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Nigerian Scam Artists Taken For $33,000 229

Posted by timothy
from the respectfully-for-your-most-elegant-attention-and-regards dept.
smitty777 writes "An Australian woman who was being used by a group of Nigerian scam artists stole over $33,000 from the group who employed her. Her bank account was being used to funnel the cash from a dodgy internet car sales website. Irony aside, it makes one wonder how these folks ever got the nerve to go to the police with this matter. Those of you wondering, this article offers some answers to the question of why so many of these scams originate from this area."
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Nigerian Scam Artists Taken For $33,000

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:01PM (#39139999)

    Those of you wondering, this article offers some answers to the question of why so many of these scams originate from this area.

    There was also a Fortune article [cnn.com] on this from years ago. It's hardly anything new. Anytime you combine poverty, internet access, and police/political corruption--you're going to get fraud. That's true in Nigeria. It's true in parts of eastern europe. It will be true about anywhere someone who makes $1 a day gets internet access and can suddenly interact with people who make $50,000 a year. Welcome to one of the downsides of a flat earth [wikipedia.org].

    Bet it pays a helluva lot better than trying to farm on unfertilized poorly-irrigated soil with some crappy non-GM seed that Sean Penn gave you.

    • by Smauler (915644) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:29PM (#39140251)

      It will be true about anywhere someone who makes $1 a day gets internet access and can suddenly interact with people who make $50,000 a year. Welcome to one of the downsides of a flat earth

      Oh, I agree, the big downside of a flat earth is that rich people are in contact with poor people. I see that, now. If only we could get back to a system in which there could be no interaction. Those systems are generally the best for humanity.

      • yeah, we just need a way to wall off all these rich people so the rest of us can get on with things
      • It will be true about anywhere someone who makes $1 a day gets internet access and can suddenly interact with people who make $50,000 a year. Welcome to one of the downsides of a flat earth

        Oh, I agree, the big downside of a flat earth is that rich people are in contact with poor people. I see that, now. If only we could get back to a system in which there could be no interaction. Those systems are generally the best for humanity.

        <irony>Well, you don't want to settle for no interaction, Let's just go back to slave ships and colonisation. Life was so much better then!</irony>

        BTW, aynokn is Nkonya in reverse. I've lived in the milieu for the better part of 20 years.

      • by Megahard (1053072) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:04PM (#39140541)
        “Politics is the art by which politicians obtain campaign contributions from the rich and votes from the poor on the pretext of protecting each from the other.” -- Oscar Ameringer
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:08PM (#39140595)

        Well, I'm sure if this were a Hollywood movie, the plucky noble poor kid in Nigeria would teach a valuable life lesson to the middle class couple. And at the end of the movie he and his wisecracking friends would get the money to build that new pipeline for his village, the middle class couple would start voting Democrat, and the evil industrialist would have his toxic waste dumped on his head in a comical fashion.

      • Hi there, I believe this is your baby I found mixed in with this cinereous soapy water.

      • Give a bit of credit here. I think the point was that enabling positive interactions also enables negative interactions. You don't have to think the negative outweighs the positive to still think it's bad. Good things often have a downside, and for people to point that out doesn't mean they are against the thing itself.

        The downside of chocolate is that it can cause tooth decay. I'm not against chocolate. (Arguments about sustainable trade in cocoa aside.)

    • by bkmoore (1910118) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:12PM (#39140637)

      ....Anytime you combine poverty, internet access, and police/political corruption--you're going to get fraud....

      And millionaire investment bankers / corporate raiders don't ever scam people? When poor people do it, it's criminal, when the wealthy do it, it's a free market.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:26PM (#39140811)

      To put the 419 economy into perspective, realize that Nigerians, like all Africans, have learned for hundreds of years that success comes not from hard work and investment, but from power, corruption, theft and scamming. For every hard working, honest European and American who's gone to Africa, there's been 100x more who went there to make a fortune off the backs of those $1 a day people you don't want to interact with.

      I've worked in Nigeria for a few years. It is a very large, hard-working, and historically industrious country founded from old trading kingdoms. Nigeria's commercial middle class largely survived colonial times. But the discovery of oil destroyed any sense of hard money. If every foreigner coming to Nigeria gets to drive a large SUV, goes to expensive bars and restaurants, and it's clearly based on a system of massive theft of resources from Nigerians, to benefit foreigners and their local partners, then what system of ethics can stop fraud becoming a massive industry?

      419 fraud is not just a random pastime, it's become a profession with entire families living off it, and doing well.

      If you want to lecture Africans about ethics, start at home and look how the West treats Africa: a pool of resources to be extracted at the cheapest possible cost with the least possible investment. If the middle class complains, send guns and soldiers to kill them. If there is a politician who tries to get a better deal, murder him or start a civil war to topple him.

      There's a reason so many Africans still live at that $1 a day level and it's driven by greed and theft on a huge scale. Fix that, then go and lecture Africans about their morality.

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        Mostly you do not have other people coming in and fixing your problems for you.
        Most countries will be happy export their problems to you and even create some for you.
        Mostly though if you want a problem solved it has to come from within.

        BTW. This is true on a personal level as well.

    • Apparently the latest incarnation of this scam is that they troll online dating sites like match.com and strike up an internet romance with lonely single women. They convince the women they're in international construction, or import/export, or some other field that would take them out of the country. Then they claim to be working a project (some of them even say it's in Nigeria, which I think is rather brazen) but will fly to the woman's city as soon as it's done. They get her excited about meeting their "

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        It's really amazing how many women fall for this, too.

        Wishful thinking is incredibly powerful. Mix in a little love and you have an 80-proof irrational cocktail of self-delusion.

    • by instagib (879544)

      crappy non-GM seed

      What is this? I don't even

  • by roguegramma (982660) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:06PM (#39140025) Journal

    .. you end up in jail and the money isn't yours either.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:07PM (#39140039)
    The Nigerians didn't get scammed. She merely diverted the funds stolen from the unfortunate Australian car buyers for her own use.
    • IMNAL, Illegal contracts are still contracts. i.e., if you sign an illegal contract, you can’t benefit by squelching on your end after you have received payment. So she committed fraud twice. Once by helping the scammers and then again be defrauding the scammers.

      There have been cases where people who have signed illegal contracts have had to uphold their end of the bargain. (But they don’t get their payment, police seize they assets, etc.)

      That being said, I don’t think the Australian poli

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        This sounds like complete BS to me. What court is going to force someone to perform an illegal act just because they have a contract? Got any citations?

        • It’s not a matter of enforcing the contract; it’s a matter of benefiting from it. The courts don’t want people entering into illegal contracts, benefiting from them and then disclaiming their reasonability because it’s illegal. That encourages moral hazard.

          I can’t pull up the cite right off the top of my head, but the case I am thinking about involved a husband who was in the middle of a divorce proceeding who won a substation lottery prize (100k I think). He did not want to

      • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:13PM (#39140651)

        IMNAL, Illegal contracts are still contracts. i.e., if you sign an illegal contract, you canâ(TM)t benefit by squelching on your end after you have received payment.

        Oh no, they are not. A contract to commit a crime is void. If I kill your wife and you refuse to pay, no court will convict you for refusing to pay. And if you paid in advance and I refuse to kill her, no court will make me kill her _or_ refund the money.

        One purpose of contracts is to make people work together. You couldn't sell a car if there was no way to make one side hand over the money and the other side hand over the car. Contracts to commit crimes are void intentionally to make that kind of collaboration harder.

        • Nope, Common Law courts have ruled that you have to refund the money. If you conspire to kill and get cold feet you donâ(TM)t get to keep the money.

          The purpose of enforcing illegal contracts is not âoemake people work together.â The purpose is to prevent people from benefiting from illegal activity. To take your case, we would be encouraging a lot of people to enter into âoecontract for killsâ so they could renege on them and keep the money. (Think of a business plan that you only

      • IAMAL either, but have taken a busiless law class. In British Columbia, Canada (and I assume most other places), any contract containing ANY illegal obligations is 100% void and worth absolutely nothing.
  • What?!? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:07PM (#39140045)

    FTFA :

    The car buyers who were ripped off reported the matter to police, who traced the account to Cochrane-Ramsey.

    From the fucking Summary:

    Irony aside, it makes one wonder how these folks ever got the nerve to go to the police with this matter.

    Because they didn't.

    Oy vey!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      My grandma went to the fbi after being scammed by nigerians. They told her to contact homeland security. She did and nothing came of it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by X0563511 (793323)

        Which has anything to do with however put that idiocy in the summary (eg a question the damn story linked to explicitly answers)?

        • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:55PM (#39140461)

          We can't bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...

      • They told her to contact homeland security. She did and nothing came of it.

        Really, the majority of drone strikes are largely undocumented. It works out best for all parties involved.

        Seth

      • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Funny)

        by v1 (525388) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:12PM (#39140633) Homepage Journal

        My grandma went to the fbi after being scammed by nigerians. They told her to contact homeland security. She did and nothing came of it.

        wrong homeland

        She needed to contact the office in Nigeria.

        If she's having problems getting ahold of them, I have a contact over there, let me know and for a small fee I'll arrange to get them in touch with her.

    • by Dogbertius (1333565) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:36PM (#39140935)
      I'm sure a lot of fellow /.'ers have heard of scambaiting (ie: scamming the scammers, but it usually is for fun or to make a point, rather than make money off the scammers).

      The link won't load at this moment sadly, but here is an interesting story from the BBC a few years back where one guy works as a professional scambaiter. I would NOT recommend this kind of thing in general, as you end up being on the shitlist for some less than reputable people, to say the least.

      news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3887493.stm

      In short, the guy convinces the scammers that he has no money, but he can steal some expensive stuff from his employer and send it to them if they pay for shipping and give him $50. So, he convinces them he's shipping tens of thousands of dollars worth of stolen Cisco equipment, when he's really shipping them e-waste, used electronics, old monitors, broken microwave ovens, and stuff that you typically have to pay to recycle or drop off at the dump. Pretty funny actually. I think his record is $80,000 of garbage recycled for free so far, including shipping costs.
    • There is little surprising about the story, just how messed up the summary is. The woman on trial was not scammed but part of the scam. She is a criminal who in exchange for a hefty percentage of real cash (and not promised cash as in the 911 scam) uses her own account to funnel money to her criminal employers.

      For that matter, there doesn't even seem to be a 911 scam going on at all. There are many other types of scams after all. Presumably since it involves cars it involves car sales where the car is never

  • by oneplus999 (907816) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:07PM (#39140049)
    She didn't steal it from the scammers, she stole it from the victims and then just didn't forward the money to the scammers like she was "supposed" to. This isn't a story of comeuppance or anything... just someone other than Nigerians ending up with the money. And of course the Nigerians didn't file the complaint... the victims did.
    • Is why the women needed the Nigerians in the first place. She was doing the legwork. Little the Nigerians could do to find her.

      Then again, the smart criminal is a rare breed.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "Then again, the smart criminal is a rare breed."

        Not really, they all work at banks and wall street. They know that you need to scam big time to get rich.

  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:09PM (#39140063)

    ...why so many of these scams originate from this area.

    I asked that same question of a missionary who had just come from Nigeria. His answer was that there is a culture there of "you're a clever individual if you can get the other fellow to pay for your lunch." For what it's worth...

    ~Loyal

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:25PM (#39140231)

      I asked that same question of a missionary who had just come from Nigeria. His answer was that there is a culture there of "you're a clever individual if you can get the other fellow to pay for your lunch." For what it's worth...

      My cats must be considered geniuses.

    • by GSloop (165220)

      I'm not exactly trying to knock you or your missionary friend...but let me say this.

      There are just as many scammers that live in the USA or anywhere else for that matter.
      There are just as many honest Nigerians too.

      People are people.

      Some are greedy liars, some are really nice folks.
      It doesn't really matter if they're black, white, male, female, gay, straight, or whatever.

      I do wish we'd start to question the premise of thoughts like this more.

      Rather than "Why are Nigerians such scammers..." perhaps we ought t

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        While what you say does have some truth to it, different cultures have different rules for what is acceptable conduct. From what I hear about India (From people from India who now live in Canada) is that to get anything done in India, you have to be willing to pay the bribe money. Everybody accepts bribes for everything. Whereas in Canada, Bribing is not common practice, and apart from things like bribing the door-man a club, I don't think it's really done. Most people who get stopped for a ticket don't
      • by gnick (1211984)

        There are just as many scammers that live in the USA or anywhere else for that matter.

        [citation needed]

        That would be nice to believe and ideally there would be an even distribution. Do you believe that crime rates are the same in every city and every neighborhood too? I think you'll find the statics to show a heavily skewed demographic of scammers in Nigeria vs the US. Cultural and economic differences come into play quite heavily when you're figuring out the odds of a person being willing to commit crimes.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        A reasonable perspective...

        But why does it seem like there is a disproportionately high percentage of these scams with Nigerian origin?

      • Rather than "Why are Nigerians such scammers..." perhaps we ought to ask ourselves - "what has gone wrong that causes people to do these things.

        I think the question answers itself. The culture that you are in and the culture that I am in think that there is something wrong with people who scam others. The impression I got from the missionary is that the general attitude in Nigeria was that there is nothing wrong with people who scam others. In fact, there is something very much right with people who do.

    • by sjames (1099)

      So pretty much the same as those people on Wall Street.

  • She stole from people who were defrauded on the car sales website, not from the Nigerians. They never lost a penny, as it was not their money to begin with.

    The Nigerians did not go to the police. The ripped-off car buyers did. (Smitty777 obviously did not read TFA before writing TFS.)

    • This. In fact, the money she took was her cut. It was an agreement she set up with the scammers. As in, she's complicit in their crimes.
  • Some of those offers to send me money could be real?
  • by s-whs (959229) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:12PM (#39140107)

    Those of you wondering, this article offers some answers to the question of why so many of these scams originate from this area."

    No actually, it doesn't. Poverty is not a reason for scamming. It might be a reason for stealing food or other things. Scams show a particular mindset, and that the most common type of Nigerian scam has originated elsewhere is irrelevant. What matters is how many people do it, and the information I have is that scamming is commonplace in Nigerian culture, so they do it to themselves, not just to others with a 'lot' of money outside Nigeria. This means poverty has nothing to do with why they all seem to be Nigerians. Though I suppose, being a Nigerian, seeing some scammer from your country make a lot of money, might influence you to do the same thus giving a flood of such people, but as I said, it seems to be commonplace behaviour in Nigeria itself.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      No actually, it doesn't. Poverty is not a reason for scamming.

      Absolutely true.

      It really annoys me to hear people (champagne socialists, usually) talking about poverty being the source of crime. It absolutely is not.

      Some of the world's greatest artists, humanitarians, scientists and social reformers have come from poverty far worse than anyone currently living in the West has ever experienced, and probably far worse than most Nigerians too, for that matter.

      There's proportionally just as much crim

      • You are far less likely to get robbed living in a rich neighborhood compared to a poor one. There isn't much incentive for wealthy people risking jail time over committing crimes especially when they have the means to live a comfortable life.

        In developing countries, there is far less jobs and opportunities for people to make money. You have many people who have college degrees and speak English with no job opportunities to become productive citizens. Scamming people online becomes a way to make money to

        • Violent criminals don't live in wealthy areas because violent crime isn't very profitable. The guy who embezzled a few hundred thousand from his company might be your neighbor though!

          So while you're less likely to be mugged in a rich neighborhood, I wouldn't necessarily say you're less likely to get robbed.

          You could, for example, live next to Barnie Madoff.

          Put another way, like any other profession, only the really good criminals get to be rich.

    • by fermion (181285)
      This is news because it is Nigerian or because it is a scam. Because scams are nothing new. It all comes down to selling a product that is not real in any meaningful sense. R. Allen Stanford, Madoff, and who knows how many others are on trail for doing exactly the same thing, advertising products that really did not really exists. Stanford is trying to win an acquittal by saying the products did exists sufficiently to satisfy some overly broad level of financial responsibility, i.e. not fraud. Really i
  • Good for her! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@carp a n e t . net> on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:20PM (#39140179) Homepage

    I tried to scam some scammers once, for far less money. I can definitely see how that would feel like a huge triumph.

    I had gotten a response to an ad looking for a roomate. This fuckwad strung me along for days before revealing that they intended to pay for the first months rent and security deposit with a travelers check and "could you please cash it and forward the balance to....".

    Oh I was fuming. I put the room back on the market, and continued with the scammer as if nothing happened. I told them the first set of travelers checks never arrived, even though they had and i already verified with the post office that they were fake.... then I got the second set....and admited I knew it was a scam.

    At this point, things took a turn for the hilarious. Immediately he switched over to admitting it was a scam and....trying to recruit me to help! He claimed he needed a mailing address in the US, and needed someone to send out packages....claimed he would pay $500 per package of letters!

    So of course, I told him I would do it but I needed the money up front...fully intending to keep the money and spend the next decade gloating over how I scammed the scammer.... he even told me he could get counterfit bills.... which got me thinking how fun it would be if this all resulted in my getting to report him to the SS.

    Of course, the whole thing broke down when he wanted to talk on the phone....and I wasn't willing to give out my real phone number. I suppose he already had my address so it hardly mattered, but, I didn't want harassing calls either.

    • its the internet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:31PM (#39140265)

      Not that I give any weight to your story, but I think if the only thing that stood between you making 500$ was a telephone number, anyone would go buy a 30$ burner with 10$ of minutes on it.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        Well it was what made me sit back and think. I had to A) worry that they might get mad and retaliate...afterall they had my address and B) Would they even send a real $500 or would they just send counterfits anyway?

        Its not like it was a sure thing. Also, this was several years back.... hmm I probably still have the IM logs somewhere....

        Guy was trying to contact me for weeks. It was pretty amusing.

    • The problem with this is she wasn't scamming the Nigerians. She took money the Nigerians scammed from the victims. I welcome scams that part the scammer of their money, but stealing money from those defrauded by their scam is in pretty poor taste. Not only that but the article seems to indicate she didn't even know it was a scam, which means she thought she was stealing $33,000 from her employers.

      Mixed with her history of theft before this even happened, this is one classy lady.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        Yup, reminds me of the friend of mine who got in trouble with the bank because he noticed an extra $500 in his account (a lot for him at the time), and immediately withdrew it and spent the money. The bank then took the money back from his account, leaving him negative, and demanded the money.

        Dumbass. Though, at the same time.... I don't know if I feel right calling what she did stealing. It was her account, if someone is moving that kind of money in her name, I think she should feel she has every right to

    • At this point, things took a turn for the hilarious. Immediately he switched over to admitting it was a scam and....trying to recruit me to help! He claimed he needed a mailing address in the US, and needed someone to send out packages....claimed he would pay $500 per package of letters!

      So of course, I told him I would do it but I needed the money up front...fully intending to keep the money and spend the next decade gloating over how I scammed the scammer.... he even told me he could get counterfit bills.... which got me thinking how fun it would be if this all resulted in my getting to report him to the SS.

      Of course, the whole thing broke down when he wanted to talk on the phone....and I wasn't willing to give out my real phone number. I suppose he already had my address so it hardly mattered, but, I didn't want harassing calls either.

      Using any real life info with scammers is a very bad idea - just because they are thousands of miles away doesn't mean they don't have friends who are a lot closer. You're pissing off people who already engage in crime, why risk it?

      a great site to visit is 419eater.com - a vast world of scam baiting exists; some of the stories are very funny.

    • I tried to scam some scammers once, for far less money. I can definitely see how that would feel like a huge triumph.

      Obligatory scam baiters link: http://www.thescambaiter.com/ [thescambaiter.com]

      These guys have turned scamming the scammers into an art form.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:29PM (#39140253)

    ...a group of Nigerian scam artists

    While this is technically correct (the scam artists were from Nigeria, therefore they were Nigerian), this scam was very different from the typical "Nigerian Prince" scam. It sounds like they were just running a fake online car dealership, and got two people to pay for a car based on pictures on the internet.

    ...it makes one wonder how these folks ever got the nerve to go to the police with this matter

    If you're talking about the scam artists, they didn't. The article makes it very clear that it was the people who tried to buy cars who went to the police, which is why the Australian woman is the only one on trial--she's the only one who was in the local jurisdiction.

    ... why so many of these scams originate from this area.

    It's possible that there are a bunch of fake online car dealerships originating in Nigeria, but I think it's more likely that the author of the summary thinks this is about a Nigerian Scam [wikipedia.org]. If they had actually read the article, they wouldn't be making that mistake. I understand that slashdot is all about not reading the article, but is it too much to ask that submitters read the articles they submit?

  • She took money they would have stolen and kept it for herself. She's no better than they are.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:34PM (#39140905)

    This works as follows: People buy something which never gets delivered. Money from the sale goes to a finance agent (the woman in this case) and then is transferred to the criminals with Western Union or some other money laundering service. The finance agent will always be the one that takes the fall. The difference here is that this woman was actually guilty, not just naive.

    So, no, she did not take the money from the Nigerian criminals, she took their place in the scam. And yes, I hope she gets punished for that.

  • No one's mentioned 419eater.com yet? Usually any popular site tangentially related to a story gets posted fairly quickly.

    Personally I'd prefer to steal $33k from them, rather than make the pose naked with a stupid sign.

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