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  Cyberspace is the Wild, Wild West of the 21st Century 
And There Is No Marshal On Duty

The Harsh Facts About Nigerian Fraud

 
  A stranger is not going to send you a check for more than you are owed for whatever service or product you are providing
  and then trust you to cash the check and send back the difference.   Nor are they going to send you a check to run through
  your checking account and then tell you to keep a percentage of the funds for your trouble.

 This is a scam that started years ago on a small scale and has exploded internationally via the Internet.  The checks are
 counterfeit and the thief is hoping that neither you nor your bank will notice until you have wired the thief's share to
an
 anonymous location in (usually) a foreign country. 

 If you deposit one of these counterfeit checks into your checking account, it is you who could be charged criminally for
 receiving a forged  financial instrument.   It is happening right now throughout the U.S.  If you withdrew money from your
 account that was backed by a counterfeit check, your bank will require you to pay it back just as they would for a bounced
 check.

 This scam has recently taken on a new disguise - romance.  Victims are now being lured with love instead of a business
 proposition and this ploy is working so well that it seems to have eclipsed all Nigerians cons.  If you are the victim of a
 Nigerian romance scam that involved money sent by you to the scammer or funds received from the scammer as counterfeit
 cashier's checks or money orders or funds wired to you or transferred to your bank account, you will want to join the
Yahoo
 Message Board, "Romance Scams" where victims share specific information about scammers and discuss reform measures.
 You can also view some of the 
databases published on the Internet that show the phony photos, e-mail addresses and phone 
 numbers of known scammers. 

 For information about Nigerian fraud as well as advice for reporting the fraud, read the information below.

REPORT NIGERIAN FRAUD BUT DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH

NEWS ALERTS:

Nigerian 419 Fraudster Sentenced to 6 Years for Defrauding Egyptian General Out of over $500,000

Advanced Fee Fraud Ring Uncovered In Lagos, Nigeria; More than 15,000 Counterfeit Checks Intercepted; Major Cross-Country
Investigation Will Be Opened
- 9/6/2007 - Even the Pros Will Eventually Be Caught If Victims Continue to Report the Crime

8 Nigerians Arrested for 419 Advanced Fee Internet Scams - 3/19/07 -  More Good News for Fraud Victims

Nigeria Bans Night Browsing at Cyber Cafes to Help Reduce Fraud
-   8/06 - Keep reporting fraud.  Nigeria is finally listening.

Army Criminal Investigation Command Warns of Growing Internet-Based Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud.

India's Best Known Consumer Activist Taken by Nigerian 419 Fraud - 11/23/06

Man Looking for Love on the Internet Found Nigerian Con Artist Instead


Nigeria is out of the legal jurisdiction of the U. S. and there is little that the U.S. Government can do to investigate a crime that originates there or in Russia or in Indonesia or in any other foreign country.  Generally, the dollar amounts lost in these individual scams are so far below the unofficial six-digit threshold of federal law enforcement agencies that it is virtually impossible for a victim to obtain justice for their single fraud.  Since the average fraud case involves the analysis of over
500,000 e-mails and electronic documents, it is not difficult to understand why law enforcement restricts fraud investigations to cases involving high dollar losses.

However, this will not last forever.  Eventually, as with the wild, wild West, the public will eventually have enough and public pressure on politicians who fund law enforcement agencies will bring about reform.  In the meantime, it is important that you report your fraud to the proper agencies so that the specifics of your case can be added to their databases and to the crime statistics.   As the number of fraud reports increases, so will interest in the issue by those who can influence legislation and funding.  Additionally, the more cases filed against a single thief, the greater the chances are that an investigation may be initiated.

Unfortunately, there is no single agency for filing an Internet fraud report.  So, it is important that you report the fraud to all the agencies that handle this kind of crime.  The agencies listed below are where you should begin for Nigerian scams.

If you are really distressed by the deficiencies in the U.S. criminal justice system that are making it possible for this type of crime to propagate, you should tell your legislators - all of them.   They will eventually send in the cavalry when enough
victims demand it.  You can help expedite this reform by sending the
CUFF database letter to your legislators to recommend a single federal form for reporting Internet fraud.

You can also contact your local bank and urge them to
place a warning about counterfeit checks at all tellers' windows to protect uninformed customers and to protect the bank from losses that are resulting from the victims' inability to repay the lost funds.  Western Union recently began advising its customers of the potential for fraud in wire transfers: Western Union announced in November 2005 that it will begin to post prominent warnings to its customers about the use of wire transfers in telemarketing fraud.

Wire Transfer Fraud Warning from Western Union:  Western Union in the U.K., in coordination with the Metropolitan Police, is now providing their customers with this disclosure statement regarding the potential for fraud when wiring money to unknown recipients.

     WHERE TO REPORT FRAUD:
     U.S.
    
    *Looks Too Good To Be True.com  - U.S. Federal Government Site Listing Federal Fraud Reporting Agencies
    *Internet Crime Complaint Center - Operated in coordination with the FBI 
    *Consumer Sentinel -  Fraud Reporting Agency Sponsored by National and International Law Enforcement Agencies
   *U.S. Secret Service - 4-1-9 Fraud Information and Contact Links
   *NIGERIAN SCAMS - Nigerian scam solicitations that come by e-mail should be forwarded to the FTC at uce@ftc.gov.
    CANADA
   

    *CANADIAN VICTIMS - Report fraud in Canada to Phonebusters.com
    *lagos@dfait.gc.ca  - E-Mail of Canadian High Commission in Ottawa which has an office in Lagos, Nigeria
     UNITED KINGDOM
     
     *UNITED KINGDOM VICTIMS - Report fraud to Scotland Yard
     NIGERIA
    
     *Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) - Report fraud in Nigeria for loss cases only
      *U.S. Embassy in Nigeria
       * Address, Phone Number and Web Site Form for Contacting Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
     INTERNET PROVIDERS   

   
*Report the scammer to the service providers of their E-mail account, Web site and phone.  If you met the scammer on
       a dating site, auction site or message board, contact their customer service department or Web master and provide
       the scammer's e-mails, if requested, to verify your complaint.


      Make copies of the e-mail you received and send it to the phone company if a phone number has been included in any 
      of the scammer's e-mails. 

      Forward the e-mail containing the scam solicitation to the e-mail address designated for abuse by the scammer's 
      Web site provider and/or e-mail provider.  Include the full message headers in the scammer's e-mail.  Consult the Help
      section available in your e-mail program to determine how to view full message headers.  TIP: Most Internet service
      providers use a standard e-mail address for reporting scams:
"abuse@"URL.com (URL.com represents the name of the
      Web site address such as hotmail.com, earthlink.net, yahoo.com, etc.

     
Include a note at the top of the forwarded e-mail which advises the provider that you received the fraudulent 
      solicitation from the scammer via the provider's e-mail service and you expect them to promptly close the scammer's
      e-mail account.  Do the same for the scammer's Web site provider if such a Web site exists.  

 
    If you are able to close down the e-mail of a Nigerian scammer, you will be protecting other victims who may be in
      the process of sending their money to the scammer.  If the victim can no longer contact the scammer by e-mail, there
      will be no way for the victim to follow through with the payment.  Eventually this process will choke out the majority of
      the amateurs and make it more practical for federal law enforcement to track down the pros.

      Need help figuring out who the e-mail or Web host provider is?  Forward the 419 letter to CUFF at
      mail@straightshooter.net .
    LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT

   *
A police report should also be filed with your local jurisdiction.  They may refer you to the U.S. Secret Service or FBI. 
     However, it is important that you have a copy of a police report in order to file for a loss on your income taxes.
BEING CHARGED CRIMINALLY AS THE VICTIM

   If you are charged criminally after depositing an unknown counterfeit check into your checking account, you are not alone.  More and more victims across the U.S. are being charged criminally for their gullibility in receiving checks sent by strangers they met on the Internet.  If this happens to you, you will need an attorney who understands the full operation behind a Nigerian Scam.  Do not think the charges will be dropped if you just explain yourself to the judge.  Do not think you are not being viewed as a criminal by the police, the D.A. and even your attorney if the person is not familiar with this kind of scam.  You must take this seriously, get an attorney and contact fraudaid.com for guidance on the steps to follow to justice.

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE THIEF

     If you are not sure where the thief lives and you want to research it in order to provide law enforcement with the information, CUFF will research it for you for $59.00.  To order a search, complete the Fraud Report form This research will benefit you and the community - if law enforcement chooses to investigate it.  Unfortunately, the current U.S. criminal justice system is overloaded with drug-related and violent crimes and minimal resources are being allocated to fraud that does not meet a minimum financial threshold.  If this situation is unacceptable to you, contact your legislators and tell them that you expect all crimes to be investigated and are willing for your tax dollars to be redirected from other less important programs. 

 
  You should still file a police report and report the crime to the federal agencies noted above, even if your case is not investigated.  Fraud is the most under-reported of all crimes because the victims feel embarrassment for their "willing" participation.  This is one of the reasons that it is not investigated with the kind of vigor that would eventually make a difference.  You should report your crime even if it is only added to the crime statistics.  Eventually, legislators and law enforcement will recognize that it is has reached an epidemic level and will begin to take it seriously. 

   One way to simplify the investigation process is for the federal government to have a single Internet fraud reporting form rather than the multiple Web sites and forms that now exist.
  Send the CUFF database letter to your legislators urging them to make it easier to collect and coordinate information submitted by victims of fraud, including counterfeit checks and Nigerian scams.  The easier the collection process is the easier it will be to identify the criminals for prosecution

WHERE TO GO FOR MORE HELP AND INFORMATION
    E-MAILS, PHONE NUMBERS AND PHOTOS OF KNOWN SCAMMERS:  
         Searchable Database of E-Mails and Phone Numbers Used by Scammers  
       
 
Romance Scam.com - Publishes Phony Photos Being Used by Internet Sweetheart Scammers
            Nigerian Scam Letter Database
        
419 Scams - Lists Known Scammers Names, Banks, E-mails
    Yahoo Message Board for Victims of Nigerian Scams - Register, Then Go To "Romance Scams"
     Step-by-step instructions on how to write an effective fraud report.
    How to verify a cashier's check and money order
    What is a Nigerian 419 Letter?
    Nigeria - The 419 Coalition Web site
    419 Legal - Reports e-mails, phone numbers and Web sites of scammers to service providers
    Advice from PayPal: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Fraudulent E-Mails
    Beware of Checks Written on Internet Check-writing Services 
    Department of Justice - Internet Fraud Information
GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK

       When you lose money through an Internet scam, the chances of getting your money back are akin to getting your television back after an unknown burglar steals it from your home while you are away on vacation.  It happens only in the rarest of circumstances and what happened to this victim is typical: Good Samaritan Loses $18,000 in Nigerian Scam.  However, you do have some options if any of the people involved in a crime ring that defrauded you lives in the U.S.

       First, you can pursue criminal charges through the proper agency, and if this happens and the thief is convicted, you can ask for restitution as part of the sentencing.  Depending on the state and county, the thief may remain on probation until the money is repaid.

      Second, you can sue the person in court in order to obtain a civil judgment.  This judgment will allow you to have the thief's personal property seized, his bank account levied and his paycheck garnisheed.  This is a very good option if the thief is employed and has assets.  Unfortunately, the majority of the people who scam do not have stable employment or assets.

      However, it you obtain a judgment against someone, you can hand it over to a judgment recovery specialist, which is a collector who goes after judgment debtors.  This person will have a financial motivation to find your money, and the fee you pay, which is generally 30% to 50% of the money collected, may be worth it.  50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.  AND you will have obtained justice because the thief will have had to give back the stolen money.

     An additional disadvantage of suing civilly is that a judgment is only valid in the county and/or state where it was issued.  In order for it to be recognized in another county and/or state, it must be filed as a foreign judgment.  Often this means the case must be heard by a judge in the county where it is being filed as a foreign judgment.  If it was a default judgment, the chances are even better that the count will not rubber stamp it without hearing the case.  

    
You should also be aware of some fraudulent private investigation firms advertising on the Internet to help victims recover losses from these scams.  If you believe an agency is legitimate, send CUFF an e-mail with the company's name, location and Web site and we will research the company and advise you of our findings.  One of these companies that has already taken multiple victims is Burst Securities, Inc. in Nigeria.  The name provided for the owner is James Okechukwu Okafor.  The address provided is 23b Isiaku Street; Emene, Enugu State, Nigeria.  

     To see an overview of what is available to a plaintiff in a small claims court suit, go to CUFF's Get Even Legally Page.

      If you don't believe the criminal justice system is equipped to handle the growing epidemic of fraud, join CUFF, America's fastest growing grassroots anti-fraud movement that is working to change the laws and social attitude which have contributed to the laxity in prosecution.  

     Review the links and information above and if you feel you still need additional help or have questions, contact CUFF in the
Contact form.  Do not e-mail us as we may not open an e-mail if we do not recognize the sender.