Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Nigerian Scam Victims in 2006

Man loses $3 million to Nigerian Internet scam

05/06 - SANTA ANA, Calif. -- The son of a prominent Orange County psychiatrist on Thursday successfully stopped his father from spending any more of the family fortune on a Nigerian Internet scam, in which the son claims as much as $3 million was lost.

Dr. Guy Gottschalk won a court order preventing his father, Louis A. Gottschalk, the founding chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, from wiring more money to Nigeria.

According to the son's lawsuit, his father gave the money over a 10-year period in response to an Internet plea that promised the doctor a generous cut of a huge sum of cash trapped in African bank accounts in exchange for money advances.

Superior Court Judge David T. McEachen's order stops Gottschalk, 89, who still works at the UCI campus medical plaza that bears his name, from frittering away funds from an $8 million family partnership.

The elder Gottschalk, a neuroscientist, gained national prominence in 1987 by announcing that President Reagan had been suffering from diminished mental ability as early as 1980.

Fred W. Anderson, an attorney who represented the son, declined to comment.

According to Guy Gottschalk's account in court papers, his father first responded to the solicitations from Nigeria in 1995.

A year later, Louis Gottschalk traveled to Africa to met "The General" and other Nigerians "to show them that he was sincere so he would get the money."

Soon afterward, his son said Gottschalk admitted to him that he had lost $300,000 and that FBI agents concluded he had been a victim of an Internet scam.

Several family members said Louis Gottschalk at that time promised to never again give money to Internet solicitors. But the son said his father kept clandestinely wiring money to the Nigerians at least until last fall.

The scam, known in some circles as a 419 after the Nigerian statute that outlaws fraud, is a con that preys on people with e-mail accounts.

Although there are many variations, it begins with an unsolicited message from Nigeria or another African nation, usually from an alleged high-ranking official, banker or businessman, who needs to find a way to get millions of dollars out of his country.

It the target of the sting agrees to set up a United States bank account and pay transfer fees and other charges, he's told that he'll get a substantial portion of the money once it is freed up.

LA Times

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