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A New/Old Fraud from Nigeria

Update 21 May 2002

South Africa arrested six people (four of them Nigerians) on suspicion of being connected with this scam. London's Scotland Yard was also involved (in the investigation). The group also appears to be dealing in drugs. This is not the end of the matter, of course, but is a breakthrough.

Update May 2002:

I had thought these things were pretty much a joke, as did Spencer F. Katt, who writes the "Rumor Central" column in eWeek. But in his column of 29 April 2002 he revealed what he had learned about them. In the light of what I have learned with a little poking around I have added some new points and revised some of my earlier comments.

1. They are hardly a joke. Through 1996 (they began in the early '80s) they had swindled people out of five billion (yes, with a "b") US dollars and have reaped much more since then. This scam is somewhere between the third and the fifth largest industry in Nigeria, the largest country in Africa (oil is first, then maybe agriculture or government).

2. They are widely known as 419 scams, after the section in the Nigerian penal code that makes them illegal.

3. They are run by the same big Nigerian families that have brought corruption, military governments, poverty, and general misery to the Nigerian people. Something is being done. Read on.

4. The Obasanjo government, the first elected Nigerian government in decades, is trying to stop the fraud, but corruption is so deeply rooted there that it will take a very long time.

5. If you get one of these emails you should report it. If you are in the USA, have not had any financial loss, and have an email (as opposed to a fax or letter) send it here (if you tried this before and it didn't work, it should now). If you live elsewhere, received a letter or a fax, or experienced a loss, follow the instructions at this informative site. The Nigerian High Commission in the UK maintains this site. Or email here in the U.K.

6. Many of the scams coming from other African countries are actually run by Nigerians. A few, however, are run by copycats. The ones from Angola and South Africa were probably of this type.

7. Law enforcement agencies were not interested in them a few years ago, but this has become an international scandal. They now want all copies in the hopes that they can trace the perpetrators.

8. And you probably understand by now, you should never even reply to these. If (I should say when) you get one, send it on to the proper authorities (see #5 above).

Earlier Update: Since putting this page up, I have gotten several other emails. Some say they come from Nigeria, but others from are South Africa and Angola. I even got a deal to buy a lot of gold cheap. Boy, I am lucky.

Why are these frauds being mentioned here? For two reasons. Some years ago I got letters like this. I contacted the FBI, but they said they had lots of them. Several bead societies also got similar letters, so it seemed to me that they had a "bead society mailing list."

The second reason is the use of a precious stone (diamonds) in Exhibit 2. I received two copies of the Exhibit 1-type letter a couple of weeks ago and just deleted them (I would now send them in). When I got these two the other day, I thought they might be useful here.

They make it clear that you will be dealing with crooks, and in the case of Exhibit 2, with mass murderers (these are the people that cut off the hands and feet of innocent civilians). Why would anyone deal with them? The same reason frauds have worked for ages - greed (though I know of no greedy bead people).

What is going on in Exhibit 1 is clear: as soon as you give them your account information they withdraw everything and never deposit a cent. In Exhibit 2, an cruder email than Exhibit 1, they will ask you for shipping costs and then there will be delays and more problems until you are get tired of it or are broke.

Note also in Exhibit 2 that they "know" I am a trustworthily businessman, but they don't even know my name.

There are some new tricks. Exhibit 1 gives you someone to contact, but then says that that person disappeared with all their money. This has been around a long time.

Another new wrinkle is the use of diamonds. Under-reported in the American press (but well reported in the European media), violent wars in D.R. Congo (formerly Za´re) and Sierra Leone are financed by diamonds and other minerals in areas the "rebels" have captured. Over two million people have died in the Congo war, but it is so far away...

The "blood diamonds" have received some international attention, and DeBeers et al. have agreed not to deal in them, but this doesn't seem to have stopped the sales.

I did see something on TV the other night about the Congo situation and the sales of "coltan," a cobalt compound used for semi-conductor chips. It and other minerals are financing the war that many neighboring countries also participate in (some on the side of the rebels, some of the government).

The new president (son of the last president, himself a former rebel) seems on first impression to be more moderate than his father. Talks have been held involving all sides, but so far, the war continues.

The other new thing is that they got my email address. I have recently seen a CD-ROM with 60 million addresses advertised for $30. This is why I don't post my address on TheBeadSite.com. But these people got it somehow. Both of them posted through a Yahoo! account.

So, have fun reading. I have altered nothing but the spacing.

Exhibit 1

NNPC LAGOS ANNEX OFFICE
VICTORIA ISLAND,
LAGOS-NIGERIA.
FAX:234-1-759 1051

Dear Peter,

May I crave your indulgence to open this business discussion by a formal letter of this sort. It is pertinent that a business of this magnitude should have commenced properly with a formal meeting of you and us to enable us know ourselves, have a fore knowledge of the nature of the business, discuss and acquaint ourselves with the responsibilities and functions of parties concerned, and appropriate shares accordingly. However, for time factor, confidentiality and personality of people involved here in Nigeria, we choose this approach for the remittance of this Twenty Million U.S. Dollars (US$20.0M). Please bear with us for making the initial contact through e-mail. But my partners are insisting for a meeting in order not to fall into a wrong hand again.

I am Dr ORISA CHIKE,we are members of the special committee for Budget and Planning of the Ministry Petroleum. This committee is principally concerned with contract appraisal and the approval of the contracts in order of priorities as regards capital projects of the past military government of Nigeria.

With our positions, we have successfully secured for ourselves this sum of Twenty Million U.S. Dollars (US$20.0M). This amount was accumulated through undeclared windfall sales of crude oil during the gulf war.

Hence together with two of our top officials at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), we plan to transfer this amount of money into a secure overseas account by awarding a sort of contract from the NNPC. To this effect I have been given the mandate by my colleagues to contact you and ask for your assistance. What we need from you is to provide a nice account in which the funds will be transferred. My colleagues and I have agreed to compensate you or the owner of the account used for this transaction with 30% of the total amount remitted. We shall have 65% and the remaining 5% reserved for taxes and other miscellaneous expenses in your country.

It may interest you to know that last two years a similar transaction was carried out with one Mr. Patrice Miller, the President of Craine International Trading Corporation at number 135 East 57th Street, 28th Floor, New York, NY 10022 with telephone number (212) 308-7788 and telex number 6731689. After the agreement between both partners in which he was to take 20% of the money while the remaining 80% for us.

With all the required documents signed, the money was duly transferred into this account only to be disappointed on our arrival in New York, and we were reliably informed that Mr. Patrice Miller was no longer on that address while his telephone and telex numbers have been reallocated to somebody else.

That was how we lost US$9 Million to Mr. Patrice Miller.

This time around we need a more reliable and trustworthy person or a reputable company to do business with hence this letter to you. So if you can prove yourself to be trusted and interested in this deal then we are prepared to do business with you. What we want from you is the assurance that you will let us have our share if this amount (US$20.0M) is transferred into your account. If this proposal is okay by you, then reply through my email urgently so that we can set the ball rolling and negotiate the modalities involved.

Kindly, treat as very important and strictly confidential, I honestly assure you that this transaction is 100% risk-free. I look forward to your response and expected co-operation and God bless you.

Regards,

Dr ORISA CHIKE.

Exhibit 2

Sir,

I am Col.KIZOMBE Kamara, a former senior assistant leader of revolutionary united front of sierra Leone know as (R.U.F), with me is also(sergent)ZAKARY Sogo. Few weeks ago,we decided and made away with large quantity of (diamond) weighing 2.98kg which have been saved and deposited in a high assetts management and security company before boarding for Dakar Senegal, where we have decided to stay temporarily and decide on what to do with those great resources which is our hope of life.

(NOTE)I KNEW AS I AM EXPRESSING THIS TO YOU MIGHT BE FUNNY BUT IF YOU DECIDE YOU CAN COME DOWN AND SEE IT AND TEST IT.

We got your contact from the internet and decided to contact you as an honest and trustworthy able businessman whom we can trust and transact business with. As a trusted and honest businessman like you, we would like you to secure our great ressource(DIAMONDS) in your care as we have decided to order a command to the security Company to transfer our resourses to you depending on your urgent reply to our request.

Note that this transaction demands the highest trust security and confidentiality between us. Moreover it is risk free in the sense that i have taken proper care of all formalities regarding this transaction. For your assistance and co-operation I have decided to give you 15% of the total money generated from it's sales and 5%maped out for any miscellaneous expenses that we may occure during the process of transferring the ressource to your country.

As soon as the ressources mentioned above is successfully transfered in to your position.We intend to use our own share in acquiring estates and landed properties in your country. On commencement, I wish this transaction will take 14 working days to accomplish. On request a certificate of deposit bond of the security company,together with the lab test result certificate of the diamond will be sent to you as soon as i hear from you. Feel free to contact me through my phone+221-664-52-16.

For my own interest please treat confidential.

Thanks, yours sincerely

Col.Kizombe Kamara.

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