Want to be a cyber-donkey? Romance a Nigerian crime gang

28 October 2008

I once sold a laptop on eBay. Got a reasonable bid, but was then offered a very sweet price from a respectable gentleman in Nigeria who wanted the computer for his son. I needed the money and couldn't believe my luck. I almost sent it too, but the deal fell apart when I started looking into the money order receipt. It didn't seem to exist.

I was very nearly another sucker, courtesy of our friends on the African continent. That was half a decade ago; nobody falls for that scam now, do they? Surely there can't be a Nigerian man, woman or child who hasn't worn a fish on their head?

But organised crime in Africa is still raking in the goods from the gullible, according to ITV's Tonight programme, because they've adapted their techniques. Instead of trying to swindle a victim directly, they're now using 'mules'; innocent parties who unknowingly handle the stolen goods on their behalf.

The mules are recruited through fake job adverts, websites and dating sites. The victims are befriended, and are soon handling high value parcels that they send on to addresses in the likes of Nigeria and Ghana. Passing the goods through the mule creates a longer paper trail while minimising the risk of exposure; fewer sellers are going to twig that there's a problem if the mailing address is in the UK. The contents of the parcels have usually been bought online using stolen credit card details, before being delivered to the third party mule.

So all in all, instead of preying on just one individual - the eBay seller or the like - there are now three victims - the owner of the stolen credit card information, the seller and the mule. While it seems unbelievable that people are still vulnerable to this type of fraud, plenty of folks are still new to the wonders of the online world; you don't get a crash course in scams when you buy your first broadband package.

[The Register]

TOPICS:   Scams

3 comments

  • lam
    And don't forget the NEW scam "they" are doing now, as seen on Watchdog last night. It may sound confusing but in actual fact it's pretty clever for once. They use GumTree ( oh yes! as seen here on bitterwallet before - a handy place for scammers to find their victims ) by placing an advert for a very nice flat to rent in London. You reply and get an email back giving you details about the flat. Now this is where they grab your trust. They DON'T want ANY money upfront. What they do want you to do is use Western Union to transfer some money to someone you know, like a friend or family member, or even yourself. This is so they can see you are interested in the flat and have the funds to pay the rent. You must then scan and email a copy of the Western Union receipt to them. And that is the scam. As soon as they get that email, they use it to go to Western Union anywhere in the world and grab those funds quick - because they have the money transfer details. Confused? read in detail how it's done here http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2008/10/flathunters_transfer_trap.html
  • Vince W.
    Thanks Iam! We actually already covered this in the most common Gumtree scams here: http://www.bitterwallet.com/how-to-beat-the-scammers-on-gumtree/199 :)
  • mustafa S.
    yea! lol, this nearly happened to me.. also half a decade ago. I was selling a digital camera on Amazon, next thing i know, i 'recieved' a payment of £176! (camera not worth more than £99) so i was shocked and overwhelmed... but something was really fishy because i couldn't track down the payment at all! i reported the user etc etc.. lucky i didnt send it off straight :P

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