A while back, “Looks like I’m going to have to close p2pnet down,” I said, continuing:
“Yesterday in a p2pnet post on an email exchange I’d been having with 419 scammer ‘Caroline Jabah,’ supposedly living in a refugee camp, I quoted what I thought would be my final communication from the alleged 24-year-old daughter of ‘Engr.Jabna Gabi Dickson, [who] was the Chairman, RUGY & GAB Oil and Gas Company a private servicing firm in Darfur’.
“ ‘Dear Jon,’ it said, ‘Thanks for your mail. Meanwhile, how are you doing today? Nice, I know. I may need about 280 or 300 dollars to start. I will be happy if you do it for me. I will reward you abundantly if help me.’
“That would have been the start of something big – for the guys behind ‘Caroline’ – and I would have ended up in the hole for thousands of dollars, I said, noting, ‘Millions of these scum messages go out every month, and presumably, enough people are sucked in to make it worthwhile.’
“I also said, ‘Please read the story here and get back to me. Thanks, Jon’.
‘Caroline’ did exactly that, “threatening to do her best to shut p2pnet down” unless I pulled the story and pictures published with it.”
I’ve had a few similar exchanges with 419 scammers, but Caroline’s was one of the best.
So I was interested when a Slashdot post said scam awareness website www.scam-detectives.co.uk “has published a two part interview with convicted Nigerian 419 scammer ‘John’ … who talks about his experiences of scam victims, how he gains their trust and convinces them to part with their money, and how he would go back for another ‘bite’ after the original scam, posing as a law enforcement official who has apprehended the scammer and recovered the funds … for a fee of course…”
Here’s a clip from Scam Detectives >>>
Scam-Detective: How did you find victims for your scams?
John: First you need to understand how the gangs work. At the bottom are the “foot soldiers”, kids who spend all of their time online to find email addresses and send out the first emails to get people interested. When they receive a reply, the victim is passed up the chain, to someone who has better English to get copies of ID from them like copies of their passport and driving licenses and build up trust. Then when they are ready to ask for money, they are passed further up again to someone who will pretend to be a barrister or shipping agent who will tell the victim that they need to pay charges or even a bribe to get the big cash amount out of the country. When they pay up, the gang master will collect the money from the Western Union office, using fake ID that they have taken from other scam victims.
Scam-Detective: But where do the “foot soldiers” find the email addresses?
John: Lots of people sign guestbooks online and leave their email addresses all over the internet on forums and websites. We would just visit the guestbooks, forums and websites and harvest the email addresses. Some gangs have software that collects these emails automatically, so it cuts down on the work.
Scam-Detective: What percentage of emails would get a response?
John: Maybe 9 or 10 out of every thousand emails. Then maybe 1 out of every 20 replies would lead to us getting money out of the victim in the end.
Scam-Detective: And how much money would you expect to get from a victim?
John: On average, about $7,500 (£4,600) but the most I know about was $25,000 (£15,400). This would be taken in smaller amounts, starting with a couple of hundred, then there would be more “problems” with the transaction, which would mean that we needed more money to release the big payout. People would keep paying more because they were very small amounts compared to the big payout that they believed they would get in the end.
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