Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Organized crime over the internet has taken millions of victims for millions of dollars, and the crime goes on largely unchecked.  With wide ranging levels of sophistication and scam tactics, it seems no one and no website is immune from internet scams and fraud.  Doctors, lawyer, professors and even police officers have reported being scam victims to Nigerian fraud, and as the criminals improve their methods, scam victims are actually increasing.  Although education and aware about fraud online has grown, the criminals are staying one step ahead.  It is the crime that won’t die.

Nigeria private investigators and law enforcement agencies including the FBI have warned internet users about the risk for Nigeria 419 fraud, romance scams, and business fraud that takes place via the internet.  With scam victims rising in number, embassies and government agencies are trying to get control of the situation, as West Africa police have had little impact in the criminal operations.

Women and senior citizens in developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the U.K. and the United States are the most targeted victims.  Scams can take the form of romance, business or investment, and both individuals and businesses are targeted.  Think you can’t be a victim?  Experts say in many Nigerian fraud cases, the word Nigeria is never even mentioned.  Criminals now have accomplices working in the U.K. and U.S., Spain and Malaysia.  They may have a London address, phone, accent, British passport and so on.  Detecting who is a fraud and who is real is becoming more difficult.  In many cases, only an experienced private investigator or investigation company can verify the information and get the evidence.

Profiles and information found over the internet is so easy to fake, it can be hard to know what is real information and what is false.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter, Linkedin and countless others, including and other romance sites, are great places for criminals to hunt for their victims, and post false profiles that attract their prey.  They may even contact you or your company directly, offering a professional and convincing business proposal or investment.  Many victims report they had no way to know.  Everything seemed legitimate, and then their money was gone.  In other cases the criminal is after only information, to be used for identity theft and other crime.

Experts say be very skeptical of profiles online that seem too good to be true, whether it’s business or personal.  Although there are many legitimate gold and oil deals occurring in West Africa, investigators say due to the high risk, it is essential to verify all people and businesses for any deal, offer or relationship in Africa pertaining to gold, mining or the oil and gas industry.

Private investigators at the most professional firms around the world advise internet users to be extremely careful, as they are not just talking about being brokenhearted, which is bad, but what is worse is losing everything you have worked so hard for: life savings, self esteem, a loyal wife or husband, your children, friends… and more.  International investigators have seen it all, and individuals and businesses are urged to verify first, and then decide if the relationship is worth pursuing.  Too often investigators see clients seek help after the damage has been done.  To be safe, proceed with caution and verify international relationships.  When communicating with companies or persons in West Africa, especially Nigeria, consult a professional for advice.  A professional private investigation company can lower your risk, and keep you safe.

Best of luck,

A Hathaway
© 2012 A Hathaway

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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.