22 July :Instances of many Indians getting cheated by fraudsters based in Nigeria have come to notice. The victims of such frauds have lost money, suffered physical harm and death etc. The fraudsters operate through countries in West Africa like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Senegal and Burkina Faso.
This scam usually begins in the form of an e-mail sent to many target recipients making offer of attractive payoffs, while forging local Ministry’s letterheads. If the victim agrees to the deal, the fraudster will send one or more false documents bearing official government stamps, and seals. These scamsters often mention false addresses and use photographs taken from the internet or from magazines to falsely represent themselves. Subsequently, they project some transaction costs to be paid by the victims, always keeping the promise of an imminent large transfer of money. The fraudsters keep convincing the victim that the money they are currently paying will be covered several times over by the payoff.
Many operations are professionally organized in Nigeria, with offices in neighboring countries having fax numbers and other contact details of local government offices. Such fraudster can often lure wealthy investors, investment groups, or other business entities into scams resulting in multi-million dollar losses. There are other fraudsters who are part of less organized gangs or are operating independently. Even they are able to convince gullible middle-class individuals and small businesses, and can milk hundreds of thousands of dollars from such victims.
By the time the victim realizes that there is no money in store for him anywhere, he may have sent thousands, even millions of dollars of his own/borrowed money to the fraudster via an untraceable or irreversible means such as wire transfer.
During the courses of many schemes, fraudsters ask victims to supply bank account information. Fraudsters often request that payments be made using a wire transfer service like Western Union and Moneygram. The real reason is that wire transfers and similar methods of payment are irreversible and untraceable. Telephone numbers used by fraudsters tend to come from mobile phones. Such phones are changed once these are traced.
The Indian mission in Ivory Coast has cautioned against such anti-social and criminal gangs so that innocent Indians may not be hoodwinked into losing their life and savings/livelihood in the most unsuspecting treacherous means.