Sunday, 2 December 2012

Internet Con Artists

Drawing by
“How are you and your family? I hope all is well; it’s just my urgent need for foreign partner that made me to contact you for assistance. I am a banker by profession in West Africa and currently holding the post of Director Auditing and Accounting unit of the bank.
I have the opportunity of transferring the left over funds ($11.5 million) of one of our bank clients who died in crash since seven years ago and none of his family member or relation has come for the claim, and now the bank is planning how to confiscate the fund since no one has come for the claim. Please without wasting time I need your honest and humanity to execute this transaction under your kind control for the benefit of our both families.
 Hence, I am inviting you for this deal I will offer you 40% of the amount mentioned above as my partner and the rest will be for me, please if you are sure that you are capable to handle this transaction and you are ready to assist me to execute this business with trust and honest than the further details of the transfer will be forwarded to you as soon as I receive your return mail.
 For more clarification reply me back and please note that the claim is 100% free.
Thanks.”(Adapted from an email sent to the writer)
I guess you have received such emails from people that you have never met before and they seem to be offering you an irresistible deal. Yes, check again you might be dealing with a con artist. Many people across the world have lost millions of shillings to these people who want to reap from people’s ignorance. The deal is usually very enticing as one above and if not careful you can fall into their trap. It usually begins by building trust between the con artist and the potential victim. The conversation goes on via email for quite a while and after obtaining your phone contacts they will call you. In some instances, they go to an extent of setting up fake websites in cases where they have used non-existing organizations. This is done with the aim of building trust between the con artist and the victim. When the con artist discovers that he/she has gained the full trust of the victim, the last wit is unleashed and the victim ends up losing money.
I have been a victim of the con artists who, later I discovered that they the infamous West Africa Con Syndicate. It all started by an email I received from a lady named Jennifer. We communicated for a while and we exchanged pictures. Going by the pictures she sent me, no man could resist such a lady but I was oblivious, since this was the trick to hook me up to the scheme. She told me that she was a refugee from Ivory Coast and that her father was a high ranking government official before being brutally murdered in the Ivorian civil war. However, he left her large sums of money amounting to $7,000,000 in a foreign bank called Royal Bank of Scotland. I therefore decided to check out the website of this bank to verify if it truly exits and voila! It was there! (so I thought).She wanted to transfer the money to a trustee (me) and then after successful transfer of the funds she will join me here in Kenya for loving marriage. She later told me that in order to transfer the funds; I need a Barrister (Lawyer) from her country of origin who will be in charge of the transaction. Here is the catch, in order to transfer the cash, I was supposed to foot the legal costs first which was $ 1250.I told the ‘lawyer’ that I didn’t have the money and he even called to encourage me to apply for loan from the bank in order to settle the cost. At this juncture I asked myself, if this girl has lots of money lying somewhere in the bank, why couldn’t she arrange with the barrister to get the money? It seemed easier that way and after all, which lawyer will decline to help in such a situation with millions of dollars in the offing? It occurred to me that actually I was being conned all this time and I seized all communications with this ‘beautiful lady’.
Tragic situations
In some cases the con scam may end up being tragic. In one incident here in Kenya, a man was duped into Gold business in a country in West Africa. When he went to meet the so called investors; they kidnapped him and demanded ransom from his family. The amount asked was too high that the man’s family could not raise immediately and it took them about a year before they raised the money that saw the release of their loved one from captivity. Failure to meet their demands may as well lead to the death of your loved one.
Way forward
The internet has brought with it many advantages including cheaper advertising means. However, it has also exposed us to real danger of cyber crime such as internet conning. The email service providers and even anti-virus softwares producers are working around the clock to ensure that our email accounts are safe. The email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Rocket Mail among others have analyzed such messages so that messages the traits like one in the excerpt are classified as spam. The anti-virus softwares try to prevent people who snoop and steal personal information from other people and use it maliciously. Most of the con victims have been blamed for being “stupid” hence gullible to con artists antics. All in all, we should be extra keen and ‘good’ things don’t just come that easy.