African Scammers Exposed
I would say most people who are active online regularly receive scam emails promising them millions of dollars if they just reply to an email. Most people these days should know these are just “Nigerian Scams” but some are still getting entrapped even though these scams are well known and have been around for a long time.
As people have gotten wise to the issues of the “Nigerian Scams” so the scammers have adapted their tactics. I am writing this article mainly due to a close associate having their passport used in a scam recently. The individual found out what had happened when the victim contacted them wanting to know if they were the person they had been sending money to. I have also dealt with several cases recently where experienced businessmen have lost a lot of money in more elaborate scams that they believed to be legitimate deals. Hopefully this article will help to high-light the issues of these African scammers and give you the details of a few people to avoid!
The Original Nigerian Scam
The basic of what has come to be known as the “Nigerian Scam” is where the person being targeted is promised a lot of money if they just do the scammer a favor and help them pay some small amount of money to get large amount of money released, transferred etc. When the person being targeted pays one small amount the scammer will ask for another, and another until the victim quits paying or runs out of money.
The reasons why the people being targeted pay is because of their own greed, as they want to make easy money, that in reality does not exist or that they have become emotionally attached to the fake profile the scammer is using to get their trust, and they honestly believe they are helping someone who is a friend.
I will talk more about the “emotional hook” next as this tactic is the favored approach by scammers targeting everyday people. The “emotional hook” can be more complicated and time consuming but can provide the scammers, at least for a while, with regular income.
The Greed Hook
The “greed hook” is where the person being targeted will keep paying amounts of money for lawyer’s fees, transfer fees etc. to get a large sum of money released. They keep paying as they are hoping to regain the money they have paid out, but never do… Most go into denial when they are told they have been scammed as they don’t believe it could happen to them. The scammers also usually try to implicate the person being targeted in some type of crime or shady deal, as this gives them some protection from the person being targeted going to the police.
With the “greed hook” I am not going to use the word “victim” as the person being targeted should understand the risks and is making the decision to send the money to the scammers in the hope of making millions in free money. This is also a problem for law enforcement as the person being scammed were acting on their own free will, they were not forced to do anything…
The Emotional Hook
The emotional hook is where the scammers will forge a personal relationship with the victim making them think they are in a relationship with someone who cares about them. I have seen examples of this that were both purely online and others that were physical relationships.
I know of one case in US where a woman in her 70’s hooked on to a fairly wealthy man in his early 90’s and took him for a lot of money. The scam was simple, she showed him some attention, built up a relationship and made up a story how she was owed millions of dollars by the US government etc. due to a law suit but needed attorney fees to get the money released. The old guy was lonely, did not get along with his family and was happy for the attention so gave this lady the money she asked for.
I spoke with him personally and he believed the story she was telling him and when presented with a background check showing the woman had Federal convictions for racketeering and fraud, and that the attorney letters she had shown him were from an attorney that did not exist he dismissed them as just his family interfering with his business. From what I understand from the family she wiped him out of cash, but he was obviously emotionally attached to her and she gave him the attention and something to focus on, even if it was all a lie.
Scammers have flourished since the internet has become freely accessible to virtually everyone. I must get several offers a day of tens of millions of dollars if I just reply to an email in my spam folder from someone I never heard of with a dodgy name and email address… But scammers are evolving…
An associate of mine contacted me recently to tell me a story of how his identity was stolen, which these days is pretty common but his was stolen by someone he knew and the person who was scammed was able to locate him. The scammers were stupid enough to use a cover story that fitted his life perfectly which enabled the victim to find and contact him.
My associate received a message from a young lady on Facebook asking if he knew her etc., which he did not. After some polite questions the lady sent him a photo of a copy of his passport with someone else’s photo on it. My associate initially though that the lady herself was a scammer and she was going to try to shake him down for something. After further questioning it was clear she had been scammed out of €1200 Euro by someone using his passport with someone else’s photo on it, photo below!
My associate was concerned his passport was being used and wanted to find out who was behind the scam. He works in the international security business, travels regularly which means it can be difficult to keep control of his passport, many hotels take copies when checking in to start with. On close inspection he saw the photo was one that he had taken himself and there were only two people he had sent it to for business purposes.
“I had only sent copies of my passport to two people in the last few years, one to arrange flights and the other to put in a proposal for a government contract. Many places ask for proof of ID when submitting contacts etc. Even when applying for some visas you have to send your passport to the respective country’s Embassy as I did several times for visas for Nigeria. The company that needed the passport for flight arrangements is 100% trusted and the risk of stealing such a small amount, jeopardizing their reputation would not be worth the return for them.
All the indicators and trails pointed to the scammer being someone who I classed as a friend, had known them over 5 years and had done business with. I had worked with Obinna Saint Obiwuru in Nigeria, know him personally, lived in the same house and met his family, and would not have thought him capable of doing something so stupid. He and his girlfriend Nancy Bar had asked me to submit a proposal for a state contract in Anambra State, Nigeria. As I said I have known Obinna Saint Obiwuru for over 5 years and his girlfriend Nancy Bar was working as a Lawyer for the Ikwueto Law Firm in Abuja (http://www.ikwueto.net/) so, they were not strangers and as trustworthy as second tier friends could be. Their photos are below!
How I knew it was them? Because the cover story used for the profile for the scam fit my experience and lifestyle 100%, so much so that the victim was able to find me and knew certain things about me that only someone who knew me personally would know. If the passport had been stolen by or sold to a stranger, they would not have known these personal details about me.
They had used a fake Facebook profile with photos of an American soldier to contact and build a friendship with the lady they scammed. I have spoken with her and she is a very decent woman who believed she was helping someone who needed a loan for €1200 to help their sick child. When in reality Obinna Saint Obiwuru and Nancy Bar were blowing the money on their Abuja ”Bling Bling” lifestyles.
The lady has reported the incident to the police in her country, which is a place where traditional values are held in high-regard and such scammers getting a bullet in the head would not concern the police too much.
The stupidity of Obinna Saint Obiwuru and Nancy Bar is amazing… Nancy Bar is now studying in Brisbane, Australia on a student visa and Obinna Saint Obiwuru is applying for student visas for the United States and other countries. I have been helping Obinna and sent some small business his way and would have helped him in the future but, he was stupid. He is trying to get into politics, but I think this incident proves he’s an idiot and a liability, so whether you’re a Nigerian politician or scammer I would not say he is an asset to your operation…
I am happy to talk to the police about this and we are reaching out to relevant law enforcement agencies. Also if anyone knows the American soldier in the below photos and on my passport, I think he needs to be informed his images have been used in a scam.”
The lady who was scammed in this case honestly believed she was helping someone in need and there are many others like her. There are still plenty of people in the world who will help someone in need or in a crisis, especially if they have formed some type of connection with them. The scammers know this and exploit it to the full, it’s sad but these days you can not trust strangers or people you meet online, period!
Scammers are constantly looking for potential victims on social media and dating sights, click here to check my article on sextortion another scammer tactic!
The Business Hook
Another angle for the scammer is the “Business Hook”, this is where an apparently legitimate business deal can end up with investors getting ripped off, the deal can be real, but the investors will just lose their investments and any assets they have paid for.
This scam has multiple angles and a common one is an investor is befriended over time and offered to participate in project, let’s say buying mining equipment for a project in Africa and their return would be a percentage of the mine. The investor would purchase and ship the equipment to the mine paying for shipping, customs fees and taxes on the equipment. Then when the equipment is at the final location it could be stolen, seized by the government or those they are dealing with would just disappear.
I know of one case when several million dollars’ worth of construction machinery was purchased in Europe and shipped to Tunisia . When the machinery was in country the loan payments stopped, and the company that supplied the equipment was unable to repossess it as those who bought the machinery had proof of ownership for it in Tunisia. So, if they tried to repossess the machinery, they would be committing theft in Tunisia. All they could do was take civil action against the company they sold the machinery to, however by that time the purchasing company had been dissolved.
I have spoken with several people who have had issues with business deals in the area of minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. One name that had popped up several times is John Tomakilunda Matumuene a Congolese business man who is involved in scams involving conflict minerals form the DRC. Investors are usually introduced or approached by a middle man, in the US a name that has appeared is Mr. Fior Muyinda, a Congolese national with US citizenship living in the Dallas, Texas area.
After the investment projects are explained the final business meetings are held in Dar Es Salam in Tanzania where the investors are shown the assets they are buying and explained what is expected from them and the returns. As soon as they make the initial investment the problems begin, which always require more money to solve. The result is the investors lose the assets and their investment and usually have little legal recourse due to deals being done in several countries all with complexed and questionable legal systems.
Another person who appeared on our radar during this investigation was Pedro Zikudia Ndambala a Congolese or Angolan national with Italian citizenship and a conviction for falsifying papers in Italy. He appears to be another middle man who seeks potential victims to scam and works with John Tomakilunda Matumuene, they all seem to live the jet set lifestyle with no apparent means of legitimate income…
I am sure many reading this article will question why people do business in 3rd world countries with questionable reputations, well because there is money to be made. There are a lot of opportunities in the emerging markets and a lot of risk that needs to be considered.
Defense / Offense
The best defense against scammers is being aware of the problem and not dealing with strangers who approach you online and from a business perspective always doing proper and thorough due diligence.
It’s a sad fact the law enforcement agencies tend to not be very interested in assisting those that have been the victims of scammers. Legally the fact that most of the scams involve small amounts of money that were sent to international locations willingly, there is not a lot law enforcement can do. In the above case of Obinna Saint Obiwuru and Nancy Bar it’s clear the crime of identity theft has taken place but in most cases the scammers are not as stupid as this pair and take precautions, so they cannot be identified.
As this article contains the names and identities of individuals that people need to be very wary associating with, I am happy to share the details of the cases with law enforcement agencies if they are interested. If the individuals mentioned wish to sue me, stalk me or do voodoo on me then please feel free to do so!
Florida Private Investigation Licenses
FL PI Agency # A 1800196 – FL PI # C 1800115