LATEST SCAM IN TOWN

By NBF News
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Possibly for business scammers in Nigeria the days of writing fluke letters to fleece business partners are over. But it is not yet over with their tricks. They keep inventing new means of getting along.

Another door has been opened to such conmen with the proliferation of the internet.

Every email address is inundated with letters for all forms of business proposals, most of them absurd. How the conmen get the email addresses still remain a puzzle but investigation reveals that they hack the net with particular software and download many email addresses.

To show how ridiculous it is, an email was opened for a primary school pupil to teach her what email was all about. After few weeks, the pupil started receiving in her email box proposal for transfer of funds to her account.

The desperation of these cyber criminals has put the banks on their toes as they continuously warn their customers not to update their personal information on any website because of requests by conmen to update their personal information. This message is pasted on banking halls and displayed on the screen of ATM machines.

Samuel Uwem, a businessman opened his mail box early in the month and saw a letter supposedly from a Liberian refugee in Togo. The refugee, a lady explained to him, how life has been hard on her and would need his assistance. The young man was carried away by the story and requested the girl to send her photograph and she did. The photograph showed a very beautiful girl with a traffic stopping figure. Samuel was hypnotized by the photograph and other thoughts started coming his way. Conversation changed from internet to phone conversation and he started planning to rent an apartment for the lady where he would be visiting him from his matrimonial home. The lady requested that he sent her $1000 through electronic transfer for shopping and transport fare to Nigeria and that Samuel would come to Seme, the border town between Nigeria and Benin Republic to pick her on an agreed date.

The young man bought the proposal and hurriedly went to the bank and wired the money to her account. On the agreed day, he went to Seme Border to wait for her from morning and they were talking over the phone. When evening was approaching, he called again and a man's voice came from the lady's end and said he was answering from Festac, Lagos and told him that he was stupid and gullible.

Many have accepted such messages hook, line and sinker and have been duped like Samuel.

While the telephone conversation was going on, how the phone reflected telephone code of Togo is also another puzzle. From all indication, it was at Festac Samuel was set up.

Every time you open your electronic mail, you are inundated with all sorts of mails about one business proposal or another. The amount of money usually quoted in US dollars is mindboggling. Some of the stories are ridiculous and some sound convincing depending on your mindset. Mostly all the gullible fall for them.

Even though, the letters have foreign addresses most of them emanate from Nigeria. Most of them are captioned, Business proposal, Urgent attention, Confidential, Please read carefully… etc.

Take a look at this letter, the writer is supposed to be a woman, who would be going for surgical operation and according to the letter, she believes that she might not survive the surgery and so has decided to will her fortune to an unknown person.

'I am Mrs. Mellisa Lewis. I will be going for an operation later today. I decided to will the sum of $14m to you, quote my personal reference number, LLP/953/900//316US/UK, to my pastor only, Mr. Paul Thomas. email:[email protected]'

My reply.
Dear Mrs. Lewis, I pray that you come out from the theartre alive. However, as you suggested I would get in touch with your pastor, Mr. Paul Thomas.

Letters written to the said Mr. Thomas were not answered.

Another of such letter dated May 28, from the desk of a manager in one of the banks in Burkina Faso solicited for transfer of money of $27.2m. The writer of the letter implored that the content of the letter be treated with utmost confidentiality.

'From the desk of Mrs. Mariam Ulah,
Bill and Exchange Manager,
Bank of Africa (B.O.A)
Ouagadougou Burkina-Faso (West Africa)
Remittance of $27,200,000.00 USA dollars
Confidential
My name is Mrs. Mariam Ulah; I am a banker by profession. I hail from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa. My reason for contacting you is to transfer an abandoned $27,200,000 to your account. The fund has been deposited by late (Mr. Paul Louis from Paris, France) who died along with his entire family on 6th December 2003 in an air crash.

Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines but unfortunately we learn that all his supposed next of kin or relations died in the plane crash.

I want to present you to the bank as next of kin/beneficiary of this fund.

It is therefore upon this discovery that I decided to make this business proposal to you and release the money to you as the next of kin or relation to the deceased for safety and subsequent disbursement since nobody is coming for it and we don't want this money to go into the bank treasury as unclaimed bill.

I will not fail to bring to your notice this transaction is hitch-free and that you should not entertain any atom of fear as all required arrangements have been made for the transfer, please treat this business with utmost confidentiality and you should contact me immediately as soon as you receive this letter.

Please make sure you keep this transaction as your top secret and make it confidential till we receive the fund into the account that you will provide to the bank. Don't disclose it to any body, because the secrecy of this transaction is the success of it.

Further details of the transaction shall be forwarded to you as soon as I receive your return mail indicating your interest.

I am waiting to hear from you urgently.
Yours faithfully,
Mrs. Mariam Ulah.
My reply
Dear Mrs. Ulah,
Your letter is very interesting, I am equally interested in the proposal only on one condition that it should be treated with absolute confidence because I am a very important person in Nigeria and wouldn't want anything that will drag the reputation that I have built into the mud. Thanks. Mr. Innocent Ben.

The correspondence continued after she had convinced me that $27 million would buy the whole world.

We agreed on a sharing formula of 45 percent of the amount for me, 30 percent for her and 25 percent to defray cost and settling some staff of the bank who are privy to the fate of Paul Louis. Discussion ended when she requested as urgent as possible for a transfer of $1500 through electronic to facilitate the release of certain documents that would lead to transferring the money to me.

The same mail from Mrs. Ulah was sent to some other colleagues.