International Bank Transfer Fraud
As you are aware the internet stretches to every corner of the world and on the internet you have people who find opportunity in the form of Fraud (Lying & Cheating) the many good online businesses using the internet to conduct their international business using any and all means available to them.
These criminals - commonly called Scammers - use forged documents from banks, forged/fake cheques, fake identity and passports, and of course use the internet sites posing as potential buyers to receive Proforma Invoices (which they get your account information from and then steal your Company Identity, even possibly your identity to use in new crimes) from suppliers, etc.
Most of these people are professionals at it, and make thousands of dollars a year preying on the good trust of people who believe they are a real buyer or a person in need.
Over 98% of these criminals originate from Africa, specifically Nigeria and specifically target American or European countries to capitalise on the historical racial sympathy towards Africans from those countries and their social and political sensitivities.
Now let me explain the 2 most common ways for these criminals to get your trust...
How to Determine a Scam Letter/Inquiry
- You receive an introduction letter via email...In this letter they usually tell a story about a person who dies and the family is in great danger or wants to leave the country, etc. There is always a story about the person who has died, (once again a basic psycological technique to generate sympathy and place the criminal above suspicion) that they were from a wealthy family or government official or big businessman. Then their letter goes on to say that there is a large sum of money, which was hidden away or put away in a foreign bank, etc. and that the current family cannot transfer it safely out of the country without outside help. This is where you come in.....They propose to you that transfer the money into your account and keep it safe for them to pick up in the future from your country. For doing this, you will receive between 20-30% of the total amount of the money they propose to transfer into your account.
Now, this is where the Scam begins....Once you say Ok to the proposal, They will provide you with a wide array of forged documents and other information so that you can verify that this is real. They sometimes provide cheques for a certain amount so that they build your confidence, etc. Their cheques will clear in your bank with no problems. Once they receive your trust, They will ask for your complete banking details so that they can wire you the total money transfer....and when they have that information, they will strike! They have access to your account now, and will try to withdrawal all your money in your account....If they are the patient kind of criminal, They will wait and lure you into their trap a little more before they take all your money, telling you that there are costs involved for the transfer, including legal fees, etc, and that these fees must be paid before they can send the money into your account....So if you want to receive that 20-30%, you will have to pay these fees, etc or the deal cannot go through....
That is where you begin to lose a lot of money...because you keep sending the funds to pay this fee and that fee, all the time they are reassuring you that the money will be sent soon, never once showing that the money was never there and that they are all doing this to get your hard earned money...
Eventually, they will try to get your money through your account withdrawal, and they will get some before your bank alerts you....but all those fees you paid, are where the Scammer really makes his money, and he/she has long disappeared without a trace before you can do anything about it, probably using a new identity from the previous person he just scammed!
There are variations of the Scam as well...Sometimes they use a Religious or Racial guilt complex attitude to make you feel pity and send them money.
I will give you some tell-tale signs on how to spot a scammer letter in a little bit....but now onto the 2nd type of method used!
- This method is widely used on many tradeboards on the Internet.
You receive an Email or Inquiry from a potential buyer...The person requests a price list along with full details/specifications, and is eager to see samples. Everything seems like a normal buyer inquiry...You send them the information they request and await their reply. They then request samples, at which time you inform them the price, etc.
And this is where the Scam begins...They request a Proforma Invoice, which is normal for business...but then again it's deadly in the hands of a scammer...Now it's off to the two choices the Scammer has to get your money or products for free...
A. They inform you that they can only send you payment by Cheque or Credit Card...If you accept these ways you are in big trouble...as you have just been scammed...You might feel that you have no problems, because the check went through and the credit card was accepted, but you will in the future...because 99% of the time those checks are forged from someone else's account and the credit card numbers were stolen, and when the owner finds out they will recall the money...Hence you lose your merchandise costs, etc.
B. They receive your Proforma Invoice, which is what they really want because on that Proforma Invoice is all the information the scammer needs to take your identity, try to withdrawal your funds, and purchase samples using your good name and business reputation to aid his scam business for the next victim!
You will never hear from any of these people once they scam you...well not with that name again anyways...They'll probably contact you using a new identity and a new story or company and see if they can get your money and merchandise again...
Its a sad but true situation that needs to be addressed.
Some of these criminals will visit in person, often using countries with large African immigrant populations to aid in the fraud such as UK, Netherlands, Spain etc They will make you feel very confident and build a trusting relationship using basic psychological techniques often using subtle threats and coersion ...it is a sad reality...
- Titles/Subjects of these letters are usually as follows:
In the Name of God, Help Us! (Notice the use of Religion in the title)
*persons name* needs your help (Sometimes they use their Fake name in the title)
- The majority of these letters are from Nigeria and other African countries. These are very poor countries and many people use Internet Cafes there to send out letters all around the world. Sometimes you will receive these from larger areas like the UK, but the person will tell you they have fled from Nigeria or some other African country there and are awaiting release from a Political Asylum camp, hence they use #3 as below.
- The person always gives you a Mobile Phone/Satellite Phone number. They do this because it is easily thrown away or changed with a new SIM card.
- The person who sent you the inquiry is insisting on large volumes ordered without even seeing a sample and just wants the Proforma Invoice sent so that they can get approval by their government. Do not believe this...They only want the Proforma Invoice to take your money!
Suggestions to ensure you won't be Scammed
- Any letters as described in Method #1 are all Scam Letters....These are used to find good business people or decent trusting hard working people and steal their money! The best thing for you to do is DELETE the email or forward it to your local police or Fraud departments in your country.
- Never send a Proforma Invoice by Email...This can be copied and edited/used by the scammer to send to other people...Always send your Proforma Invoices by Fax. Make it your new policy...Fax only!
- Insist on receiving a Complete company profile from any new business clients that send you an Inquiry/Email...When you have this information, you can contact your local government embassy or Chamber of Commerce in that buyers country and verify the information to be correct. The safest way to ensure you are getting the best in buyers, is when the buyer or supplier is ExportID certified.
- Accept only payment options from a recognised trade escrow service.
If you receive any Scammer letters, Do not hesitate to contact the ExportBureau staff so that they can handle the situation.
Gary Jackie Chung - ExportBureau
Letter from fraud victim
|Mr. Stephen Law, CEO of Pansino Development Company .
We recently experienced a case of fraud through engaging in e-business with a gang of swindlers in West Africa, and I wish to inform all our friends to try and avoid this kind of thing.
In early November 03, we received an inquiry from a person from Benin, West Africa and we will name him Contact A, (the Management Director of a company name Entex Global) for footwear. We contacted him and after several e-mails, the person requested our company to send 2 footwear samples for each style we had.
A total of 14 styles (28 Pairs) of footwear were sent via DHL to the person concerned with the address as mentioned in his returned-mail and our quotation was submitted to him at the same time. On receipt of our samples, the person then requested more in other, bigger sizes.
We refused to send further samples, as the first delivery cost us a lot of money, and informed him that we have to receive payment for the first samples first or we will not send further samples.
We received an e-mail from another person, (We'll call him Contact B) who mentioned he was a staff member from Continental Bank of Benin informing us that a sum of money (USD65,000) had been sent to Hong Kong, and would be put into our Bank A/C if we paid USD1,500.00 in bank charges to his account.
Contact A was informed of the matter, and we insisted that the Bank Charges should be deducted from the sum of money instead of paying from our side.Contact A promised that he will pay USD700.00 on our behalf if we pay the balance USD800.00 to settle the matter. He instructed us to send the money through Western Union to him where he will gather it together with his amount to pay the bank.
A sum of USD847.00 (HK$6,562.00 including charges) was sent through Western Union to the name of Contact A, on 11 December 2003. We received an e-mail again from Contact A, complaining that the money sent was not enough for USD800.00- the total amount he received was only USD650.00. So he said we should send USD150.00 more. To solve the problem, another USD180.00 was sent to Contact A early the next day.
We expected everything to be settled to receive the purchase amount at our Bank A/C in order to start production, but we suddenly received another mail from Contact A, that his boss (Contact C) was very angry that he had to pay the other USD700.00 amount on our behalf, and refused to release the purchase amount, and insisted that we have to send the balance of the money or they will not release the payment to us. The mood in his mail was terrible-he said he would lose his job if we refused to send this balance. In order to resolve the matter again, another amount of USD889.00 (HK$6893.00 which including HK$362 for handling charges and 20% addition to prevent any currency change anomalies in his country) was sent to Contact A through Western Union on 17 Dec 2003.
Again, we received another demand that we have to send another USD350.00 to settle the matter.
He told us that his boss insists we pay this USD350 or they will stop the transaction. He explained that his boss was an American who was very tough on the matter, and asked us to contact his boss by phone to discuss the problem. We called his boss in the evening and he insisted we pay USD350 more and then he will instruct the bank to release the payment. Based on the phone call conversation, the accent of Contact C was found to be also African.
A few days later another mail from Contact B informed us that if we can pay him USD500.00 commission, he will instruct his representative in Hong Kong to release the purchase amount into our Bank Account.
We realized that this was complete fraud. Although it was only a small amount of money involved, a lot of time was consumed with these Vampires. I would like to share this experience with our friends.
Pansino Development Company