BULL STREET - The art of the Con

 A Touch Of Nigeria

Nigerian’s are also adept at real estate scams, charity swindles, will scams, fraudulent order swindles, crude oil rip-offs, advance fee cons, letterhead swindles, death threat cons, Nigerian tax scams, U.S. visa scams and sample swindles, to name just a few of the rip-offs the fertile minds of the Nigerians have thought up.  Recovery is literally unheard of, and the scams continue unabated in spite of the entry of the U. S. Secret Service Financial Crimes Division into the investigations.  The problem for Americans has become so severe that the Department of Commerce has suspended distribution of Commercial News USA in Nigeria to withhold potential contact information on American firms from swindlers.

“Crime in Nigeria rose in the mid-1990s as a result of unemployment, economic decline, and social inequality, which are abetted by inefficient and corrupt police and customs forces. More than half of all offenses are thefts, burglaries, and break-ins, although armed robberies are also prominent. Nigeria is a major conduit for drugs moving from Asia and Latin America to markets in Europe and North America. Large-scale Nigerian fraud rings have targeted business people in other parts of the world. The business people are invited to help transfer (nonexistent) large sums of money out of Nigeria, with the promise of a share of the transferred money. Advance fees are requested to expedite this transfer, but the advanced money routinely disappears. Although there have been periodic campaigns to root out corrupt politicians and attack crime, they have had little lasting effect.” ([170])

Nigeria, April 7, 2000, the Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Nigeria. Nigeria has limited tourist facilities and conditions pose considerable risks to travelers:

Violent crime, committed by ordinary criminals, as well as by persons in police and military uniforms, can occur throughout the country.  Kidnapping for ransom of persons associated with the petroleum sector, including U.S. citizens, remains common in the Niger Delta area.

Use of public transportation throughout Nigeria is dangerous and should be avoided.  Taxis pose risks because of the possibility of fraudulent or criminal operators and poorly maintained vehicles.  Most Nigerian airlines have aging fleets, and there are valid concerns that maintenance and operational procedures may be inadequate to ensure passenger safety.

Nigerian-based business, charity and other scams target foreigners worldwide and pose a danger of financial loss.  Recipients pursuing such fraudulent offers risk physical harm if they come to Nigeria.  Persons contemplating business deals in Nigeria are strongly urged to check with the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State before providing any information or making any financial commitments.  No one should provide personal financial or account information to unknown parties.  An invitation to enter Nigeria without a visa is normally indicative of illegal activity.  Under no circumstances should U.S. citizens travel to Nigeria without a valid visa.  Furthermore, the ability of U.S. Embassy officers to extricate U.S. citizens from unlawful business deals and their consequences is extremely limited.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, where numerous fraudulent transactions allegedly are finalized with senior bureaucratic participation, purchased full page ads in a number of newspapers throughout the world and said, among other things, when referring to mail fraud:

“Unfortunately, the scam has continued unabated, even with increasing sophistication, because of the criminality, avarice and greed of the so-called victims of the scam, who are also villains.  The bogus “business” proposals/deals which run into millions of US dollars manifest fraudulent intentions which should ordinarily put any responsible and law abiding person on inquiry.  However, driven by fraudulent tendency, greed and the urge to make quick and easy money at the expense of Nigeria, many of the so-called victims have continued to ignore the warning of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to the effect that such transactions are bogus and fraudulent.” Central Bank of Nigeria, Samuel Ladoke Akintola Way. New York Daily News, September 4, 1997.

Naturally, when you have been caught “red handed” with your hand in the cookie jar, there is nowhere to turn but to blame the victim.  Numerous lawsuits filed in the United States have claimed that the Central Bank of Nigeria was an active participant in these frauds and that without their total cooperation and endorsement, they could not take place.  High officials of the Bank appear at closings, which have taken place within the confines of the Central Bank itself, giving the transaction credibility that it would not otherwise be able to generate.

Great works never go unnoticed and it wasn’t long before e-mails were coming out of Afghanistan purportedly from Bradon Curtis a “Special Forces Commando”, whatever that may be. According to the e-mail, he had stumbled upon $36 million in Taliban drug money while on a mission. When he ran across it he was some distance from his comrades so no one saw what he had uncovered. Now, this poor soul was having trouble getting the money out of the country.

Bradon is asking the readers assistance in this substantive problem and in exchange for this help he will share a substantial amount of this drug money. While this sound a little much to believe, according to the FBI, over 2,600 people in the United States in 2001 alone were suckered in by this ploy. The intended victim however obligated to pay advanced legal fees, transportation charges, taxes and bribes. Naturally the scheme ends with the victim losing whatever he put up. The newest twist on the Nigerian theme is the money that a construction worker found in the wreckage of the World Trade Center. All of these scams get their share of victims with most of these losers going uncounted because these people either believe that they were engaging in a financing an illegal operation (i.e. moving drug money  or stealing money belonging to others). Well, we can’t stay they don’t deserve it and we would think that they were criminally stupid to get involved in the first place.



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