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How Fraud Gangs Operate

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Joined: 12 Nov 2004, 5:47
Posts: 231
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Sun 05 Dec 2004 06:39    Post subject: How Fraud Gangs Operate Reply with quote

If you're not familiar with 419 fraud, you may think an Internet scammer is just one man in an Internet Cafe, trying his luck with a cheeky grin and a letter he scribbled down in 5 minutes. In reality, the majority of successful 419 Fraudsters are part of international organised crime.
Most of the gangs originate from Nigeria. Estimates vary from 150,000 - 250,000 scammers involved in Internet Fraud.
Many of them use email harvesting software to steal email addresses from websites. They then send millions of scam letters to people around the world. The letters themselves are based on successful templates that are written by a smaller number of University-educated scammers.

The templates used by scammers are circulated amongst the gangs and are known as "formats", since each scam letter adopts a particular style. A scam featuring a widow of an assassinated dicator is one format. A scam featuring a dying man who wants to donate his fortune before he dies is another. Some formats play on sympathy by claiming to be gathering money for a church fund or to help sick children.

Fraud gangs organise into different groups and they specialise in particular types of scams. These types of scams are known as "levels". The "levels" hierarchy features a crime boss at the highest level and a scam worker at the lowest level. In a standard 419 advance fee fraud there may be 3 levels. (Though there are other levels.)

The 1st level is the "format level" - these are usually the scam workers whose job it is to "catch" the replies from anyone who makes the mistake of believing in a scam letter. They will also respond to the victim's first reply as a way to gather more information. Part of their job is to try to find out whether a victim is potentially a high payer or a low payer. These worker scammers usually pretend to be Barristers so as to appear trustworthy.
Email accounts dubbed "catchers" are opened by these scammers for this purpose. Their only function is to act as a collection point for replies to scams... much like fishing nets.

The 2nd level is the "bank level", the scammer from the first level will instruct the victim that he needs to contact "the bank" to progress his claim to the fortune. The bank level is staffed by better educated scammers, frequently European based. Their job is to persuade the victim that they need to open an account in order to receive their fortune. This account could be at a fake bank website or simply a fictional account. The "bankers" will demand proof of identity which allows them to harvest personal details which can be used in identity theft or fraud related to fake credit card purchases. You see the gangs often run multiple types of fraud at the same time. The bankers often ask for scans of passports, drivers licences, social security numbers and credit card details. Many victims happily supply any and all personal information requested. The bankers will also demand a fee to pay for opening the account, usually in the thousands of dollars. Once the bank fee has been paid, the bankers pass the victims to the third level.

The 3rd level is the "security company". They usually outsource this role to fellow scammers who operate from a foreign country.
An agreement is made between the scammers to divide the money taken from the victim. This split is usually on a 50/50 or 60/40 basis... though 70/30 is not uncommon. The largest share goes to the 2nd or 3rd level, rather than the scam worker who originally "harvested" the victim.

The 3rd level security companies usually operate from London, Amsterdam, Madrid or Toronto. Their job is to convince the victim to travel to a foreign country to "take delivery of the consignment". The reason it must be a foreign country is to complicate the jurisdictional issues relating to police forces, and to disorient the victim by taking him out of his native environment. Typically, the victim will have travelled to the foreign country for only a few days or a week. This reduces the amount of time they have to search for the fraudster if they should ever wake up to what is really happening.

The "security company" has the role of discussing the mythical "consignment". This fictional consignment is the fictional cash amount or "treasure" that the victim expects to receive.

This is where the "wash-wash" scam is used. Typically, a box full of what appears to be American dollars is shown to the victim. This money is blackened with a chemical to disguise the fact that only the top layer is real. The rest is blank paper cut to the same size & shape as dollar bills. The victim is told he will need to purchase a special chemical to remove the ink and thus make his "money" spendable. The scammers then charge a fortune for the special chemical. The victim pays and the scammers disappear never to be seen again by the victim.

In another twist, the victim pays and when the chemical doesn't work, the scammers launch a fake investigation into their own scam and charge the victim ongoing fees to fund their fake investigation... eventually claiming fake arrests and fake overhauls of their companies to reassure the victim that everything's back on track... Reassured, the victim starts paying again.

That just leaves the boss scammer to talk about... sometimes called "Chairman" or "Oga". Obviously he's in charge and allocates "jobs" to each format level scammer - known as a "Guyman" or "Guy".
A "job" is their name for a scam that has hooked a victim who needs to be "worked". The boss also distributes "formats" to each Guyman and there is often specialisation - especially in the area of cheque fraud. eg. One guyman might be better at sending fake checks to automotive dealers, while another targets art dealers.

The boss scammer will coordinate the scams amd urge the scam workers to meet his deadlines. He decides how the takings are divided up. Sometimes the boss will "sit" the victim. Sitting means talking to them on the phone and using his powers of persuasion to build a rapport and encourage continued payments to be made. The boss will be more eloquent and skilled in improvisation. Sometimes a less talented guyman will appeal to the boss to make a phone call if they have a victim who's showing signs of waking up to what's really happening. The boss then smoothes things over.

The goal of all such scams is to ensure a regular income from the victim by getting him to pay and pay and pay... over a period of several years or more. At every stage of the levels I mentioned, fictional delays and hitches are introduced by the scammers, which can only be resolved by yet another victim payment. When the victim's money runs out, the scammers vanish. Each gang will have half a dozen or more victims being put through this process at any given time. This figure varies and may be much higer or lower, depending on how successful they are.

The larger gangs will run check fraud, advance fee fraud and lottery fraud at the same time. In each fraud, a number of gang members become "actors" in that they play the roles of apparently unrelated individuals... assuming names and identities as the need arises. The aim is to weave a convincing illusion where each "actor" supports what is said by the others in the scam. In this way, the victim is tricked into thinking progress is being made - and will continue to pay the fees put in front of them.

Sometimes the victim will argue that they cannot make a payment... but the scammers show no mercy and demand their fees be paid.
The cold-blooded way these gangs will take every last dollar from someone, regardless of how it may ruin them, is also typical.

After a period of six months to a year, wealthy ex-victims are often contacted by the same scammers. The scammers call these victims "old jobs". Their plan is to convince the victim that they are investigating the ones who originally cheated the victims... and thus begins another round of fake fees relating to this ongoing "investigation" by the same criminals.
When they become desperate, scammers will sometimes threaten victims with violence or say they will report a victim to the law. These are empty threats, since scammers are generally cowardly, but some victims will feel intimidated enough to continue the payments.

If you now ask yourself, who you can trust, the answer is quite simple: never trust anyone that offers you a large reward in return for a comparatively "small" fee. We here at Scampatrol will help you to the best of our ability, and we will NEVER ask you for any money.

Last edited by frodo on Tue 07 Dec 2004 10:07; edited 2 times in total
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Joined: 04 Feb 2006, 21:40
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Feb 2006 21:00    Post subject: Wash-wash scam Reply with quote

There are currently a number of US Citizens being taken for tens of thousands of dollars in wash-wash scams; they live in and around the Denver area. A box of money was delivered to their room one night (scammers always deliver at night when the victim can't keep the money other than in their hotel room) and it was pointed out that the funds were "marked." The scammers told the guy in the room that he had better not get caught with the marked money, and that they would "clean it for him. They took the box with them and then the cleaning bills started to arrive. Unbelievable, the guy and his partners are still willing to pay the cleaning company another $35,000 to clean $4.5 million. The Feds should pass a law making it illegal for a US Citizen to pay these Nigerian scammers, then the rip-offs might be less frequent.
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Victim Support

Joined: 18 Jan 2005, 23:40
Posts: 100
Location: GMT

PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb 2006 10:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you know a victim of one of these scams please pass on their personal details via a Private Message. One of our victim warning teams can try and persuade them its a scam.
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Old Coaster
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Joined: 10 Nov 2004, 9:50
Posts: 123
Location: Usually Europe

PostPosted: Fri 10 Feb 2006 12:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caddell. Firstly, not all scammers are Nigerians. Indeed, Europe has its fair share of home grown ones largely emanating from Eastern Europe.

Secondly, anyone falling for a wash-wash scam must know that the origin of the money is very dubious and by accepting it they are already breaking US money-laundering regulations and depending on the story, they may also be involved in a criminal conspiracy to defraud.

I very much doubt that passing another piece of federal legislation will make any difference to people who are blinded to reality by their greed.

What such legislation will do is make it even harder for legitimate Nigerian Businessmen to do business in the United States so it will become harder than ever to deal with the scammers.
la terre n'est qu'un seul pays
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