Nigerian fraudsters duping victims with lottery schemes

Aug 23, 2013, 01:13 IST | Sandip Kolhatkar

Nigerian fraudsters, in the news before for duping people of money, have changed their modus operandi. They are now sending messages telling victims they have won lotteries worth millions of pounds or dollars

This is the conclusion of the preliminary investigation into three recent cases that left cops scratching their heads. In two separate cases, two individuals from two different sectors of films and real estate respectively have been duped to the tune of Rs 20 lakh in total as the Nigerian impostors physically delivered small-sized vaults containing money at the victims’ doorstep. The money, later, turned out to be fake.

In the first case, an assistant professor from FTII was duped to the tune of Rs 10 lakh by the Nigerian fraudsters after a delivery of a vault containing one million pounds. They took a whopping Rs 9.84 lakh from him claiming custom clearance, managing the police, airport officials and other expenses.
The assistant professor with FTII said that in July 2012 he had received a message stating that he had won one million pounds in a lucky draw by British Petroleum and just had to reply to claim the money.

Well packaged: The wads of notes of millions of fake pounds were delivered to the victims in mini vaults after they had deposited lakhs of rupees into the accounts of the cyber criminals. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

“The complainant, who is a resident of Kothrud, replied to the mail. He was asked for his personal details and a copy of his passport, pan card and other bank details,” said police inspector SM Babar of the cyber crime cell.

He said that complainant was then asked to deposit money into an account over money transfer and to complete the procedure. He was asked to deposit money into various accounts like this.

“Before the delivery of the vault, the fraudsters even called up the complainant saying they have been caught by the police and asked him to deposit money to get rid of the cops,” he said. In December 2012, the complainant received a call and the person at the other end told him to come to Delhi to collect his winning money.

“He then boarded a flight and went to Delhi to Vasant Vihar area where two persons in a car, handed over a vault containing one million pounds. The fraudsters advised him to not take a flight and to travel by train instead,” Babar added.

The next day, after having collected Rs 9.84 lakh from him, the fraudsters asked him to deposit another Rs 6 lakh into an account to be able to afford a chemical, available only at one place abroad, to authenticate the notes.

The complainant then called up his son in the US and asked him for Rs 6 lakh and told him about the pounds he had received as a winning amount.

“His son however, smelled a rat and rushed to India and advised his father not to open the box at home and took him to the cyber cell where sleuths opened the box with the help of Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS),” said Babar.

The 2nd case unearthed by CBI
A real estate consultant and resident of Kondhwa received a call from one Timothy, who introduced himself as an Angolian. Timothy told the real estate consultant that he had some inherited property in his country and proposed involving investment in the real estate business in Angolia to make money.

“He told him that after his father’s death, he settled down in India and secretly got the money from the property into India,”said Babar. The complainant, Timothy and the complainant’s friend met at his residence where a small vault containing one million euros was handed.

“To gain the trust of the complainant, Timothy even showed him how the notes could be valid after the application of a certain chemical,” said the policeman. The complainant was then made to deposit Rs 8 lakh into three different accounts and asked to purchase the expensive chemical, not available in the open market.

After the Rs 8 lakh deposit, Timothy took another Rs 1.5 lakh from him and started pestering him for more money under the name of various expenses. “After a few days, the complainant received an email from an Indian investigating agency stating the FBI is investigating how the money got to India, warning him that he could be arrested,” said Babar.

The complainant then got suspicious and contacted the CBI, who alerted the cyber crime cell in Pune. In July, the cyber crime police arrested three people from Mumbai over the incident, and that is when the connection to the Nigerian fraudsters was found. A hunt is on for the Nigerian cyber criminals.

Cyber experts speak
Advocate Jayashree Nangare, a cyber law attorney said that the fraudsters are using a new modus operandi as till now they communicated with their victims only via SMSes and not emails. She said that people should be diligent when dealing with messages or emails of this kind to not fall prey to such scams.  

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