Wednesday, May 9, 2007

International Scams and the new Methodology

So you've heard about the Nigeria 419 scam, and about the Russian and Philippine brides-to-be scamming American and European men out of thousands. You're street smart, and you're not going to fall for some foolish game. You won't be sending money off to Africa. You wonder, how can anyone be so foolish, to send thousands of dollars off to Ghana, Nigeria, Russia, the Philippines, Colombia or South Africa, to someone they've never even met? All you need is a little common sense, you say. But, is it really that simple to prevent? Does it really take a fool?

There are approximately 2 billion Internet users worldwide. Many have just recently discovered the world wide web. Many are senior citizens, many are honest, hard working and trusting folks who expect the same of others. The truth is, advance fee fraud has come along way since the early days of emails claiming the individual has won big, or has been selected to participate in an amazing business opportunity, with the only catch being the advance fee to release the winnings, the cash, etc. Sure, the public is more educated now about scams. So, why then is the number of victims rising rapidly in almost every country in the world?

Wymoo International, an international background check and investigative firm, recently reported on the methodology and fraud schemes employed, and how so many intelligent people worldwide become victims. According to David Wilkerson, Vice President of Wymoo, "criminals have evolved advance fee fraud into endless variations and use sophisticated techniques to conceal their identity. They seek out their victims on dating websites such as and countless others, where they proceed to establish long and seemingly meaningful relationships via the Internet. They make phone calls to the victim; they send flowers; they send email and instant messages. In other words, they invest significant time in their scam and victim. They may claim to be a doctor or relief worker in Africa. They may claim to be in love and making arrangements to leave the country. Or, they may have been in a terrible accident and need financial support, etc." In response to whether or not it takes a fool, Wilkerson replied that "victims are from all walks of life, doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, pilots to single mothers. Bottom line is that the criminals are professionals and very convincing." A scammer may work a plot for up to 6 months or even 1 year before requesting money. And a professional scammer in Africa or E. Europe can earn up to $200,000 USD annually.

What does all this mean? Approach relationships via the Internet with a skeptical eye. Beware of requests for money from persons in another country if you have never met that person. Lastly, even if you think you truly know the person, and you have every reason to trust him or her, get the professional background check. The hardest thing about being in this business, says Wilkerson, is too many clients get the background check after the fact, rather than being skeptical and safe from the beginning.

Play it safe,

A. Hathaway
Different Themes
Posted by the Investigators

This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, A. Hathaway, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as noted.