Tightening the noose on online money scammers

Who hasn't received an email asking them to send money to the other side of the world? One country where online scammers are making a very profitable living, the Ivory Coast, is threatening to launch a crackdown on the fraudsters.

In general, people are tricked into sending money after an exchange of friendly and/or desperate emails from a pastor renting his flat in London/a millionaire who lost his cheque book, a penniless bride etc. Online scammers, who think up new ways to swindle your money daily, have become masters of persuasion with fake documents at the ready for those of us harder to convince.

Either the person is too trusting or a victim of blackmail (compromising photos included...), the money is then wired through a money transfer agency and happily withdrawn by the trickster at the other end, with a slice handed over to the unquestioning cashier at the desk. A fraud expert tells us here how they're closing in on these anonymous scammers.

Have you been victim to an online money transfer scam? Post your account.


Showing off their gains

A compilation of photos posted online by scammers. Posted by "croquescrocs".

“For some it’s their primary source of revenue”

Abraham Djekou, 43, is a telecommunications technician from Abidjan. He works for national telecommunications agency ATCI and is currently involved in a surveillance project that is forming part of the crackdown.

The scamming phenomenon took off around a decade ago and has got increasingly bigger since. In the beginning it was work that only a few specialists knew how to do, but youngsters picked up the trade quickly. Here in Ivory Coast they almost always target Europeans. It's not a one-man job; the scammers have several accomplices, particularly in money transfer agencies near to them, where the scammers come to collect money sent from abroad.

In Abidjan there are certain districts known for scam-operating areas, Treichville and Marcory being two of them. For some people it's their primary source of revenue. Encouraged by internet anonymity and the conviction of their victims, many have made a fortune. But our country's reputation has suffered from their swindling. As a nationality we've been blacklisted on the Internet. Some major websites have blocked our IP addresses. Economically we're penalised when it comes to online transfers and transactions.    

In order to fight this plague, we've set up a cyber-criminality platform to survey the scammers, hand them over to the police, and have them brought to justice. This is going to cut this kind of crime by 80% in the coming months. There's also a law coming into play next month which will mean that web users have to show ID if they want to use a computer in an internet cafe."    

How not to get fooled by Ivory Coast scammers

This video shows how scammers use photos of (unknowing) girls to coax men into sending them money.  Posted by "xerial30".

Example of a blackmail email posted online by a web user

"Dear Mr Fabien,

My name is Mr Kouassi Roger, chief of the Ivorian internet police. We received an anti-perversity alert on our server about a document coming from you. It's a document of a conversation you had which includes vulgar content, when you were masturbating in front of a young girl of 16 onscreen. The (PICI) Internet Police of our country is charging you with the sexual abuse of this young 16-year-old. We're contacting you before it's too late. If not we'll be obliged to send the video to several [French] TV channels such as TV5, M6, FRANCE 24, TF1. If you refuse to accept any proposition we will take the case to the Supreme Court after which the public prosecutor of Ivory Coast Raymond Tchipou [sic, his surname is in  fact spelt Tchimou] will contact the French embassy and a warrant for your arrest will be issued in Ivory Coast, which works all over the world. Contact us on [telephone number]."

Posted as a comment here.


Avoiding Online Scams: Make

Avoiding Online Scams:

Make sure there is a clear-cut job description. If there are no details other than "make money at home" or "work fifteen minutes on the computer and earn full time cash", then move on. If you can't figure out what you would be doing, then it's a sure bet that this is not going to be a legitimate job.
Step 2

Do not believe any ad that tells you there are only "limited spaces available, enter your information now". The ad is pressuring you to decide quickly for fear that the "job" might be filled by others. If you can't research the company and get more information, then do not waste your time. The limited spaces will never be filled because ANYONE can apply...and most everyone will be required to pay to get started.
Step 3

Just because a site mentions on their online ad that a major company endorses their work-at-home program does NOT mean it's a fact. Look for links to the "major company" that show that there truly is an endorsement. Most of these fly-by-night companies count on the fact that you won't check any further into their claims of having company endorsements. There is something to be said for "too good to be true".
Step 4

Look for contact information in the ad. There should be a phone number, address and an email account that is not a "freebie" email account such as Yahoo or Gmail. Most successful companies have their own domain. However, do your research--anyone can buy a domain name for less than $20.

"Everyone has a friend who's

"Everyone has a friend who's sent money to Western Africa"

lol No! no we dont !

yeh seems like a bit of an

yeh seems like a bit of an exxageration. but then if you look at the amount of people its happened to it probably is true, just theyre too embarrassed to tell you

I answered an ad from a guy on craigslist once and he was trying to rent me his flat , saying his wife was sick, couldn't come back from nigeria, so once i sent the first payment he'd send the keys. it was pretty funny when i realised but woouldn't be for the person who didn't. would have been interesting to have an account from someone who it actually happened to..