"Love, what about the family? I am Mrs. Lorena Elonso, from Spain, I am writing to you about my intention to use my money (3.5 million euros) for charitable work in your country."
The term Nigerian Connection has been used for years as a synonym for fraud. Since 1988, letters have been sent worldwide by e-mail and since the mid-nineties by e-mail, with large sums being promised to recipients to help African businessmen save huge amounts of dollars from the country. This should be several million dollars on a regular basis, and the share that should go down to the recipient is in the millions. This concerns fraud, in particular to charge fraud in advance, after an article mentioned in the Nigerian law code also 419 (four one niner) mentioned.
This part of an e-mail ended up at the cantonal police Thurgau about two weeks ago. "I've had cancer, I want to know if I can trust you to use these funds for charitable purposes, less privileges, orphanages," the e-mail says.
The police warned: "If you receive such an e-mail, you should immediately remove it and not reply under any circumstances, as these are cheaters," says Daniel Meili, spokesperson for Kapo Thurgau.
The promise of a lot of money
But Meili answers the e-mail and claims sympathy with the scammers, wants to know more about Lorena. He pretends to be Hans Muster, calling himself Hänsli later. "Even if the whole thing seems entertaining, we first want to make people aware," says Meili. That is why Kapo Thurgau posts the complete e-mail history on their Facebook page. It happens time after time that people fall for such fraud. "I want to try to show how these scammers behave", Meili said.
It is probably an attempt at fraud beforehand. The victims have promised a lot of money. But first an advance has to be paid to the fraudsters who have to pay fees or something like that. "Once this amount has been transferred, the money will of course be lost forever," Meili said.
A nice police spokesman
And indeed, Lorena asks Hänsli to provide his bank details and other confidential information and refers him to an English speaking lawyer named Pablo Hernandez, who will handle the case. And this quickly shows that Hänsli should transfer his information as soon as possible. Hänsli does that too. But as a 72-year-old pensioner, it lacks a bit of English. So Hänsli answers the question, from which country he comes, that he does not really like country music. "So I have to admit that I have to laugh a lot when I write these mails", said the police spokesman. Nevertheless, consciousness is always at the forefront.
Meaningless work for the cheaters
Meili wants at least to continue until the fraudsters demand the advance. "Then we will look." At some point, but you will certainly put the cards on the table and make the scammers realize that they are just trying to beat the police.
But keeping the scammers on account must be virtually impossible. "These groups have years of experience with such things and know how to fade their tracks," says Meili. Behind it is probably the so-called "Nigeria Connection" (see box), which has been operating these fraud activities professionally since the 1980s.
Now it is remarkable how the experiment takes place and is pleased that it can deal with the fraudsters, at least for a while pointless.