“Follow me” numbers.

This is a common trick used by scammers to appear to be in another country.  They register an internet number that appears to be in another country, but are in fact nothing more than premium rate numbers they can access via a browser.  The most common one we see is the UK +4470 (or 070) number.  There have been instances we’ve dealt with where a victim has lost more through their phone bill after calling the number than they lost to the scammer.  These numbers cost the scammer nothing, but the person calling it gets billed BIG TIME.

The answer to “Where do scammers keep their scripted emails?”

This one is easy.  They send it to themselves, either by emailing themselves and adding all their potential victims to the BCC list (blind carbon copy – no one else can see the details of the others emailed), or by emailing themselves at a different email account.  Here’s an example:

From: Us Consulate <us.consulate.off@gmail.com>
To: Us Consulate <us.consulate.off@gmail.com>


A quick way to help spot phishing links.

When you receive an email with a link claiming to be from an official company, hover your mouse pointer over the link and look at the bottom of the browser page.  You’ll see the link appear there.  If it doesn’t match the location it’s claiming to go to, it’s very likely a phishing link used to steal your details.

Who are we?

So let me introduce you to the core group of volunteers who run this site.  Firstly, my name is Wayne and this is my site.  I joined the antiscam community in December of 2005 as a baiter after stumbling into it purely by accident.  Since then I’ve switched my focus from messing with the scammers for fun to helping those who were scammed.  Second (or first, depending on who you talk to) in command is Firefly, a former romance victim who has the most amazing researching skills I’ve ever seen.  She can outGoogle Google.  Slaphappy and I met when I was asked to sit in for Dan Cottrell on his (now defunct) weekly blogtalkradio show, and we’ve formed a friendship that’s lasted over 7 years to date.  Slappy is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met when it comes to helping scam victims.  Big Al is an expert at getting scammer bank accounts closed, and specialises in Senegal scammers.  I believe he’s reported almost 1000 scammer acount since the start of the year.    He likes to refer to the bank accounts as “piggies”.  Completing the group is new boy Newlight.  NL found us after being the victim of a blackmail scam, and now does a lot of the “behind the scenes” work on the forum.  He’s proof that being caught in a blackmail scam is not the end of the world, and can be turned into something good.

So where does the term “419 scam” come from?

We all see the term “419 scam” thrown around, but where does it actually come from?  Its roots are in the Nigerian criminal code, specifically section 419.  Below is that section, as taken from http://www.nigeria-law.org/Criminal%20Code%20Act-Part%20VI%20%20to%20the%20end.htm

419.         Any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

If the thing is of the value of one thousand naira or upwards, he is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

It is immaterial that the thing is obtained or its delivery is induced through the medium of a contract induced by the false pretence.

419A.       Any person who by any false pretence or by means of any other fraud obtains credit for himself or any other person-

 (a)            in incurring any debt or liability; or

 (b)            by means of an entry in a debtor and creditor account between the person giving and the person receiving credit, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

  (2)           The offender cannot be arrested without warrant unless found committing the offence.

419B.       Where in any proceedings for an -offence under section 419 or 419A it is proved that the accused-

 (a)            obtained or induced the delivery of anything capable of being stolen; or

 (b)      obtained credit for himself or any other person, by means of a cheque that, when presented for payment within a reasonable time, was dishonoured on the ground that no funds or insufficient funds were standing to the credit of the drawer of the cheque in the bank on which the cheque was drawn, the thing or its delivery shall be deemed to have been obtained or induced, or the credit shall he deemed to have been obtained, by a false pretence unless the court is satisfied by evidence that when the accused issued the cheque he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did in fact believe, that it would be honoured if presented for payment within a reasonable time after its issue by him.

We can only help people if they’re willing to help themselves.

Over the past 2.5 years we’ve dealt with tens of thousands of cases of online fraud.  One scam in particular we see more than any other, and that’s the blackmail scam.  Through those cases, we’ve come up with the best solution to deal with it.  However, we still get people who ask for our help and then completely ignore it.  Would you go to a mechanic to have your car fixed, have him tell you that you need a new part and then ignore him and decide that all it actually needs is for the windscreen washer fluid to be topped up?  If your doctor told you that you needed a new heart valve, would you go off and just take a few antacids instead?  We’re considered experts for a reason.  Our advice is sound, and it works in almost 100% of cases provided people actually follow the advice.  The kicker is, some then come back after being contacted again by the scammer asking for more advice, despite the fact they completely ignored it the first time.  It’s not rocket science.  Trust the people who know what they’re talking about.

The second email address secret.

Something to note about 419 emails, is that they will often have a different “reply to” address than the one they were sent from.  There’s two reasons for this.  One is that, if the email address being used to send the scam is reported, the one the people reply to will still be open.  Two is that there are programs out there that will allow a person to put anything they want into the field that shows the sender’s email address.  That email you received from the CID, FBI, Interpol or even the President himself with an official email address is much more likely to have been sent from an internet cafe in Lagos using a free website script.

Odd as it sounds, reporting scammers isn’t a good idea.

The first reaction a lot of people have when they get scammed is to report the scammer’s profile to get it shut down.  It sounds like the sensible thing to do, but let’s take a moment to explain why it may be the worst thing you can do.  Sites like this put in a lot of work to get the scammer’s details out into the public domain.  That way, people will be able to search and find the proof that the person they’re talking to is a scammer.  Reporting a profile and having it removed means that any information on antiscam sites are now out of date.  It could even hamper a law enforcement investigation into the scammer.  But that’s not the worst of it.  If a scammer’s profile is deleted, they’re not going to suddenly say “Oh well, time to give up this scamming lark and go find something else to do”.   They simply make a new profile and carry on.  In fact, some scammers have several accounts ready made for this exact reason.  The only times it’s worth reporting something of a scammer’s is if they’ve paid for it or it adds genuine legitimacy to their scam.  We love reporting scammer made websites for example, but avoid getting their free email addresses or social media profiles closed as it’s not going to slow them down.  Better to get their details out to warn others.  It does much more damage to them than the inconvenience of having to take 2 minutes to create a new account, wouldn’t you agree?