I was on my way to the shop when I met these people. It was in 1999 and I remember it was a Tuesday because the Aswani market was holding on that day. As I got to the Aye bus stop, a man looking lost and helpless accosted me. Listening to him was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life. But the man really looked lost. He was holding a piece of paper containing an address and the name of a woman. He appeared not to understand English very well and was in fact speaking with a foreign accent. He told me he was a sailor and a Camerounian. His ship had just arrive and he was looking for this woman who he said was his customer.”
The man told Obed that the last time his ship arrived Nigeria, he had brought some goods, which he disposed off to the woman at bargain prices. He said that because his ship was leaving the following day, he could not collect all his money from the woman and had indeed hurried off with the arrangement that when next he arrived, she would not only pay him the balance but also pay more for the goods he would bring. But the more Obed looked at the address, the clearer it became that it was non-existent.
“About the time that this so-called foreigner was showing me the paper, a young man who I later discovered to be his partner crossed the road and joined us. He pretended as if he was a “Good Samaritan.”
I was even the one that showed him the address but he looked at it and said it does not exist. He said he had lived in the Isolo area for long and knew there was no place called Alhaja Ojikuti Street. When he asked what the problem was and I told him, he screamed that the woman had cheated the sailor.
When I told the man that someone else had just confirmed the street did not exist, the man put his hands on his head and lamented that he had lost good money. He then begged me to direct him to a good church. When I asked him what for; he said he was looking for a good Christian to buy the goods he had brought because he did not want to be cheated a second time. He said he would adequately compensate me for my effort.”
At that time, the second man jumped in and said he was willing to buy the goods that supposedly included television sets, hair dryers, refrigerators and other appliances. But the more the second man, who said he was a businessman at the Alaba International Market, offered to buy the goods the more the sailor retreated.
He said he did not trust the stranger and begged Obed to send the man away. After Obed had assured him that the second man meant no harm and that he would personally supervise the sale, the sailor was calm again. Next, the trio set out to where the goods were. Along the way however, the story began to change.
“At first I thought we were going to Apapa port. But we ended up at Ilasa, just two streets behind the police station. The sailor at first told me the goods were in a warehouse, locked up by a Customs Officer who had helped him to clear the goods. He said the Customs man would not release the goods until he had been paid. I asked him how much the money was and he said N60,000.
Anyway, while we were thinking how to get the goods out, he volunteered that he had on him some items that the Customs allowed him to take away and which could be sold to raise money. He claimed the items were mere photographic materials packed inside a box and that he sneaked it out from his Captain’s room who he said was a business partner of Senator Arthur Nzeribe. I forgot to say that when we arrived at this house at Ilasa, two other men were there. They both looked very worried as they asked the sailor where he had been.”
It was not very clear how the two men had made the acquaintance of the so-called sailor but they owned the room in a face-me-I-face-you structure. They had given accommodation to the Cameroonian while helping him to beg the Custom Officer to release his goods. Meanwhile, the sailor had brought out a metal trunk that he now said contained negatives of what might be pornographic pictures.
Again, he still dropped the name of Arthur Nzeribe, alluding to how wealthy he was, having seen his mansions in France and Florida. Debates over the true nature of the photographic materials was soon put to rest when the sailor decided to carry out a little test so he would be sure of what he was selling. He demanded for a bowl and some water just as he produced an ampole containing a dark brown liquid.
“He told us he had always been curious about what his captain had been doing with the photographic materials and that he had once seen him apply the liquid on some pieces though he was not allowed to see the end result.
From the box, he took five pieces and dropped them into the water. Then he added the black liquid. He gave me a wristwatch to hold so I could time the chemical reaction that he said must be concluded in five minutes precisely.
It did not occur to me to ask him how he knew it would be precisely five minutes since he had never done it before. The sailor pretended to be tired and then closed his eyes, not before telling me to wake him up in five minutes should he fall asleep.
The two men we met inside the house were by now standing outside, pretending to be minding their business. Five minutes passed and I shook him but just as I did, the man that followed us from Aye bus stop had dipped his hands into the water. When he brought out the negatives, he shouted. It was like magic but right there before my eyes, the black papers had turned into new naira notes.”
The other two men rushed in from outside. They too could not believe what they saw. Or so they made out. They began to scream: “We are rich! We are rich! So this is how these rich men make their millions.” The sailor told Obed that there were five million pieces inside the box. He did not say who counted them but that did not matter as all talks were now centered on how to get enough quantity of the dark brown liquid.
The sailor volunteered that it was expensive but could be procured from some Lebanese. The four men began to put heads together on how to buy the expensive chemical. Unknown to Obed, he was the only one bringing the money and by the time the wool was pull off his eyes, he had lost more than N800,000.
Saturday Sun discovered that the sailor hook is just one of a dozen ways by which fraudsters ensnare their victims. According to the police, another common trap is the use of taxi called Kabukabu. In one pathetic case, a housewife was tricked on her way to Festac Town in Lagos. She had boarded an unpainted taxi from Badagry.
Along the way, the driver picked quarrel with another female passenger, asking her for the umpteenth time what she was carrying inside a carton. By the time they approach Okokomaiko, the driver threatened to drive her to a police station, saying he could not be stupid to be carrying a contraband that might land him in trouble.
At this point the female passenger with tears in her eyes turned to the Festac housewife to help beg the driver. The housewife responded by saying she could not help in begging when she had no idea what the matter was all about.
The carton owner then appeared to have a second thought. She begged the driver to take an alternative route to avoid the notorious police checkpoint at Okokomaiko and that afterwards, she would confess. The driver said he knew of an alternative route that would take them to Iba Estate and on to Mile 2. There on a dusty backstreet, the carton owner began to spill the bean.
She went into a convoluted tale of how she worked for a whiteman who was the Managing Director of a popular construction company. She said the man had regularly been sending her on errands across the border to bring in such cartons, and that the process was facilitated by some Nigerian Customs officers and Beninoise agents at Cotonou port.
When asked what the content was, she claimed she had no clue until recently when she discovered it was dollars. The taxi driver berated her, asking her if she was a baby and what she was waiting for to make herself rich.
The carton owner defended herself, saying the dollars were coated with a black substance and that it would be useless carting it away when she didn’t have the chemical to clean them. To convince everybody that she knew what she was talking about, she pulled out a bundle of what was possibly fake dollars that she claimed the whiteman paid her on her last trip.
The driver charged that if her boss was paying her much, then she should imagine how much the man was raking in. He suggested that everyone should keep the matter a secret and that for their silence all the passengers would get a piece of the action.
As if on cue, a male passenger who had all the while not said a word, identified himself as a pastor. In fact he was wearing a collar that suggested he was a clergyman. He offered some prayers thanking God for making him board that vehicle; then he advised they took the carton to a safe place.
The Festac housewife did not know it at the time, it was the beginning of a nightmare. She did not tell her husband a thing because she had been pressured to take a blood oath. She would lose her jewelries, coldroom business and N1.7 million naira in cash. The police disclosed that by the time there were called in, both the driver and the Pastor had taken turn to rape her repeatedly. Indeed, a similar case was reported in The Sun Newspaper some months ago.
The lady in question lost N30,000 that her elder sister had sent her to the bank to cash. Then she carried the sum of N1.3 million in a Ghana-Must-Go bag by herself to the fraudsters. The money was remitted by her brother oversea for a purpose. Police said she too was raped.
How they do it
Saturday Sun investigations revealed that the red mercury scam is also referred to as ‘marked currency’, ‘defaced black currency’, ‘wash wash’, ‘money multiplier’, ‘black dollar fraud’ and ‘cash cleaning scam’.
They all involve the victims being informed of the existence of trunk loads of currency notes which are said to have been coated or stamped in order to disguise their identity from the authorities or for "security purposes".
Each note may be said to have a smudge on its face that will prevent detection by a scanning device as it passed through airport checks. Some are said to be stamped with the initial"U.N." or "UNDP" (United Nations Development Programme) amid claims that the money is only for development work but was stolen by some government officials. The alleged money is shown to the victim, who is told that the black coating or stamps can be removed by washing it with a special compound.
The exotic and expensive mix of secret chemicals for cleaning money, could be referred to by the fraudsters as SSD Solution, Vectrol Paste, Lactima Base 98%, microtectine and Tebi-Matonic or any name that comes into their head.
However, it can be revealed that the special chemical is ordinary cleaning fluid that reacts with the black mixture of Vaseline and iodine. Then the currency notes in the trunk are nothing but blank blackened papers often made simply by photocopying with the lid up and cutting the sheets down to the size of a dollar or naira note banknote size.
In most cases the actual currency has been pre-coated with a protective layer of common white glue, then dyed with tincture of iodine. This is later removed with a "secret and expensive" solution consisting of only water and crushed vitamin C tablets.
EFCC spoiled their fun
A copy of a 419 letter involving the red mercury scheme and faxed to potential overseas victims was obtained by Saturday Sun. It was something similar that was used to con the father of Chelsea Clinton heartthrob.
Of course, Ed Mezvinsky had heard and read stories of Nigerian government officials moving hefty sums out of the country. He was an easy game. The former congressman was told some million of dollars had been stolen and smuggled out of the country.
The crooks got a small quantity of the ‘expensive chemical’ and ‘washed’ a few pieces of ‘mint’ for him. What came out were genuine dollar notes. The man began to empty his bank account. But something always went wrong with the ‘washing’ process.
It was either the bottle of ‘chemical’ exploded or there was a mistake with the chemistry performed inside their one-room laboratory. While they had him on the leash, Mezvinsky came over to Nigeria several times to check out other fabulous propositions.
The video shown by the EFCC was an undercover investigative report commissioned by ABC television in US. The report revealed how Nigerian 419 agents in the US preyed on their American victims, showing scenes in Washington DC, Dallas and California where the ABC investigative team encountered them, having disguised as willing victims of the 419 game.
At first, the fraudsters were not aware undercover reporters were filming them. In one of the scenes in the US, two Nigerians demonstrated ‘wash wash’ to the Americans. The Nigerians were dressed in lab coats, hand gloves and nose masks as they turned pieces of ‘black money’ into dollar notes. Once told the game was up, one of them, a man in his forties, began to cry.
Another scene took place at the car park of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos. A scammer is meeting his American ‘mugu’ who had arrived Nigeria on a business deal. From the booth of a car, the white man pulled out a briefcase stuffed with dollar notes. He insists the Nigerian counts it.
The 419 man cannot believe his luck that the white man has brought cash for him but he says he cannot count such cash in public. The white man says he must. As they attracted attention of passersby, the doors of a nearby car opened and a camera crew opened. Seeing he has been unmasked, the fraudster begins to beg for forgiveness. He says he will repent. But that was music for the EFCC.
Black Money Scam Victim Has Blinders On
08/08 - I would show my friend Lyle the black money page, but he's in too deep - he has an answer for everything - why his situation is 'different' from any other.
I corresponded briefly with a chemist who had been involved in trying to tell victims that no such 'money washing' chemicals exist, and his experience was helpful. Not because he was able to make any headway with Lyle, but because he had encountered other people with exactly the same level of commitment and delusion.
He quoted other victims whose answers were identical to the ones I was getting, and I came to realize that nothing was going to help.
Scamwarners say there are lifelong victims and sadly it appears that Lyle is one. Although he earns a decent salary, he lives like a pauper to devote funds to his 'project'. He goes without personal needs, doesn't visit his grandchildren as there is no money for transportation, and has become completely isolated from family and friends.
We attended counseling for a year (gambling addiction counseling). Well I attended, he only went twice and the last time was to thank the counselor for helping me to understand that his project wasn't going to be abandoned - ever - and that it was good that I had finally accepted that.
We were supposed to move in together and even talked about marriage but now have just kind of a sad friendship that is gradually becoming more and more distant. For an otherwise seemingly intelligent person he is completely lost in a fantasy world - where he will one day collect riches for all his sacrifice.
You have probably read the story of Nigerian Black Money Victim John Worley. If not active here's a link http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/05/15/060515fa_fact -
The guy is a psychotherapist, which is interesting, considering the psychology of this thing is a major factor - his psychological profile seems to be very much like Lyle's. Our story would be similar, on a smaller scale financially, although no less devastating personally.
Lyle's story may end the same way as John Worley's. Lyle in jail and everyone baffled at his unshakable faith. Like Worley, he'd probably be sitting in prison thinking that his African contacts had been duped by someone else and they were all victims - another common thread with our story.
The scammers use that one skillfully. They establish a sense of comradeship, that they are all in the 'battle' together, and they represent themselves as victims of corrupt governments and even victims of other scammers. A convoluted never ending tangled web of lies, blackmail, fear and greed. I fought for three years and lost - the dream is too powerful.
Contacting authorities didn't help. Our system says that giving your money away is not a crime, and African police can't/won't do anything.
All we can do is provide information to help others. I am working with a couple of groups to assist in a small way, in the hope of helping someone else avoid the same grief and loss. When the story is written I'll send you a copy with the names changed. Thanks again for being one of the good guys.
Related info at: