[Hpn] SCAMMER~ "I WILL EAT YOUR DOLLARS"

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 22 Oct 2005 02:56:45 -0400


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      October 20, 2005        Change text size =20
      COLUMN ONE
      'I Will Eat Your Dollars'
      a.. To the cyber scammers in Nigeria who trawl for victims on the =
Internet, Americans are easy targets. But one thief had second thoughts.

      By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer


      FESTAC, Nigeria - As patient as fishermen, the young men toil day =
and night, trawling for replies to the e-mails they shoot to strangers =
half a world away.

      Most recipients hit delete, delete, delete, delete without ever =
opening the messages that urge them to claim the untold riches of a =
long-lost deceased second cousin, and the messages that offer millions =
of dollars to help smuggle loot stolen by a corrupt Nigerian official =
into a U.S. account.

      But the few who actually reply make this a tempting and lucrative =
business for the boys of Festac, a neighborhood of Lagos at the center =
of the cyber-scam universe. The targets are called maghas - scammer =
slang from a Yoruba word meaning fool, and refers to gullible white =
people.

      Samuel is 19, handsome, bright, well-dressed and ambitious. He has =
a special flair for computers. Until he quit the game last year, he was =
one of Festac's best-known cyber-scam champions.

      Like nearly everyone here, he is desperate to escape the run-down, =
teeming streets, the grimy buildings, the broken refrigerators stacked =
outside, the strings of wet washing. It's the kind of place where =
plainclothes police prowl the streets extorting bribes, where mobs burn =
thieves to death for stealing a cellphone, and where some people paint =
"This House Is Not For Sale" in big letters on their homes, in case =
someone posing as the owner tries to put it on the market.

      It is where places like the Net Express cyber cafe thrive.

      The atmosphere of silent concentration inside the cafe is =
absolute, strangely reminiscent of a university library before exams. =
Except, that is, for the odd guffaw or cheer. The doors are locked from =
10:30 p.m. until 7 a.m., so the cyber thieves can work in peace without =
fear of armed intruders.

      In this sanctum, Samuel says, he extracted thousands of American =
e-mail addresses, sent off thousands of fraudulent letters, and waited =
for replies. He thinks disclosure of his surname could endanger his =
safety.

      The e-mail scammers here prefer hitting Americans, whom they see =
as rich and easy to fool. They rationalize the crime by telling =
themselves there are no real victims: Maghas are avaricious and =
complicit.

      To them, the scams, called 419 after the Nigerian statute against =
fraud, are a game.

      Their anthem, "I Go Chop Your Dollars," hugely popular in Lagos, =
hit the airwaves a few months ago as a CD penned by an artist called =
Osofia:

      "419 is just a game, you are the losers, we are the winners.

      White people are greedy, I can say they are greedy

      White men, I will eat your dollars, will take your money and =
disappear.

      419 is just a game, we are the masters, you are the losers."

      "Nobody feels sorry for the victims," Samuel said.

      Scammers, he said, "have the belief that white men are stupid and =
greedy. They say the American guy has a good life. There's this belief =
that for every dollar they lose, the American government will pay them =
back in some way."

      What makes the scams so tempting for the targets is that they =
promise a tantalizing escape from the mundane disappointments of life. =
The scams offer fabulous riches or the love of your life, but first the =
magha has to send a series of escalating fees and payments. In a dating =
scam, for instance, the fraudsters send pictures taken from modeling =
websites.

      "Is the girl in these pictures really you?? I just can't get over =
your beauty!!!! I can't believe my luck!!!!!!!" one hapless American =
wrote recently to a scammer seeking $1,200.

      The scammer replied, "Would you send the money this week so I may =
buy a ticket?"

      "Aww babe. I don't have the money yet. I will get it, though. =
Don't you worry your pretty lil head, hun," the victim wrote back.

      The real push comes when the fictional girlfriend or fiancee, who =
claims to be in America, goes to Nigeria for business. In a series of =
"mishaps," her wallet is stolen and she is held hostage by the hotel =
owner until she can come up with hundreds of dollars for the bill. She =
needs a new airline ticket, has to bribe churlish customs officials and =
gets caught. Finally, she needs a hefty get-out-of-jail bribe.

      The U.S. Secret Service estimates such schemes net hundreds of =
millions of dollars annually worldwide, with many victims too afraid or =
embarrassed to report their losses.

      Basil Udotai of the government's Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group =
said 419 fraud represents a tiny portion of Nigerian computer crime, but =
is taken seriously by authorities because of the damage it does to the =
country's reputation.

      "The government is not just sitting on its hands," he said. "It's =
very important for the international community to know that Nigeria is =
not glossing over the problem of 419. We are putting together measures =
that will tackle all forms of online crime and give law enforcement =
agencies opportunities to combat it."

      Asishana Okauru, acting director of financial intelligence for the =
government's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said $700 million =
relating to 419 crime had been seized in the two years since the =
establishment of the EFCC. There have been 12 convictions in such cases =
brought during that time, he said. Okauru said he felt this was a good =
result given the sluggishness of Nigeria's legal system, but critics say =
the courts are too slow and corrupt.=20

      Nigerian authorities, extremely sensitive about 419 crime, say the =
scammers are mostly from other countries, and that any Nigerians who =
participate do so because of high unemployment and, above all, the greed =
of victims.=20

      When Samuel, at age 15, sat down in a cyber cafe and started =
drilling away at the keyboard, he had no idea he was being watched by =
one of Festac's cyber-crime wizards. After noting Samuel's speed and =
skill, the crime boss, nicknamed Shepherd, invited him to his mansion to =
try extracting e-mail addresses using search engines. Then, to make =
Samuel feel special, he took him shopping for designer clothes.

      "He's fun to be with. When you're around him he makes you feel you =
have no problems," Samuel said. Shepherd hooked him with the same bait =
he uses for maghas.

      "He said every hour I spent online I could be making good money," =
Samuel recalled. "He said, 'The houses I own, I got it through all =
this.' And they're not just ordinary houses. They're big, made of =
marble. He's got big-screen TVs, a swimming pool inside. He lives like a =
prince. He's the biggest guy in this town."

      A teenager who didn't really know about the scams, Samuel was "a =
bit confused" when Shepherd offered him 20% of the take. "But I looked =
at everything he had, and it got into my head, actually. The money he =
had, the cars."

      Eager to impress his new boss, Samuel worked for six-hour =
stretches extracting e-mail addresses and sending off letters that had =
been composed by a college graduate also working for Shepherd.

      He sent 500 e-mails a day and usually received about seven =
replies. Shepherd would then take over.

      "When you get a reply, it's 70% sure that you'll get the money," =
Samuel said.

      Soon he was working for two bosses, Shepherd and Colosi, both well =
known to authorities but neither of them bothered in a place where =
police involvement in the scams is widely alleged.

      "Most of the time you look for American contacts because of the =
value of the dollar, and because the fraudsters here have contacts in =
America who wrap up the job over there," Samuel said. "For example, the =
offshore people will go to pose as the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S., =
or as government officials. They will show some documents: This has =
presidential backing, this has government backing. And you will be =
convinced because they will tell you in such a way that you won't be =
able to say no."

      After a scam letter surfaced this summer bearing the forged =
signature of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, police raided a =
market in the Oluwole neighborhood of Lagos, one of six main centers =
that provide documents used in the 419 scams. They seized thousands of =
foreign and Nigerian passports, 10,000 blank British Airways tickets, =
10,000 U.S. money orders, customs documents, fake university =
certificates, 500 printing plates and 500 computers. A stolen U.S. =
passport fetches $2,500 on the black market here.

      The scams often involve bogus Internet sites, such as lottery =
websites, or oil company, bank or government sites. The scammers =
sometimes use London phone prefixes to make victims think they are =
calling Britain.

      Though the fraud is apparent to many, some people think they have =
stumbled on a once-in-a-lifetime deal, and scammers can string them =
along for months with mythical difficulties. Some victims eventually =
contribute huge sums of money to save the deal when it is suddenly "at =
risk."

      Stephen Kovacsics of American Citizen Services, an office of the =
U.S. Consulate, spoke to a victim who had lost $200,000.

      Kovacsics says he is awakened several nights a week by Americans =
pleading for help with an emergency, such as a fiancee (whom they have =
only met in an online chat room) locked up in a Nigerian jail. He has to =
tell them that there is probably no fiancee, no emergency.

      Kovacsics said victims can't believe that a scammer would spend =
months of internet chat just to net $700 or $1,000, not realizing that =
is big money in Nigeria and fraudsters will have many scams running at =
the same time.

      By 2003, Shepherd was fleecing 25 to 40 victims a month, Samuel =
said. Samuel never got the 20%, but still made a minimum of $900 a =
month, three times the average income here. At times, he made $6,000 to =
$7,000 a month.

      Samuel said Shepherd employs seven Nigerians in America, including =
one in the San Francisco Bay Area, to spy on maghas and threaten any who =
get cold feet. If a big deal is going off track, he calls in all seven.

      "They're all graduates and very smart," Samuel said. "Four of them =
are graduates in psychology here in Nigeria. If the white guy is getting =
suspicious, he'll call them all in and say, 'Can you finish this off for =
me?'

      "They'll try to scare you that you're not going to get out of it. =
Or you're going to be arrested and you will face trial in Nigeria. =
They'll say: 'We know you were at Wal-Mart yesterday. We know the D.A. =
He's our friend.' "

      "They'll tell you that you are in too deep - you either complete =
it or you'll be killed."

      Samuel said his mother, widowed when he was 16, was devastated =
when she saw him in the street with Shepherd and realized what he was up =
to.

      "She tried to force me to stop, but the more force she applied, =
the more hardened I became. I said: 'You can't give me what I want. I =
want a good life.' "

      But Samuel began having second thoughts when a friend was arrested =
after ripping off a boss for $17,000.

      The friend was badly beaten before disappearing into the depths of =
the labyrinthine Nigerian justice system. Samuel thought of his mother =
and how she would be left alone if something happened to him.

      When he gave up cyber crime at the end of last year, he said =
nothing to his mother. But she noticed.

      "She said she was happy and she could sleep well," he said. =
"Actually, I started crying. I couldn't control myself. I realized there =
was more to life than chasing money."

      Now when he sees Shepherd in the streets, his former boss just =
grins.

      "He says: 'Don't worry. You'll come back to me.' "

      *

      (BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

      The many forms of 419 scams

      Advance-fee frauds, also known as 419, appear to offer a =
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get rich or find the girl of your =
dreams. The scams can involve phony websites, forged documents and =
Nigerians in America posing as government officials. Here are some of =
the most popular:

      .  The "next of kin" scam, tempting you to claim an inheritance of =
millions of dollars in a Nigerian bank belonging to a long-lost =
relative, then collecting money for various bank and transfer fees.

      .  The "laundering crooked money" scam, in which you are promised =
a large commission on a multibillion-dollar fortune, persuaded to open =
an account, contribute funds and sometimes even travel to Nigeria.

      .  The "Nigerian National Petroleum Co." scam, in which the =
scammer offers cheap crude oil, then demands money for commissions and =
bribes.

      .  The "overpayment" scam, in which fraudsters send a bank check =
overpaying for a car or other goods by many thousands of dollars, =
persuading the victim to transfer the difference back to Nigeria.

      .  The "job offer you can't refuse" scam, in which an "oil =
company" offers a job with an overly attractive salary and conditions =
(in one example, $180,000 a year and $300 per hour for overtime) and =
extracts money for visas, permits and other fees.

      .  The "winning ticket in a lottery you never entered" scam - =
including, lately, the State Department's green card lottery.

      .  The "gorgeous person in trouble" scam, in which scammers in =
chat rooms and on Christian dating sites pose as beautiful American or =
Nigerian women, luring lonely men into Internet intimacy over weeks or =
months then asking them to send money to get them out of trouble. =20


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      <DIV class=3Dstorydeckhead>COLUMN ONE</DIV>
      <H1>'I Will Eat Your Dollars'</H1>
      <DIV class=3Dstorysubhead>
      <LI style=3D"LIST-STYLE-POSITION: inside; LIST-STYLE-TYPE: =
square">To the=20
      cyber scammers in Nigeria who trawl for victims on the Internet, =
Americans=20
      are easy targets. But one thief had second =
thoughts.</LI></DIV><BR><SPAN=20
      class=3Dstorybyline>By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff =
Writer<BR><BR></SPAN>
      <DIV class=3Dstorybody>FESTAC, Nigeria =97 As patient as =
fishermen, the young=20
      men toil day and night, trawling for replies to the e-mails they =
shoot to=20
      strangers half a world away.<BR><BR>Most recipients hit delete, =
delete,=20
      delete, delete without ever opening the messages that urge them to =
claim=20
      the untold riches of a long-lost deceased second cousin, and the =
messages=20
      that offer millions of dollars to help smuggle loot stolen by a =
corrupt=20
      Nigerian official into a U.S. account.<BR><BR>But the few who =
actually=20
      reply make this a tempting and lucrative business for the boys of =
Festac,=20
      a neighborhood of Lagos at the center of the cyber-scam universe. =
The=20
      targets are called <I>maghas</I> =97 scammer slang from a Yoruba =
word=20
      meaning fool, and refers to gullible white people.<BR><BR>Samuel =
is 19,=20
      handsome, bright, well-dressed and ambitious. He has a special =
flair for=20
      computers. Until he quit the game last year, he was one of =
Festac's=20
      best-known cyber-scam champions.<BR><BR>Like nearly everyone here, =
he is=20
      desperate to escape the run-down, teeming streets, the grimy =
buildings,=20
      the broken refrigerators stacked outside, the strings of wet =
washing. It's=20
      the kind of place where plainclothes police prowl the streets =
extorting=20
      bribes, where mobs burn thieves to death for stealing a cellphone, =
and=20
      where some people paint "This House Is Not For Sale" in big =
letters on=20
      their homes, in case someone posing as the owner tries to put it =
on the=20
      market.<BR><BR>It is where places like the Net Express cyber cafe=20
      thrive.<BR><BR>The atmosphere of silent concentration inside the =
cafe is=20
      absolute, strangely reminiscent of a university library before =
exams.=20
      Except, that is, for the odd guffaw or cheer. The doors are locked =
from=20
      10:30 p.m. until 7 a.m., so the cyber thieves can work in peace =
without=20
      fear of armed intruders.<BR><BR>In this sanctum, Samuel says, he =
extracted=20
      thousands of American e-mail addresses, sent off thousands of =
fraudulent=20
      letters, and waited for replies. He thinks disclosure of his =
surname could=20
      endanger his safety.<BR><BR>The e-mail scammers here prefer =
hitting=20
      Americans, whom they see as rich and easy to fool. They =
rationalize the=20
      crime by telling themselves there are no real victims: <I>Maghas =
</I>are=20
      avaricious and complicit.<BR><BR>To them, the scams, called 419 =
after the=20
      Nigerian statute against fraud, are a game.<BR><BR>Their anthem, =
"I Go=20
      Chop Your Dollars," hugely popular in Lagos, hit the airwaves a =
few months=20
      ago as a CD penned by an artist called Osofia:<BR><BR>"419 is just =
a game,=20
      you are the losers, we are the winners.<BR><BR>White people are =
greedy, I=20
      can say they are greedy<BR><BR>White men, I will eat your dollars, =
will=20
      take your money and disappear.<BR><BR>419 is just a game, we are =
the=20
      masters, you are the losers."<BR><BR>"Nobody feels sorry for the =
victims,"=20
      Samuel said.<BR><BR>Scammers, he said, "have the belief that white =
men are=20
      stupid and greedy. They say the American guy has a good life. =
There's this=20
      belief that for every dollar they lose, the American government =
will pay=20
      them back in some way."<BR><BR>What makes the scams so tempting =
for the=20
      targets is that they promise a tantalizing escape from the mundane =

      disappointments of life. The scams offer fabulous riches or the =
love of=20
      your life, but first the <I>magha </I>has to send a series of =
escalating=20
      fees and payments. In a dating scam, for instance, the fraudsters =
send=20
      pictures taken from modeling websites.<BR><BR>"Is the girl in =
these=20
      pictures really you?? I just can't get over your beauty!!!! I =
can't=20
      believe my luck!!!!!!!" one hapless American wrote recently to a =
scammer=20
      seeking $1,200.<BR><BR>The scammer replied, "Would you send the =
money this=20
      week so I may buy a ticket?"<BR><BR>"Aww babe. I don't have the =
money yet.=20
      I will get it, though. Don't you worry your pretty lil head, hun," =
the=20
      victim wrote back.<BR><BR>The real push comes when the fictional=20
      girlfriend or fiancee, who claims to be in America, goes to =
Nigeria for=20
      business. In a series of "mishaps," her wallet is stolen and she =
is held=20
      hostage by the hotel owner until she can come up with hundreds of =
dollars=20
      for the bill. She needs a new airline ticket, has to bribe =
churlish=20
      customs officials and gets caught. Finally, she needs a hefty=20
      get-out-of-jail bribe.<BR><BR>The U.S. Secret Service estimates =
such=20
      schemes net hundreds of millions of dollars annually worldwide, =
with many=20
      victims too afraid or embarrassed to report their =
losses.<BR><BR>Basil=20
      Udotai of the government's Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group said =
419=20
      fraud represents a tiny portion of Nigerian computer crime, but is =
taken=20
      seriously by authorities because of the damage it does to the =
country's=20
      reputation.<BR><BR>"The government is not just sitting on its =
hands," he=20
      said. "It's very important for the international community to know =
that=20
      Nigeria is not glossing over the problem of 419. We are putting =
together=20
      measures that will tackle all forms of online crime and give law=20
      enforcement agencies opportunities to combat it."<BR><BR>Asishana =
Okauru,=20
      acting director of financial intelligence for the government's =
Economic=20
      and Financial Crimes Commission, said $700 million relating to 419 =
crime=20
      had been seized in the two years since the establishment of the =
EFCC.=20
      There have been 12 convictions in such cases brought during that =
time, he=20
      said. Okauru said he felt this was a good result given the =
sluggishness of=20
      Nigeria's legal system, but critics say the courts are too slow =
and=20
      corrupt. <STRONG><BR><BR></STRONG>Nigerian authorities, extremely=20
      sensitive about 419 crime, say the scammers are mostly from other=20
      countries, and that any Nigerians who participate do so because of =
high=20
      unemployment and, above all, the greed of victims.=20
      <STRONG><BR><BR></STRONG>When Samuel, at age 15, sat down in a =
cyber cafe=20
      and started drilling away at the keyboard, he had no idea he was =
being=20
      watched by one of Festac's cyber-crime wizards. After noting =
Samuel's=20
      speed and skill, the crime boss, nicknamed Shepherd, invited him =
to his=20
      mansion to try extracting e-mail addresses using search engines. =
Then, to=20
      make Samuel feel special, he took him shopping for designer=20
      clothes.<BR><BR>"He's fun to be with. When you're around him he =
makes you=20
      feel you have no problems," Samuel said. Shepherd hooked him with =
the same=20
      bait he uses for <I>maghas</I>.<BR><BR>"He said every hour I spent =
online=20
      I could be making good money," Samuel recalled. "He said, 'The =
houses I=20
      own, I got it through all this.' And they're not just ordinary =
houses.=20
      They're big, made of marble. He's got big-screen TVs, a swimming =
pool=20
      inside. He lives like a prince. He's the biggest guy in this=20
      town."<BR><BR>A teenager who didn't really know about the scams, =
Samuel=20
      was "a bit confused" when Shepherd offered him 20% of the take. =
"But I=20
      looked at everything he had, and it got into my head, actually. =
The money=20
      he had, the cars."<BR><BR>Eager to impress his new boss, Samuel =
worked for=20
      six-hour stretches extracting e-mail addresses and sending off =
letters=20
      that had been composed by a college graduate also working for=20
      Shepherd.<BR><BR>He sent 500 e-mails a day and usually received =
about=20
      seven replies. Shepherd would then take over.<BR><BR>"When you get =
a=20
      reply, it's 70% sure that you'll get the money," Samuel =
said.<BR><BR>Soon=20
      he was working for two bosses, Shepherd and Colosi, both well =
known to=20
      authorities but neither of them bothered in a place where police=20
      involvement in the scams is widely alleged.<BR><BR>"Most of the =
time you=20
      look for American contacts because of the value of the dollar, and =
because=20
      the fraudsters here have contacts in America who wrap up the job =
over=20
      there," Samuel said. "For example, the offshore people will go to =
pose as=20
      the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S., or as government officials. =
They will=20
      show some documents: This has presidential backing, this has =
government=20
      backing. And you will be convinced because they will tell you in =
such a=20
      way that you won't be able to say no."<BR><BR>After a scam letter =
surfaced=20
      this summer bearing the forged signature of Nigerian President =
Olusegun=20
      Obasanjo, police raided a market in the Oluwole neighborhood of =
Lagos, one=20
      of six main centers that provide documents used in the 419 scams. =
They=20
      seized thousands of foreign and Nigerian passports, 10,000 blank =
British=20
      Airways tickets, 10,000 U.S. money orders, customs documents, fake =

      university certificates, 500 printing plates and 500 =
computers.<STRONG>=20
      </STRONG>A stolen U.S. passport fetches $2,500 on the black market =

      here.<BR><BR>The scams often involve bogus Internet sites, such as =
lottery=20
      websites, or oil company, bank or government sites. The scammers =
sometimes=20
      use London phone prefixes to make victims think they are calling=20
      Britain.<BR><BR>Though the fraud is apparent to many, some people =
think=20
      they have stumbled on a once-in-a-lifetime deal, and scammers can =
string=20
      them along for months with mythical difficulties. Some victims =
eventually=20
      contribute huge sums of money to save the deal when it is suddenly =
"at=20
      risk."<BR><BR>Stephen Kovacsics of American Citizen Services, an =
office of=20
      the U.S. Consulate,<STRONG> </STRONG>spoke to a victim who had =
lost=20
      $200,000.<BR><BR>Kovacsics says he is awakened several nights a =
week by=20
      Americans pleading for help with an emergency, such as a fiancee =
(whom=20
      they have only met in an online chat room) locked up in a Nigerian =
jail.=20
      He has to tell them that there is probably no fiancee, no=20
      emergency.<BR><BR>Kovacsics said victims can't believe that a =
scammer=20
      would spend months of internet chat just to net $700 or $1,000, =
not=20
      realizing that is big money in Nigeria and fraudsters will have =
many scams=20
      running at the same time.<BR><BR>By 2003, Shepherd was fleecing 25 =
to 40=20
      victims a month, Samuel said. Samuel never got the 20%, but still =
made a=20
      minimum of $900 a month, three times the average income here. At =
times, he=20
      made $6,000 to $7,000 a month.<BR><BR>Samuel said Shepherd employs =
seven=20
      Nigerians in America, including one in the San Francisco Bay Area, =
to spy=20
      on <I>maghas </I>and threaten any who get cold feet. If a big deal =
is=20
      going off track, he calls in all seven.<BR><BR>"They're all =
graduates and=20
      very smart," Samuel said. "Four of them are graduates in =
psychology here=20
      in Nigeria. If the white guy is getting suspicious, he'll call =
them all in=20
      and say, 'Can you finish this off for me?'<BR><BR>"They'll try to =
scare=20
      you that you're not going to get out of it. Or you're going to be =
arrested=20
      and you will face trial in Nigeria. They'll say: 'We know you were =
at=20
      Wal-Mart yesterday. We know the D.A. He's our friend.' =
"<BR><BR>"They'll=20
      tell you that you are in too deep =97 you either complete it or =
you'll be=20
      killed."<BR><BR>Samuel said his mother, widowed when he was 16, =
was=20
      devastated when she saw him in the street with Shepherd and =
realized what=20
      he was up to.<BR><BR>"She tried to force me to stop, but the more =
force=20
      she applied, the more hardened I became. I said: 'You can't give =
me what I=20
      want. I want a good life.' "<BR><BR>But Samuel began having second =

      thoughts when a friend was arrested after ripping off a boss for=20
      $17,000.<BR><BR>The friend was badly beaten before disappearing =
into the=20
      depths of the labyrinthine Nigerian justice system. Samuel thought =
of his=20
      mother and how she would be left alone if something happened to=20
      him.<BR><BR>When he gave up cyber crime at the end of last year, =
he said=20
      nothing to his mother. But she noticed.<BR><BR>"She said she was =
happy and=20
      she could sleep well," he said. "Actually, I started crying. I =
couldn't=20
      control myself. I realized there was more to life than chasing=20
      money."<BR><BR>Now when he sees Shepherd in the streets, his =
former boss=20
      just grins.<BR><BR>"He says: 'Don't worry. You'll come back to =
me.'=20
      "<BR><BR>*<BR><BR>(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)<BR><BR>The many forms of =
419=20
      scams<BR><BR>Advance-fee frauds, also known as 419, appear to =
offer a=20
      once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get rich or find the girl of =
your=20
      dreams. The scams can involve phony websites, forged documents and =

      Nigerians in America posing as government officials. Here are some =
of the=20
      most popular:<BR><BR>=95&nbsp; The "next of kin" scam, tempting =
you to claim=20
      an inheritance of millions of dollars in a Nigerian bank belonging =
to a=20
      long-lost relative, then collecting money for various bank and =
transfer=20
      fees.<BR><BR>=95&nbsp; The "laundering crooked money" scam, in =
which you are=20
      promised a large commission on a multibillion-dollar fortune, =
persuaded to=20
      open an account, contribute funds and sometimes even travel to=20
      Nigeria.<BR><BR>=95&nbsp; The "Nigerian National Petroleum Co." =
scam, in=20
      which the scammer offers cheap crude oil, then demands money for=20
      commissions and bribes.<BR><BR>=95&nbsp; The "overpayment" scam, =
in which=20
      fraudsters send a bank check overpaying for a car or other goods =
by many=20
      thousands of dollars, persuading the victim to transfer the =
difference=20
      back to Nigeria.<BR><BR>=95&nbsp; The "job offer you can't refuse" =
scam, in=20
      which an "oil company" offers a job with an overly attractive =
salary and=20
      conditions (in one example, $180,000 a year and $300 per hour for=20
      overtime) and extracts money for visas, permits and other=20
      fees.<BR><BR>=95&nbsp; The "winning ticket in a lottery you never =
entered"=20
      scam =97 including, lately, the State Department's green card=20
      lottery.<BR><BR>=95&nbsp; The "gorgeous person in trouble" scam, =
in which=20
      scammers in chat rooms and on Christian dating sites pose as =
beautiful=20
      American or Nigerian women, luring lonely men into Internet =
intimacy over=20
      weeks or months then asking them to send money to get them out of =
trouble.=20
      </DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV>
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