Have you ever received a message from a random person online telling you how they need your help, or that they want to pursue a relationship with you? well, that individual was probably a Nigerian scammer, angling to fleece you off your money and your dignity.
The long arm of the law has however, caught up with a number of these online scammers, culminating in the extradition of six Nigerians from South Africa to Mississippi to face a nine-count federal indictment for their alleged role in various internet fraud schemes. The case involves a total of 20 defendants who, have allegedly helped run a nearly 15-year-long series of Internet scams.
The defendants are charged with with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, use of unauthorized account access devices, theft of U.S. government funds and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charges stem from the participation of the individuals in numerous internet schemes ranging from romance scams, re-shipping scams, fraudulent check scams and work-at-home scams, as well as bank, financial and credit card account takeovers. The cons used the dating site Seniorpeoplemeet.com to meet victims. The website is designed to cater for singles seeking mature dating.
In one instance in 2011, the individuals opened a fraudulent AT&T account using the account information of a victim, then used it to buy two BlackBerry Torch smartphones with a credit card stolen from a second victim. They then shipped the phones to a third victim, with instructions on how to ship the devices to South Africa. The victim believed they were actually shipping the items abroad for charitable purposes according to USA Today. Three defendants have already been convicted for their roles while six await trial and two remain on the run.
Source: US Department of Justice