By Odunewu Segun
A new group of international internet fraudster has devised new ways of extorting money from unsuspecting Nigerians, especially forex traders, using unscrupulous law enforcement agents.
According to information reaching National Daily, the scheme starts with a routine text message alert to an unsuspecting forex dealer informing him that his account has just been credited.
The transfers made to the accounts of victims are often funds stolen from accounts of individuals and corporations based in Europe or the US by a conspiracy ring of wire fraudsters based in Asia, Europe and Nigeria.
Once the money is stolen, they contact their Nigerian counterparts, who provide them with accounts of victims, typically unsuspecting customers with whom they regularly trade forex.
Once the account number is provided, funds are transferred into the accounts of these victims, with the intention of immediate extortion.
Unbeknownst to the unsuspecting person, the transfer into their bank account is the first stage of a grand conspiracy of extortion from internet fraudsters, in conjunction with rogue security agents in the country.
After receiving the text message, security agents appear at the residents of the unsuspecting alert receivers, accusing them of financial fraud. Bewildered, the victims are whisked away and locked up for financial fraud.
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In one of the most intriguing form of internet wire fraud, the amount transferred into the accounts of the victims is just a decoy as they already know that it will soon be traced by Interpol and possibly returned to the original victim who was robbed.
Before Interpol swoops in, the rogue security agents and the wire ring lock up the unsuspecting victims, forcing them to cough up thousands, if not millions of naira in cash to get out of jail albeit for the time being. As the extortion continues, the account of the victim is frozen until the funds are either seized or returned to security agencies abroad.
By the time the operation is over, victims are duped of thousands of naira by people they have come to know so well.
The report claims the Nigerians allegedly impersonated actual account holders in emails exchanged with banking and financial services personnel. Through the email conversations, the suspects “… harvested details about the target accounts, including account balances, and obtained wire transfer instructions.”
Once they obtain the details, the information received is used to initiate a wire transfer without the account holder’s knowledge or authorization. The indictment also said that the money was moved through a series of accounts using “money mules,” or people who may or may not have known they were assisting in the transfer;