What Would You Do?

I wanted to share the following link with you.  The show What Would You Do sets up scenarios and sees if people will jump in to assist.  The one that aired last night had a segment on Nigerian Scams.  The producers of this show actually had contacted me some time ago because they wanted a scam victim to speak with, but we were not able to find one that was willing to speak with them.

You can watch the video of the episode at
or read the transcript at
I would also encourage you to leave your comments on the topic at the link with the transcript.

MoneyGram and Nigeria

On June 8th, 2010 MoneyGram released the following information. Because I feel so strongly about this topic, I would like to share the entire press release with you, along with my personal thoughts on it.

MINNEAPOLIS, Jun 08, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) –MoneyGram International (NYSE:MGI), a leading global money transfer company, announced today that First Bank of Nigeria Plc has selected MoneyGram to provide money transfer services in its more than 500 locations across the nation. First Bank, established in 1894, is Nigeria’s oldest bank and one of the largest in terms of network size. First Bank has locations in all key cities including Abuja, Benin, Lagos, Iabdan, Port Harcourt, and Warri as well as a significant presence in rural Nigeria, some operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making MoneyGram services even more convenient for Nigerians.

Is this really what we need?  for Money Gram services to be even more convenient for Nigerians?  I feel that it is pretty convenient for them just as it is.  Actually it is way TOO convenient for them to pick up money that people receive from counterfeit cashier’s checks, or for fake Secret Shopper jobs or that people believe that they are sending to someone within the United States.

“MoneyGram, which has operated in Nigeria since 1998, saw significant growth between 2006 and 2008 when it tripled its network in the country,” said Vicky Johnston, MoneyGram’s senior regional director for Anglo Africa and Middle East. “We are excited about partnering with First Bank as it is MoneyGram’s most recent and significant expansion which will allow us to provide a service to so many more people through the bank’s large number of branches.”

Ironically, during the same time period that MoneyGram increased it’s network in the country, the number of money lost to scams and fraud also increased.  You can see the increase on the chart below which is from the Annual Report put out by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov)

To commemorate the agreement with First Bank Plc, MoneyGram’s Chairman and CEO, Pamela H. Patsley is in Nigeria and will attend the official launch event scheduled for today. During her visit, Patsley will address the media as well as CEOs of MoneyGram’s agent banks in Nigeria, discussing the common goal of bringing needed financial services to the people of Nigeria and the growth opportunities there.

I have a better idea . . . what about discussing the common goal of fighting all of the scams and fraud that pass through MoneyGram every day, and how they can do more to save those customers from becoming victims.  Before we start looking at the financial needs of the people of Nigeria, I think we need to protect the financial needs of the people right here in the United States. 

“MoneyGram is pleased to partner with First Bank,” said Patsley. “Our partnership will help to ensure that our services are accessible and convenient for the people of Nigeria and that we can continue to meet the growing demand of consumers in this important remittance market.”

And why are their demands growing?  Because there are more and more scams going undetected or people just turning a blind eye to them. 

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is ranked in the top 10 receive countries for money transfers. The World Bank estimates that $10 billion USD in remittances was sent to Nigeria in 2009 – with the United States being the primary send country. Other top send countries include Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Spain, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

That is because Nigeria is also ranked in the top 3 countries for money wire transfer scams.  The other countries would be Canada and the United Kingdom, who are also ironically on the list above.  I wonder hom much of the $559.7 million dollars from the chart above that went out of this country in scams is directly a part of the $10 billion reported to be going into Nigeria in 2009? 

With the First Bank agreement, MoneyGram now has a total of eight bank relationships, thus further proving that MoneyGram is dedicated to providing reliable and safe money transfer services to Nigerians – wherever they may reside. Furthermore, agent banks in Nigeria have brought a positive experience to the remittance business with their individual pedigree in banking, service quality delivery and branch network, which provides a sense of ease for those receiving funds from family members working in other countries.

So we are going over and above to make sure that Nigerians have a reliable and safe money transfer service, but we are doing very little to offer that same kind of safety to the MoneyGram customers in the United States.  The last sentence in the above paragraph really gets me . . . . which provides a sense of ease for those receiving funds.  Why is it that we seem to care more about the people in another country, who are one of the main sources of these scams, than the people here in the United States that they are scamming? 

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
 
Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Sign our petition for Scam Education and Awareness Programs at
http://www.change.org/petitions/view/create_scam_education_and_awareness_programs

A little humor

Another member of our message board told me about the “You might be a Nigerian scammer” list on EbolaMonkey.com, and I wanted to share parts of it with you.

You might be a Nigerian Scammer if . . .

YOU WRITE IN ALL CAPS.

You refuse to use spell check and think that Courier is the only font in the world.

You hate Americans.

You confuse American last names with first name. Ex. Smith Adam or Williams Brian

When someone asks you for a picture, you look for the nearest magazine. (or modeling website)

You always put DR. in front of your name, no matter what the situation. Even if you are not a doctor.

You become extremely angry when you catch someone lying, even though everthing about you and what you are doing is a lie.

You have trouble keeping your lies straight.

You introduce yourself as a Prince or a King.

Your father or husband was a Nigerian General.

The new President of Nigeria is seeking vengence on your family because your father or husband confirmed a life prison sentence on him when he was in charge.

People around you tend to get assassinated, poisoned, or killed in a plane crash.

You write in the most contrived, archaic, and atrocious English.

You try to capitalize off human misery (e.g. mutilations in Sierra Leone, the September 11th attacks)

You have $25-$100 million dollars just laying aroundatrocity

You address everyone as “friend” or “dear”

Everything is “confidential.”

You are a prestigious International Banker and you have a Yahoo or Hotmail email address. Even if you are trying to be secretive, the best you can come up with is a yahoo email address because you aren’t smart enough to log into register.com and register a fake domain name.

You are an ex-general who got converted to Christianity and now wants to make amends to God by sending a stranger the $ 25 million you stole from your country.

You are the wife of the deceased state employee whose husband stole all this $11, 000,000. but got converted to Christianity before his death and wants you to “invest it all in Christian work in the US to make amends for his sins against God.”.

A contract was over invoiced/overcharged by $25 million and the money is now “floating” in a suspense account at the Central Bank of Nigeria under your sole control.

You have resolved to share 35% of your fortune with a complete stranger for taking absolutely no risk whatsoever.

You are The Chairman in charge of Minting and Printing at Central Bank of Nigeria and you control the Nigeria Remittance Office. Not only can you supply any document needed to prove these funds exist, you can also print any document needed to authorise release of the funds to a complete stranger.

All you require to make someone rich is YOUR NAME, COMPANY`S NAME, ADDRESS , TELEFAX NUMBER. YOUR BANK NAME ,ADDRESS, TELEFAX NUMBER. YOUR BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER AND BENEFICIARY NAME.

You are a high official at Nigerian Petroleum holding on to millions in over-billings.

You have a motorcycle for sale on EBAY for an extremely low price and your will to ship it for free for a small deposit of $2000.

By some strange coincidence You and your trusted barrister and/or other associate always read and write your emails mere minutes apart on the same computer.

You are a destitute political refugee living in a camp on the boarder of some country, but you still manage the daily trip to a cyber cafe in Logos, Nigeria in order to check your email.

When you get caught trying to scam someone, you use the “I’m doing this because the white man robbed me and made us Africans slaves” excuse. Even though you have no idea of the ethnicity of the person you are robbing, disregarding the possibility that you could be stealing from someone who has African ancestry.

You pose for a photo with a loaf of bread on your head

-dont know what these mean:
Ivannastiff Kockupmianus
Iama Dildo
Bendme Overand Dome
I Love Juanking
Will U Phystme
Iblowdudes
Anita Cox
Humpin Bois
Butt-Plugg

You “monitor” emails rather than read them.

Need money urgently so your child can have an vital operation tomorrow, for weeks.

Work for a African bank and can rip them off with just a USA bank account and $200.

Ask a stranger to help you secretly rip off a bank etc.

————–

It starts with an email . . .

Here is a typical email that could show up in your inbox and start you down the path of becoming a scam victim if you don’t know what to look for.

Subject: You Have A Package

From: Brenda.Kellen@marshall.k12.mn.us

Reply To: info@fedexdelivery.com

You have a bank draft of $580,000.00 USD , which await the outstanding payment of $95.00 Contact our dispatch unit for dispatch immediately. Contact person: Mr. Celin Smith, Email: fdexcourierdeliveryltd01@gmx.com Tell: +234 807 363 6733

How do I know that this is a scam from just this small amount of information? Let me show you.

First, they tell you that you have a large amount of money just sitting there waiting for you, and all you have to do is just send them some money and they can release these funds to you.  This is used in inheritance and lottery scams on a regular basis.  If you really did have a large amount of money owed to you, and the only thing holding that money from getting to you was some sort of payment, they could take that payment from the amount owed and just send you your money.

Second, there are WAY too many email addresses going on in this email.  There is the one in the From line, which is probably spoofed or this person could have had their email account hacked into.  We will talk about spoofing and hacking later on this week.  Then there is a different email address in the Reply To line, which includes the term FedEx, but is not a legitimate FedEx extension . . . a simple Google search verified this.  Then, within the email there is a third email address, again with terms referring to FedEx, but if you look they are on the front part of the email address, the part after the @ is from gmx.com which is a free email service.  With free email services the person setting up the account has full control over the letter that appear before the @ in the email address.  I could go and create one right now that said WaltDisney@(insert free email service here) but that does not mean that the people who I am emailing are getting emails from Walt Disney.

Third, look at the phone number provided . . . Tell: +234 807 363 6733 . . . that is WAY too many numbers to be a United States phone number.  Another Google search tells me that 234 phone numbers are from Nigeria, and Nigeria is the number one country of these types of scams.

So what have we learned today?  Google is our friend, look at the email address and see if it is a free email service, and check your phone numbers.

Scam mentioned in popular television show

Does anyone watch the show Medium, about Allison DuBois who works for the DA’s office and can see and hear people who have died and can pick up on things? Allison DuBois is a real person, and her gift has helped to solve many cases.

On the show this week her daughter Bridgette who also has this gift, runs into a man in the library using the computer every day. He is dressed as an African prince, or at least that is the way that he appears to the girl. She sees the name that he uses on an email account, and when her older sister is later complaining about the spam emails and mentions the same name Bridgette tells the family that she knows this guy and that he comes to the library all of the time. They family tried to tell Bridgette that it is a scam, and that he is just pretending to be a Prince with a lot of money and that in his emails he asks you to give him some money to help him get his money out of the bank that it is in.

(sorry . . . you have to watch the short ad in order to see the clip)

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/medium/video/?pid=PZ0y0OFCCF2PbXcIi99LXoQH_TH8ELKv&play=true&vs=Default

So, the next day Bridgette sees this guy at the library again and gives him all of the money she has (about $30 I think . . . remember, this is a girl in grade school) and she says he can take it to help him get his money and then he just has to pay her back when he does get her money.

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/medium/video/?pid=Q1RsJ3iRt54UApw_UgIwdgqydbwTMibS&play=true&vs=Clips

The man later returns to the library to give Bridgette her money back saying that he cannot take money from a little girl, and that he had only been doing this type of thing for a few weeks. Don’t we all wish that THIS part happened in real life!

I do think it is great that they are getting the word about the Nigerian scams out into the popular television shows. This one episode could have helped to educate a lot of people that this is a scam.

http://www.tv.com/medium/dear-dad-…/episode/1317709/summary.html?tag=ep_guide;summary

Know your codes

Here is one way to know if a person is trying to pull a fast one on your . . . check and see if their area code matches up with where they say they live. If they are calling from a landline, and they tell you that they are in a certain state, just check here to see if their phone number matches up with where they say they are.

If you go to http://www.whitepages.com/area-codes they make it really easy for you. There is search box where you can enter an area code, and they will tell you what city and time zone that area code is connected to. That would be another good way to check on someone . . . if you have their phone number, ask them what time zone they are in, and then check their answer with that search.

You can also enter a city or a state, and it will search and tell you all of the area codes that would be found in that area.

For international calls, you can go to http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/ and enter the country that you want to call and it will tell you the numbers you would need to dial.

Since many of the internet scams today come out of Nigeria, look for a phone number with a Country Code of +234 http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/country.php?country=Nigeria

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Support Scam Victims United by shopping at
http://shopittous.blogspot.com/

Seven years

Seven years ago this month my husband and I became victims of a counterfeit cashier’s check scam while selling his 1961 Buick Special online. So much has happened in those seven years.

We found that we were not alone, and that this was happening to others.
We started our website Scam Victims United to share our story with others.
We spoke out in the news about this issue.
We have worked with Consumer Protection Agencies to help spread the word about scams.
In the first two years of our site being operational, we helped to stop over 2 million dollars from going into the hands of scammers.

We have come a long way, but we still have so far to go. The Consumer Federation of America released the results of a survey in May 2009 which relates directly to information we at Scam Victims United work to educate people about. They found that fifty-nine percent of the respondents incorrectly believe that when you deposit a check or money order, your bank confirms that it is good before allowing you to withdraw the money. The number goes up to 70 percent among young adults age 18-24, and 71 percent of people with incomes under $25,000 and who did not complete high school. More than 40 percent of those surveyed do not know that they are liable if the checks or money orders they deposit or cash are counterfeit. Fifty-two percent age 18-24 and half of Hispanics incorrectly said the person who gave you the check must pay the bank back. This is precisely the type of information that we at Scam Victims United work to educate people about.

As you can see by the results of this survey, there is a great need for education in the area of banking terminology and the check clearing process. One of the major reasons that counterfeit cashier’s checkscams work so well is that when a bank customer hears the terms “the check is clear” or that it will be “verified in 24 hours” it gives them a false sense of security that the check is legitimate and that they can use the money with no repercussions.

And that is our mission.

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch