Scam Victim Stories
Many of the victim scam stories below were gathered threw out the internet and compiled. The source will be posted along with the story.
Woman loses $400,000 to a 419 Inheritance Scam
Photo of Janella Spears, a Oregon woman who lost a whooping $400,000 to a Nigerian Scammer
Janella Spears, a registered nurse from Sweet Home, Oregon, said she started sending money to the scammers in 2005 after she received an email promising her several million dollars from a long-lost relative. In what is commonly known as a 419 scam – named after a section of the Nigerian criminal code – the fraudsters randomly contacted Spears over the internet, claiming they would offer her a substantial cut of $20.5m fortune in return for the cash injection which would help move it out of the country.
For Spears, it started, as it almost always does, with an e-mail. It promised $20 million and in this case, the money was supposedly left behind by her grandfather (J.B. Spears), with whom the family had lost contact over the years.
“So that’s what got me to believe it,” she said.
Spears didn’t know how the sender knew J.B. Spears’ name and her relation to him, but her curiosity was peaked.
It turned out to be a lot of money up front, but it started with just $100.The scammers ran Spears through the whole program. They said President Bush and FBI Director “Robert Muller” (their spelling) were in on the deal and needed her help. They sent official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and even from the United Nations. Her payment was “guaranteed.” Then the amount she would get jumped up to $26.6 million – if she would just send $8,300.
Spears sent the money.
More promises and teases of multi-millions followed, with each one dependent on her sending yet more money. Most of the missives were rife with misspellings. When Spears began to doubt the scam, she got letters from the President of Nigeria, FBI Director Mueller, and President Bush. Terrorists could get the money if she did not help, Bush’s letter said. Spears continued to send funds. All the letters were fake, of course, and she continued to wipe out her husband’s retirement account, mortgaged the house and took a lien out on the family car. Both were already paid for.
For more than two years, Spears sent tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone she knew, including law enforcement officials, her family and bank officials, told her to stop, that it was all a scam. She persisted.
An undercover investigator who worked on the case said greed helped blind Spears to the reality of the situation, which he called the worst example of the scam he’s ever seen.
He also said he has seen people become obsessed with the scam before. They are so desperate to recoup their losses with the big payout, they descend into a vicious cycle of sending money in hopes the false promises will turn out to be real.
Spears said it would take her at least three to four years to dig out of the debt she ran up in pursuit of the non-existent pot of Nigerian gold.
The Biggest Nigerian Scam Ever Documented
Photo of Banco Noroeste S.A.
Banco Noroeste S.A. was a Brazilian bank at the centre of the 419 scam, which was described as the “single biggest advanced fee fraud case in the whole world” by the former chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu. Between May 1995 and February 1998, a total of US$242 million was reportedly stolen from the Banco Noroeste S. A. through offshore banks in the Cayman islands. The money was remitted by swift transfers through various banks to accounts controlled by Nigerian nationals, Ikechukwu Christian Anajemba, Emmanuel Odinigwe Nwude, Nzeribe Okoli and Amaka Anajemba (wife of Ikechukwu Christian Anajemba). The authorisation for all the transfers was done by Nelson Tetsuo Sakaguchi, a senior official at the bank. The Nigerians, in a 419 plan, came up with a fake contract to build an airport in Abuja. They promised Nelson Tetsuo Sakaguchi a big commission in exchange for funding the contract.
The fraud was detected in February 1998 while Sakaguchi was on vacation, in the process of auditing carried out in readiness for the intended sale of the Bank Noroeste to Spanish banking group Banco Santander. Inquiry revealed discrepancies in the bank’s books, with at least US$242 million missing. Of this sum, US$190 million had been transferred directly to accounts controlled by the Nigerians or through unlawful money changing operations conducted by Naresh Asnani (a British subject of Indian descent resident in Nigeria) and Ezugo Dan Nwandu (a Nigerian businessman resident in Enugu). 2
Following the discoveries, civil actions aiming to recover the money were commenced in Brazil, Switzerland, Hong Kong, the United States of America and in Nigeria. In addition to the civil actions, criminal complaints were laid in Brazil, Switzerland, USA, Hong Kong and Nigeria. 3
The accused persons and companies were charged with obtaining by false pretence $190 million from one of the directors of Banco Noroeste Bank. 4
In prosecution, Nwude and Okoli plead guilty to numerous crimes and forfeited $121.5 million dollars in assets. Anajemba too pleaded guilty and she received a two and half-year sentence after agreeing to give back $48.5 million. 5
In July 2002, investigators acting for the bank’s shareholders (with the assistance of Dr. Hakim Ukeh – also suspected of participating in the fraud) persuaded Sakaguchi to visit New York, ostensibly for a meeting with the shareholders, where he was arrested on an international warrant issued by the Swiss government and extradited to Switzerland to answer money laundering charges. He admitted involvement in the fraud. 6 In December 2002, Naresh Asnani was arrested in Miami, while en route to a meeting with lawyers acting for the shareholders, on an international warrant issued by the Swiss Government. He was extradited to Switzerland to answer similar charges of money-laundering. On October 31 2003, he too admitted involvement in the fraud. Click here to read about the trail which took place in Nigerian
Canadian Man loses $150,000 to Nigerian Lottery Scam
John Rempel of Leamington, Ontario, got an email back in July, 2007 from someone claiming to be a lawyer with a client named David Rempel who died in a 2005 bomb attack in London, England, and left behind $12.8 million dollars. The scammer will usually say it’s a long-lost relative or the victim, or the deceased millionaire had no relatives so they sought for someone who shared the same last name.
Photo of John Rempel who lost $150,000 to a Nigerian Scam also known as the ‘419 scam’
The unidentified lawyer said his client had no family but wanted to leave the money to a Rempel. It was John’s his lucky day. “It sounded all good so I called him,” said John. “He sounded very happy and said God bless you.”
BUT, then the Advance Fee Fraud came in.
The man told him he had to pay $2,500 to transfer the money into his name. He then had to stump for several more documents, some of which cost $5,000. The scammer told Rempel he had to open a bank account in London, with a minimum $5,000 deposit. He said some of the money had been transferred into the account for “safe keeping”.
The scammers then upped the ante, sending an email from a “government department” claiming he owed $250,000 tax on his inheritance. Rempel’s contact assured him he’d “negotiated the fee down to $25,000”.
Rempel decided to travel to London to check that the deal was legit. He made his way to Mexico, where his farm-owning uncle gave him cash and money for a plane ticket. He said: “I had $10,000 in cash in my pocket and my uncle sent another $25,000 when I was over there.”
Once in London, Rempel met “some people” and handed over the $10k. The next day, the 419ers showed their target a suitcase they said contained $10.6m in shrink-wrapped US bills. Rempel demanded further proof, at which point one scammer extracted a bill and “cleansed” it with a liquid “formula” which “washed off some kind of stamp”. The process converted the cash into “legal tender”, Rempel was told.
Rempel said: “I was like holy crap, is that mine?” he said. “They said ‘yes sir, it’s yours.’ It all sounded legit.”
Rempel went back to his hotel room with the magic formula to wait for the 419ers “so they could cleanse all his money”. They, of course, disappeared, later claiming they’d “been held up”.
The victim then managed to drop the bottle containing the formula, breaking it. He rang his contact who said he’d get further supplies. Rempel flew back to Leamington and waited several weeks until a call which confirmed more formula was available for $120,000.
Rempel said: “I thought, ‘let’s work on it, nothing is impossible.’”
The 419ers told Rempel they “were willing to meet associates in different countries to get cash for the formula”, but that they’d need several plane tickets, at $6,000 a pop.
The scammers subsequently confirmed they’d collected $100,000, but were still $20,000 short. Apparently, there was “a guy in Nigeria who had it, but another plane ticket was required”. The contact then insisted he could only get $15,000 of the balance and “begged” Rempel for the remaining $5,000.
Rempel obliged, borrowing the money and defaulting on his credit card and car payments.
A week later, Rempel got the call he’d been waiting for – the cash was ready to go if he could just find an extra $6,900 for “travel costs and to rent trunks to ship the money”.
The final contact between Rempel and the scammers was when they called to say they’d arrived at the airport in New York. However, there was a slight snag – security had stopped them and they needed $12,500 for a bribe.
Rempel, still none the wiser but substantially lighter in the wallet, told them: “No way, I’m cleaned out.”
In one last desperate act, Rempel drove to the airport with his parents and 10-year-old brother, but found no trace of his friends or the money. They then went home and called the police.
The final cost of Rempel’s mix of greed and remarkable stupidity was $55,000 from his uncle in Mexico, $60,000 from his parents to “cover fees for transferring $12.8 million into his name”, plus the money he personally lost – a total of $150,000.
He said: “They’re in it now because of me. If it wasn’t for me, nobody would be in this mess. You think things will work out, but it doesn’t. It’s a very bad feeling. I had lots of friends. I never get calls anymore from my friends. You know, a bad reputation.”
He concluded: “I really thought in my heart this was true.”
after being sent an e-mail on how i am surposed to have won in a lotto the shock and the horror being told ye you have won but you got to pay us first £650.00 damn how dum do i look i never give money away,, thats like paying for my phone before i get the bill… well all i can say is .. well the shock of how i got took in on this.. i could understand a bill after getting the money but not before so because of this i will now go and investigate the irish lotto to see how this has come about.. plus cant get hold of anyone even after the so called win,, if this was a so called win never pay out before you get the money in the bank. (a comment from January 09)
– This lottery scam victim sent this comment to KeepSafeOnTheNet, to warn others.
Brief Description of Well Known Cases
Greek George Makronalli was 29 years old when he was invited to South Africa in 2006 to complete a lucrative deal with his new business allies. On arrival, his host supposedly took him round on a familiarization tour of infrastructures on ground for the smooth take off of their enterprising deal. At a particular point however, he suspected foul play when he noticed that many things were amiss in the deal. He tried to back out but his host won’t succumb, a situation which culminated in several bitter outbursts. George was overpowered, kidnapped, and murdered in cold blood, when his family failed to pay a stipulated ransom. This incidence sparked off INTERPOL investigations into the matter. George, however, is not the only one who had died after falling mugu (victim) of internet scams.
In November 2003, Leslie Fountain, a senior technician at Anglia Polytechnic University in England, set himself on fire after falling victim to a scam; Mr. Fountain died of his injuries. In 2006, an American living in South Africa hanged himself in Togo after being defrauded by a Ghanaian 419 con man. In 2007, a Chinese student at the University of Nottingham killed herself after falling for a lottery scam. That’s not all.
In February 2003, Ji?í Pasovský, a 72 year-old scam victim from the Czech Republic, shot and killed 50-year old Michael Lekara Wayid, an official at the Nigerian embassy in Prague, and injured another person, after the Nigerian Consul General explained he could not return $600,000 that Pasovský had lost to a Nigerian scammer. While death is usually at the extreme, the usual aftermath of successful scams are monetary losses.
In the late 1800s, Western Union allowed telegraphic messages on its network to be sent to multiple destinations. The first recorded instance of a mass unsolicited commercial telegram started from May, 1864. Until the Great Depression of the 1930s, wealthy North American residents were deluged with nebulous investment offers. This problem never fully emerged in Europe to the degree that it did in the Americas, because telegraphy was regulated by national post offices in the European region.
Online Puppy Scams
Having had no luck at all with some rescue services (they didn’t call back after I filed a lengthy application), I decided to look for puppies online. As we were moving to a new place that allowed dogs, I wanted to purchase a Pug for my daughter. My wife found an ad on Facebook Marketplace. I contacted the person, who was supposed to be only an hour and a half away.
I found out the person was actually in Seattle (or so she claimed). She sent me lots of pictures of the puppies and promised to send lots of extras with them. She told me that she would sell me both of the pups for $700, which was a good price, or so I thought. I offered to send the money via PayPal but she insisted on Western Union. I didn’t think anything of it at first. I started to get wary when the money was going to Virginia, but went ahead anyway. Here is where it starts to get interesting.
She or the made-up company that was supposed to ship the pups sent me an email saying that I needed to pay $2,000 for the pet insurance. They said it would be reimbursed when the pups were delivered. I sent this money. I was promised the pups would arrive late that night. They never did. Instead, they asked for even MORE money which I refused to pay. It was then that I finally realized I had been scammed (serves me right for not reading all my ASPCA newsletters!).
I contacted Facebook Marketplace and they shut them down. I do periodically check there to see if they have the nerve to pop up again, and they do! I also contacted the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the local police, the FBI, state attorney general and FTC, and nothing has been done about it (that I know of).
As stupid as I feel for allowing myself to get scammed out of $2,700, I feel really angry that I’m not the only one. There are lots of people out there I have read about that were scammed for more than I was. Please, do NOT buy from these people. If you see them somewhere online and it sounds like a pet scam, it probably is. Report them to the website they are on right away.
Free to Good Home Scam
Last month I started searching for a Yorkshire Terrier to adopt. I started emailing different adoption centers I found on PetFinder and local ads online. A few days later I received an email from a woman named Tiffany, stating that she had three Yorkies in need of homes. Tiffany’s email basically said that she adopted the dogs from a friend, but could no longer take care of them. She said that if I filled out the application, I could adopt them for free. I filled out the form and was approved—all I had to do was send $150 to cover the cost of shipping. Tiffany lived in Georgia and I was in Ohio, so it made sense.
I soon received an email from PetFlyers—the airline that would supposedly be flying the dog to me. It stated that all the flight information would be emailed once I sent the money via MoneyGram. Tiffany contacted me, and said that her brother worked for Petflyers and that it would be easier to send him the money directly—so I did. The next day, PetFlyers emailed requesting an additional $420 for a dog crate—that the one Tiffany supplied was not in good condition. At that point, I started doing some research and found out that PetFlyers did not even have a website. So I sent an email requesting that the manager call me.
A few hours later, I received a call from a man. His first words to me were “you send my money yet?” Well, I knew at this point I had been scammed. I contacted MoneyGram and was lucky to get my $150 back. I wanted to share my story so no one else falls for this scam.
Puppy Scam Victim Shares Story
She was looking to add a new member to her family but says she was taken advantage by an online puppy scam in Valdosta.
Shana Jones who lives in Oklahoma was scammed out of nearly $2,000. She wants to get the word out so others don’t fall victim.
“I’m frustrated,” said Jones. “I feel stupid I didn’t look into it a little bit more. My kids were completely heartbroken.”
This is the puppy Shana Jones thought she bought from a breeder in Valdosta but it really never existed.
“You want to take that face value that there’s not people out there like this,” said Jones.
Shana Jones says she was hoping to get a good deal on a female french bulldog, when she came across a now defunct web site called bulldog.us. She emailed the contact listed on the web site. She says she soon began communicating through email and was told to send the money for the puppy through western union. She says she made the payment to Shari Bell, who was later arrested in Valdosta for the scam.
“When I couldn’t contact them and they weren’t taking my calls that’s when i got a gut instinct you know something wasn’t right,” said Jones.
Besides the possibility of becoming a victim, animal advocates say when you order dogs online you don’t know what you might get.
“You could end up with a very sick puppy or you could end up with a very different puppy than you agreed to purchase,” said Cori Menkin, ASPCA’s Senior Director of the puppy mills campaign.
They say online puppy scams have become growing problem across the country.
“If a breeder is willing to ship you a puppy without ever having met you without you ever having met the puppy you should walk away from that transaction,” said Menkin.
Jones is know hoping others learn from her mistake, urging you to recognize the red flags, and recognize if a deal is too good to be true.
Animal advocates say always check references when buying a pet and always pick your puppy up at the kennel never have it shipped.
Valdosta Police say never send money to an unknown source.
(WTXL article published Feb. 7, 2013)
I have recently been the victim of scammers. There were at least two and it was the usual stuff, one guy hooks up with me through a dating site, chats for a few weeks and then supposedly goes on a business trip with his young son to Ghana where he is robbed of his wallet, so he has no cards or cash. He does his business deal and names me as a trustee to receive some of the money so that I can send him some to come home as for some reason he can’t access his bank account (which I question on several occasions, also if he goes on business trips abroad regularly why can’t he claim on his insurance). It is at this point that the supposed bank manager takes over and there is tax to pay on the money he is sending me and a fee for this and that with me questioning all the time why can’t they take tax etc out of the money they are supposed to be sending to me. Of course this can’t be done for some reason or the other. I know now that it’s a classic scam. When I said no more money and they realised that I meant it Mr Bank Manager rings and tells me that my “friend” has been taken into hospital with a heart attack and he needs money to pay for his medical treatment. I tell him to contact the British High Commission in Accra who will help. For some reason he’s not very keen to do that, I wonder why. At this point I have already informed the British High Commission about it all anyway, informed the dating site where I first made contact, informed the Bank that they are using as a front, told my bank etc, etc. What is strange is that I have still had contact with one of them ( the “bank manager”) and really riled him by telling him what low-life’s him and his friends are as up until two days ago they were still using the same mobile phones! Extraordinary.
I still have the photographs that the first guy sent me and I’m wondering who it is. I suspect that they’ve got them by nefarious means as part of an identity theft but I would love to post them all over the internet and see what happens.
By the way I’m a 57-year-old disabled woman living on benefits, something that they were fully aware of, so I didn’t have much money to begin with and I don’t know how I’m going to pay back the money I borrowed on my credit card.
But as I said to “Mr Bank Manager” at least I’ve still got my self-respect and can look in the mirror without feeling shame which seemed to upset him. I think he may be in the wrong profession! (09/03/09)
“thanks for your response,no although im 40 years old but still i havent get engaged or married,about 3 years ago i was going to be engaged but that was the time when that scammer was working on my mind,i belive he knew many things about psychology so there are many people at risk now,during 2 years we exchanged about more than 500 emails,in first step he said i should pay 400 pound for registration so that process be legal,after that he said my funds going to be released but i have to pay 500 pound as a visa fee,then after one month he said everything was going to be right but a british chancellor named Greenland Janet told i should pay the tax of those funds and sent a form for me (british inland revenue)and required about 1200 pound but at last i paid about 1050 pound and he said i will complete the rest of that,after that he said because of political situation of my country chancellor is not interested in my visa so i have to pay something as a gift to make her kind about my self and then i paid 400 pound but at last he said she is requiring 10000 pound before my coming and w i told him i cant and i will never pay ,he said ok,wait after changing of chancellor maybe i can do something for you,in fact at first that was unbelievable for me that he is forging a lot of documents just for taking 400 pound from me but later i found that it was the pace and technique of scammers specially when i searched about William Wilcox scams in google,i know i cant reach to my funds any more,but at least i want that my information can be used for other people who doesn’t want to be scammed!!!!!” (09/16/09)
Please can you advise me on a possible scam. My sister has recently hooked up with a man she met on a dating site who calls himself Michael Wigins. He is apparently in the USA Army serving in Iraq. He is 47, widowed, has a six year old daughter living in Canada. This man is promising my sister the world he wants to marry her he is coming here in a few weeks etc, etc,. Through this my sister who has some health issues that makes her very vulnerable has sold her home in order to make funds. I have written to this man via email asking relevant questions and he refuses to answer. I have also emailed my sister links on the website with scam stories which I may add are very similar to hers. I am at my wit’s end please can you offer some advice. (09/2009)
– These three romance scam victim stories above were posted on Keep Safe On The Net
The Harm Caused By Nigerian Scams.
1. Scam Victim’s Monetary Losses
1992-1994… American business man from San Diego duped out of $5.2 million dollars.
2008… American woman from Oregon cheated out of $400,000in an inheritance scam.
2009… Australian woman loses $600,000 in a romance scam.
A number of these unfortunate victims end up bankrupt.
2. Scam Victims Commit Suicide.
2003… an English senior technician sets himself alight and dies of his burns.
2006… an American hangs himself in South Africa.
2007… a Chinese student at the University of Nottingham killed herself after she discovered that she had fallen for a similar lottery scam.
3. Scam Victims Kidnapped.
Some desperate victims have attempted to recover their losses by actually traveling to Nigeria (not a good idea) to track down the scammers… with disastrous consequences.
1996… a Swedish business man is kidnapped and $500,000 is demanded for his release.
1999… a Romanian man suffers the same fate and the same $500,000 ransom is demanded.
2008… a Japanese business man is kidnapped and $5 million ransom demanded from his family.
4. Scam Victims Murdered
1994-1997… scammers are believed to have murdered at least 15 victims of various nationalities during this time.
1999… Norwegian business man is murdered in South Africa in a scam gone wrong.
2004… a 29-year-old Greek man is murdered in South Africa after his family refuses to pay a ransom.
Want to read more scam victim stories? Below is a list of other sources which feature scam stories told by victims to warn others of this ongoing crime, known as the 419 scam.
- Looks Too Good To Be True
- Victim Stories & Latest News At Scam Watch
- Keep Safe On The Net
- Romance Scam – Support & Advice – A sympathetic and safe online community where those who have been emotionally and financially taken by a Nigerian romance scammer.
- Scam Victims United – An online community created for scam victims. You will not find yourself attacked, instead, you will get great advice from sympathetic people who know exactly what you’re going through, because they went threw it too.