AusCERT 2013: Nigerian scam victim tells her story

AusCERT 2013: Nigerian scam victim tells her story

Summary: Nigerian scam victim Jill explains how she was conned out of $300,000 over a four year period.

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Jill said her scam started in September 2005 when she was contacted by someone pretending to be the Commissioner of Health in Nigeria, who was apparently looking for Australian companies to renovate some hospitals in Lagos. The potential profit in the deal was a cool $1 million.

As she was already running a successful interior decorating business, she saw this as a great opportunity.

"I have been in business all my life and feel I'm fairly savvy. One of the things they tell you at a very early stage is that you won't have to part with any money, and like a fool, you believe them," said Jill.

After communicating with the scammers over a long period of time, Jill began to trust her contact.

"I really believed they were my friends — how wrong was I," she said.

The scammers cost Jill her business and then led to her marriage break up.

"In 2011, my husband and I split because I went public with my experience. He said he didn't want me to expose him and myself to the public, but I felt I had to do it," Jill said.

Brian Hay, who heads up the Queensland Police's Fraud and Corporate Crime Group, said most victims were "smart business people" who were over 45 and held professional qualifications.

"We are not talking about stupid people. It's not because they are greedy. They saw an opportunity and got excited. If you click on that hyperlink (in a phishing email), it's because you are thinking emotionally, not rationally," he added.

Topics: AUSCERT, Security, Australia

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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20 comments
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  • Different Looking Scam?

    This one must have been much more professionally done than the ones all of us get in our spam folders daily: no obviously bad usage or spelling, names of government agencies correct and consistent, etc. The majority are so laughable that "Nigerian email scammer" has replaced "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the mock threat contained in the Puzzler acknowledgement message from Car Talk ("incorrect entries will be forwarded to ...")! It must be getting more and more difficult for REAL Nigerian business and government agencies to do business because of the scams!

    But perhaps ... the obvious scam messages are just decoys (of course, if the DO manage to catch a few people, it's worth the ISP connection for those bottom feeders) to make the BIG scams seem more believable. The marks think "there are no misspelled words, the English is good, it must be legitimate." Then they are hooked.

    By the way, English is one of Nigeria's official languages, because of British colonial history, so one would think that Nigerians would speak and write better English.

    I hope the people of Nigeria, like other nations, will find a way to put the "scam industry" out of business, especially since it hurts the image the rest of the world has of them. We in the United States feel the same way about our Tea Party and birther nutbags, also.
    jallan32
  • Nigeria Scam Worked...

    Really? REALLY? Not stupid? Not greedy? These idiots have been on the internet for, how long, 5 years, ten years? $300,000 to friends in NIGERIA???!!! REALLY?

    The only danger to society here is that these people are still allowed to vote... really...
    btone-c5d11
    • But What Was the Take?

      The thing about spam scams is that they need a VERY LOW rate of success to be worth pursuing (like the joke from the 1980's about the "player" who asked every woman he met if she wanted to sleep with him; he only needed one in a thousand to say yes), so even if only ten people a week, which is easily an UNDERESTIMATE of America's gullible population (see also Tea Party and PTL), responded, the scammers will make a profit.

      There have been numerous technical proposals of ways to screen out spam by requiring a long calculation challenge to make it more expensive, but it seems that nobody in the industry has put any of them into effect.
      jallan32
    • How old are Nigerian Scams?

      Nigerian scams have been around for a long, long time.

      The first one I saw was a snail mail letter. And they didn't ask for money, just a signed, blank business letterhead....

      The internet merely allowed them a wider reach more quickly.....
      rowan.evans@...
  • And not just Nigeria

    Recent laughable scams have been received with false origins in other African countries such as Benin (not sure why Africa, maybe because marks can imagine huge embezzled bank accounts being smuggled out of there more than other countries), and one scam recently even purported to be signed by First Lady Michelle Obama! As usual, the spelling and grammar were so bad that even a Birther would not believe the Obamas actually had anything to do with it. Or maybe the scammers were AIMING at birthers as their marks!
    jallan32
  • There is only one way

    There is only one way to deal with people and offers like Jill was presented with and that is not deal at all. It is almost impossible to verify an offshore contact and the laws of your country can't protect you. Jill saw this as a great opportunity = greed. How else do you make money without investing? Nobody is going to just give you money. Jill fell for this because she was gullible and then she topped it off by destroying her marriage although she may have been smart there.

    My wife's son got a letter one day several years back offering him a share in the winnings from the Spanish lottery El Gordo. All he had to do was send them some money for claims processing and present his bank account details so they could put money in it. It took me a week to hose him down. He had the fever of getting rich quick just like Jill. He was lucky but some people, like Jill, can't be saved.
    bd1235
    • W. C. Fields

      is said to have spoken this line as a character in one of his movies:

      You can't cheat an honest man.
      jallan32
  • I just had a different one

    I got an email from someone witha gmail account supposedly offering me a brand new Toyota, and a million dollars for winning the Toyota Lottery. I haden't played or done anything dealing with Toyota, and it wasn't even addressed specififically to me. I did open it, causing consternation at the help desk (it was work email), I also forwarded it to the FTC and to Google. I did not answer it, wondering how anyone could offer me a new car and a million dollars out of nowhere. One has to be observant. I also had two offering land speculation deals from someone with a Candian email address. I deleted them w/o opening.
    dhays
  • How?

    Seriously folks, how is it that anybody that dim could ever accrue $300K in the first place?
    zdnet@...
    • There is no $300K.

      And the person who CLAIMS to have it and wants to give it to you is not the "dim" one; it is the one who wants to GET the money who is "dim" and he/she does not already have it.
      jallan32
  • people are so gullible

    I didn't think stuff like this can happen today since its been pretty well known that nigerian scams are everywhere. The fact that your conversation with anyone you haven't met includes the word Nigeria should put your alarms at full alert.

    My friend's roommate is one such fool. But the sad part here is that my friend had been warning her for weeks but she is so dumb she insists that its real and she will marry this wealthy guy "whom she never met and whom promised her all kinds of things". Stuff like this makes me mad because its idiots like this that perpetuates these scams. Long story short, she got suckered out of $40K. His story...he got into an auto accident and needed her to wire money to him (the allegedly wealthy guy somehow needs money from her) so he can get an operation and then (in his words) so they can treat his auto accident injury with chemo.....didn't know you can get cancer from a car crash.
    rengek
    • I'd seen that before....

      An acquitence was curious about a 'guy' (who knows) like that who she'd met on some low end dating site. It took me googling the text to show that many (many) people had gotten the exact same message from the same 'guy'.
      Evil Sandmich
  • The most powerful key .......

    on the keyboard is ....... drum roll ...... "Delete"
    Easy to use and effective.
    da philster
  • YOU NEVER LISTEN!

    I wonder how many other times you refused to even consider your husband's advice. Maybe it was time for him to go before you put him in a situation he cannot recover from.
    jayqueue@...
  • Fiction

    Come on... 'Jill from Australia'??? This whole story sounds like a fake.
    marvls
  • Nigerian Scams

    I used to get several emails from Nigeria and other countries offering deals that sounded to good to be true. now not so much. early on, i would save them and reread them several times and finally delete them, then putting them in the junk/spam folder. then I read about several scams and started sending the emails to the FBI. I don't know if the FBI ever does anything with them, but at least it lets them know these people haven't quit their corruption.
    spacepioneer
  • Please tell me she wasnt compensated...

    YOUR OWN FAULT
    Funkmonkey
  • Let's put an end to this!!!

    I am a Nigerian..We need your help..any way you can,to stop this.Our Government is treating us badly.They embezzle public funds and neglect important things like education, healthcare etc . Most of them got to that position through thuggery and lobbying.They put all the embezzled funds in U.S and other foreign bank accounts and you people use it to grow your economy and leave us to suffer down here.Please ask your government to discourage such things.

    I am a legitimate business man and want to look at ways to do business online.But I was discouraged by how major payment gateways like paypal treat Nigerians.Please note that not all Nigerians are scammers.The fact that one scammer could make one million contacts in a year does not make majority of us scammers.Infact, those scammers are less than 1% of the total population.Will you,because of the fraudelent 1% punish the genuine >98% willing to do legitimate business.Because we are Africans, we are being heavily marginalized in the internet industry.

    Websites like ebay, paypal and the likes are all stereotyped..or should I say racists?Take for example, reputable companies like Amazon and Google, they have networks and offices in Nigeria and they do not complain about fraud. I bought all my books from Amazon and they sent it directly to my office here in Nigeria..

    There are hackers from asia, europe and the rest of the world and there are 'ponzi schemes' all over the internet emanating from different countries, yet it is only Nigerians who are scammers.I wish I could stop all those 419ers and scammers in Nigeria but it is difficult,people over here welcome them as 'heros'(with their latest G-Guard Mercedes Benz)- I mean they make awful amount of money via scam and you are considered a looser if you don't join them. I was once tempted to join but I wasn't brought up that way(although I envy them sometimes).I believe in hardwork, and Nigerians are hardworking , but these 'Yahoo boys' have directly or indireclty altered that image.I am really frustrated right now as I do not have any foreign business contact because of this fraud and I cannot think of a way to stop this.
    Nnamdi01
    • Nigerian Scam

      Your from Nigeria and 99.99% of correspondence from Nigeria is scams--so that leaves me to believe your posting is a scam. How does this scam work?

      Just kidding, I am not sure how you can stop this, as millions if not billions of people have received emails from Nigerian scams..Best of luck clearing this up!
      Walkingant
  • Let's put an end to this!!!

    I am a Nigerian..We need your help..any way you can,to stop this.Our Government is treating us badly.They embezzle public funds and neglect important things like education, healthcare etc . Most of them got to that position through thuggery and lobbying.They put all the embezzled funds in U.S and other foreign bank accounts and you people use it to grow your economy and leave us to suffer down here.Please ask your government to discourage such things.

    I am a legitimate business man and want to look at ways to do business online.But I was discouraged by how major payment gateways like paypal treat Nigerians.Please note that not all Nigerians are scammers.The fact that one scammer could make one million contacts in a year does not make majority of us scammers.Infact, those scammers are less than 1% of the total population.Will you,because of the fraudelent 1% punish the genuine >98% willing to do legitimate business.Because we are Africans, we are being heavily marginalized in the internet industry.

    Websites like ebay, paypal and the likes are all stereotyped..or should I say racists?Take for example, reputable companies like Amazon and Google, they have networks and offices in Nigeria and they do not complain about fraud. I bought all my books from Amazon and they sent it directly to my office here in Nigeria..

    There are hackers from asia, europe and the rest of the world and there are 'ponzi schemes' all over the internet emanating from different countries, yet it is only Nigerians who are scammers.I wish I could stop all those 419ers and scammers in Nigeria but it is difficult,people over here welcome them as 'heros'(with their latest G-Guard Mercedes Benz)- I mean they make awful amount of money via scam and you are considered a looser if you don't join them. I was once tempted to join but I wasn't brought up that way(although I envy them sometimes).I believe in hardwork, and Nigerians are hardworking , but these 'Yahoo boys' have directly or indireclty altered that image.I am really frustrated right now as I do not have any foreign business contact because of this fraud and I cannot think of a way to stop this.
    Nnamdi01