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2012 Update

In checking links throughout my website, I just discovered that the link to the second page of reader reports has been bad for two years. Now fixed, with apologies. Also note that I've added one more new report, this one from Australia. 

I regret that my time no longer allows for posting additional information on this or other scam-related topics I've discussed here and in earlier articles. Thanks for not bothering me with email requests to "check out" this or that individual. I simply posted this information initially to alert others to the problem. Now, many others on the Web are addressing this and related topics in detail. Thanks.

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See also these related articles:

More Reports from Readers Who Have Been Targeted by Nigerian Con Artists

Caught in the Middle! The Plight of Relay Telephone Operators Nationwide

Counterfeit Money Orders and Credit Cards That Seem Okay

Ship-to Names and Addresses Being Used by Nigerian Scammers

Nigerian Bible Scam

Duped by a Pen Pal in Africa—A New Kind of Merchandise Scam

A report from a  Ghanian in the U.S.

"Hello Barbara, I love arts and crafts and just stumbled upon your website. I find it very resourceful and I intend to visit often. I have just read with lots of interest your articles on Nigerian scams. I was however a bit upset with the one in which you concluded by tagging Ghana with Nigeria. I am a Ghanaian living in the U.S. and I am very concerned about this. Scams exist everywhere including the United States, much to my surprise. I need to clarify however, that Ghanaians DO NOT have a penchant for such nefarious activities perpetuated by some Nigerians and popularly called 419, made easier by the Internet. As a matter fact, the Ghana Police is fully aware that these 419 crooks have extended their activities to Ghana and are seriously combating them. Every Ghanaian businessperson is wary and 'scared stiff'' of them. The penpal scam story on your site is just another type of 419 case and, believe you me, it is the SAME crooks posing as Ghanaians as a means to avoid detection. We generally have a good name so please leave us out of that mess. Thanks for listening." - Kwes Sewk

 

 

 

 

 

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by Barbara Brabec
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Nigerian Scams on the Rise!

by Barbara Brabec

You stand to lose BIG if you fall for one of these ruses. Following are the first reports I received on this scam in 2005. If you've already read these reports, click HERE for a page of several new reports. This scam is not just being tried against small craft and homebased businesses, but bookstores and other retail outlets, manufacturing companies, even individual sellers on eBay. Be aware!

A Report from Joan Green
A Report from Jennifer Davis
A Report from Patricia Banker
Variation-on-a-Theme Report from Frank Gosar
A Report from a Christian Bookstore Owner

Report from R. Ward (Australia)

Following are the first series of reports received from homebased businesses on the Web who almost became victims of the Nigerian scam artists. This scam always begins with someone overseas who says they want to place an order (sometimes large, sometimes small) for one or more products advertised on a company's Web site. What the con artists are really trying to do, however (besides order with stolen credit cards), is get the business owner to go out and buy other merchandise for them and ship it along with the ordered merchandise.

The following reports from my readers will give you a better idea of the specific ways in which these scammers operate, and the kind of e-mails they send. Note that some are very poorly written with many errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation, while others look very professional.

Small craft and home businesses, as well as Christian retailers, seem to be a major target now, but anyone who sells merchandise on the Web is apt to be approached. This article includes links for more information and where to report suspicious activity.

If you know anyone who needs this information, please link them to this Web page.

A report from Joan Green,JoanGreenDesigns.com: "In the space of one week, I received three very suspicious inquiries from Lagos, Nigeria--all of them wanting to order kits, pattern packs and some yarn. They ordered in quantities as if they were buying for shops, but none asked for wholesale prices. The last fellow actually said he was an international businessman and was in Nigeria to open up a new store and learn more about the African way of life. All of these people said they saw the things on my site, but instead of just placing an order there, they e-mailed me to ask how much the order would be with air-mail shipping, and said they would provide me with a credit card number when they had this information.

"Before I figured out this whole thing was a scam, I wasted a lot of time figuring out shipping  costs via different methods and for different weights. One woman insisted on UPS shipment even though it came out to about four times what air mail shipment would have been. While I was wondering about all this, a woman at the bank told my husband that they had been having trouble with credit cards from Nigeria. But I figured if I keyed in their card numbers on my machine, and the cards were not declined, they should be good. (I didn't know then that the cards being used by these scammers have been stolen in the first place.)"

Fortunately, Joan contacted me before shipping any of these orders, and a little while later, she told me the rest of the story. "After quoting shipping prices to all three buyers, ALL THREE of them asked me to go out and buy Nokia phones and add that to their orders! Yeah, right!"

A report from artist Jennifer Davis

"I received a strange email this morning that resembles the one discussed in your newsletter. When I tried to search for information about the sender of the e-mail, your warning was the only thing I found. Thank you so much for posting it. I am including the e-mail below for your information."

Sir/Madam,

Good day to you. I am a Business woman who owns and operate a Gallery in United Kingdom, with a new branch in Nigeria. I have got the list of what to Order for, presently I'm in the United Kingdom on a business trip, I will like you to give me the Shipping Cost to Nigeria for the below listed items and how long it will take this goods to arrive in my new branch Gallery in Nigeria:

Paintings: This goods are needed urgently in my Gallery. Reply as soon as possible and let me know the Total cost for the items listed above plus the Shipping and Handling cost including the tax, I will be paying you with credit card and also the shipping should be via UPS 3-5Days shipment. I shall be waiting to read from you as soon as possible.- Best regards,

Mrs. Tonia Kluivert, Managing Director
Tonia Paintings Gallery:
33, Nightingale Vale,
Woolwich Common,
London.
SE18 4EN.
Tel: +44-870-167-0418
E-mail: tonia_kluivert at hotmail.com

Tonia Paintings Gallery:
34, Ojekunle Street,
Papa Ajao Mushin
Lagos State. Nigeria. 23401.
E-mail: tonia_kluivert at yahoo.co.uk

Ed. Note: Notice how much contact information has been provided here to make the order look legitimate? But when one seller took the time to really check out the contact information, she found that the telephone number was not active and, although the address existed, there was no store there.

Variation-on-a-Theme Report from Frank Gosar:

Following is an interesting variation of the same scam--different person, same unusual address--as reported by ceramicist Frank Gosar, who writes: "Thanks for the heads-up about Nigerian credit card scams, and especially for including complete message texts. I got the message below today; I get these fairly often, especially around Christmas, but the wording of this one seemed slightly fishy (I think it was the non-specificity--I have five different kinds of 'Animal Handled Mugs'.)

"In any event, I Googled 'Ojekunle Papa Ajao' and came up with your Web page. As you'll note, they've changed their story a little since word has gotten out. 'Dennis' is no longer claiming to be an African businessman, nor is he buying wholesale quantities; just a nice guy wanting to send a present, FedEx, to his wife . . . at a notorious address in Nigeria. 

Hello
I have visited your website and i am impressed by the beautiful collection you have there. I want to purchase this particular piece for my wife's birthday: Animal-handled mugs

Get back to me with the total cost and the shipping cost via Fedex delivery to this address:

24,Ojekunle Papa Ajao
Mushin
Lagos State
Nigeria
23401

I look forward to hearing from you,. so you can have my credit card charge into your account for the payment.
Best Regards
Dennis

A report from Patricia Banker, SaintsPreserved:

"The Nigerians are still at it and this time I almost fell for it (and I consider myself pretty savvy, even cynical). They are now targeting Christian retail sites and artists. When I got an e-mail order for over $1500 a few days ago, I was skeptical, but I always believe in giving the benefit of the doubt. 'Roseline' told me she has a shop and needs my products 'urgently' and would pay me with her credit card immediately. A few things just didn't seem right, but I blamed it on the language gap. At first I figured I had nothing to lose if I got a guaranteed pick-up receipt from the USPS. My merchant account screens and approves all transactions, so even if it wasn't a valid card, I figured I would be protected since I wouldn't ship until it went through. But first, I did a search for the latest Nigerian scams and I found some interesting things.

"For one thing, they keep changing credit card numbers by one digit till they hit one that works. Bingo! Once they know it's a good one, they use it for all it's worth. There are also other ways this scam works. (Note that it isn't always a Nigerian shipping address; sometimes the shipping address is in the States."

Later, Patricia wrote to say that she had decided to string 'Roseline Cambell' on a bit, thinking she would report everything to her merchant account company as soon as an attempt was made to use the card. So she wrote back, saying:

Dear Roseline: I have calculated the postage and it will be $135.00, plus $12.50 for confirmation (5-10 days air). I will apply the 40% discount to your credit card before I charge your account. The easiest way is to go to this link: http://store.yahoo.com/stmaker/ancurcol.html and order them from there. For security reasons, I do not take credit card orders via e-mail. If you wish to place it via phone, please call 248.219.2693 anytime. Western Union transfers are fine and I will give you an additional 1% discount. I am very curious about your store. What is the name and what do you sell? Sincerely, Patricia

And here's the reply Patricia received (errors and all):

Hello, thanks for your response.please i need your help.i willbe getting married very soon and my inlaws are coming from a far away states and i will like to offer them a very good and admirable camera phone.please i want you to help me get the prices of the 5 units of any of the camera phone listed below: samsungE715 sony erisson Z600 nokia 7200 and samsung VGA1000 i will be expecting the price quotes as soon as possible. kindest regards, roseline cambell

As Patricia was mulling over this last message, she was on hold on her phone with a relay service for the deaf. Who should it be from but Roseline Cambell. Fortunately, Patricia had also learned that these crooks are now using the legitimate relay service for a free phone call and to disguise themselves (see link below). "The more I learn about all this, the more furious I get," she told me. "I hope the reason 'Roseline' was so persistent was that she/he hasn't had any bites from anyone else lately. Anyway, the call faded out after 15 minutes."

Report from a Christian Bookstore Owner:

"I wish I had read your article sooner and I'd be $1500 richer," writes Karen U, who was duped by two men from Nigeria. "I own a small Christian bookstore and was foolish enough or greedy enough to send goods from my store to the cheats. We Christians are either very trusting or very stupid. We heard about the scam just before we sent another box. A saleswoman came to the store and wondered why we had our phone tied up for so long. Yes, you guessed it. It was the relay phone messages from a man in Nigeria. She told us about a small bookstore owner she knew who had lost big time to the same type of bums. Now we are smarter and less trusting, I hope, and will check out things more carefully next time. We did call the banks and found the credit card numbers were not valid. Why did we not do that first?? Poor thinking! How can this message be gotten out across the country. This needs to be told!"

Report from R. Ward, Australia:

"Thank you for your interesting and informative article. I have in the past received so many of these email requests, I usually delete them straightaway but nearly got taken in by one today because I think they are getting a bit smarter! I know they usually try to copy standard English speaking names/titles like Dr Richard ... Father Thomas ,,, Bill Smith, etc. My exchange was from Debbie Jones, who said she was visiting Australia for a two-week seminar; wanted to order $1500 dollars’ worth of specific candles to be shipped to an address in Poland, and needed them to ship by  Wednesday to be picked up by a courier. After several emails it transpired that “Debbie” couldn’t talk on the telephone because she was “deaf” (now, that was a new one for me – thank you for pointing that out in your article). Despite the size of the order in a declining retail economic environment, suspicion was paramount. His/her emails were coming via an AOL account and he/she would have had to spend a fair amount of time on our website to itemise the various items. Sure enough, checking on our statcounter.com report for today, there were two AOL hits, both over an hour and emanating from – you guessed it – Lagos. I will in future be checking hits from Nigeria, just to see how many “enquiries” eventuate. Thank you and your contributors for explaining how the scam actually works (phones, cameras, etc). I had wondered."

"I remember several years ago sending on a similar scam email request for vast quantities of olive oil to a local boutique (West Australian) olive oil producer who must have thought all their heavens had arrived and might have supplied (afterwards felt incredible guilty). I wasn’t aware at the time how the scam worked – that is why your articles on the subject are so important, particularly as they feature well on Google Search."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

According to one article I found (on a site no longer up), Christian retailers are continuing to be hit with scams requesting big orders in quantity or price and inviting them to participate in transferring funds into their U.S. bank accounts. Some even involve sending checks to prepay for goods. .

Final Thoughts . . . If you're doing business on the Web, or merely Web surfing, you simply MUST develop a suspicious nature and not automatically trust everyone, especially someone from Nigeria or Ghana (see left) who is trying to place a large order.

[To part II of this article series]

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