Are Internet Scams Too Economically Profitable for Authorities to Eliminate Their Operation?
Internet Scamming Groups
Internet Scam Trends:
There is undoubtedly a financial epidemic for citizens who are being scammed out of millions of dollars in several countries. These internet scams typically are referred to as 419 Scams, primarily targeting the US, UK, Togo, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and the Netherlands. They occur on job boards, cell phones, hearing impaired services, and romance sites to name a few. There are also bulk sales of identity information sold to other criminals after they are through with robbing you. They perform additional thefts on your information or accounts after you fix the damage, and/or pretend to be a firm that seeks justice to victims of fraud in this manner, for a fee of course.
The quick story of how these E-Trickery operations are executed happen by convincing people to either send money for assistance in a crisis or need, as well as sending checks via mail, and requesting a partial amount to be sent back out by an untraceable wire transfer. Information on each of these methods can be found across the internet, and all have a similar result: Participation in a criminal act, and/or a significant monetary loss in which the victim is held responsible. There can also be identity theft, humiliation, strains on your personal relationships, and destruction of your FICO account and cost of living. These thieves are counting on the greed, imagination, and vulnerability of each potential mark that replies to their contact.
Check Scam from Craigslist Job Offer 8/14
Wikipedia on 419 Scams
Now to the Unanswered Question:
Are these scams too profitable for government agencies to genuinely eliminate these type of operations? If ever there is opportunity, there will be thieves there to exploit it. After coming across a scam attempt while I had responded to an employment listing on a Craigslist.org job board, I began to ponder on why these types of scams are still allowed? Luckily, I was already well aware of what was happening long before receiving suspicious emails and an $1800 Wells Fargo check via 2-day Priority Mail. I decided to do a little reading on the topic by a simple Google search and I was astonished at how large this had become.
My question evolved after I read about the millions to billions that these con artists are stealing from vulnerable people. They have been capable of crumbling a bank, kidnapping, murder, and influenced suicides, all in addition to the financial and criminal consequences inflicted upon those who participate, even unknowingly. There was an interview conducted in Nigeria, where a woman paid to learn about their operation first hand. One of the thieves bragged about having "security", meaning he had the government, police, and (another article) business owners on their payroll, allowing them to continue these fraud attempts. Governments are working towards taking actions against scammers. For example, Nigeria developing a software with Microsoft which warns 250,000/Millions online, potential "marks". While there has been some efforts made towards this crime genre, are the efforts significantly effective with consequences impacting enough to influence con men to lose interest in Internet scams?
What I Learned Hanging Out With Nigerian Email Scammers:
Do you agree that further registration and verification process will reduce online scams?
So What Are Our Solution Options:
I began to piece together all of the economic profit that comes from 419 Scams, leading me to the conclusion that there was far too much monetary gain for these operations to be ended. While this is all theory, let's explore the possible accomplices, how their participation benefits them, and what genuine solutions could greatly disable this criminal ring:
Due to the lack of a verification process when picking up funds through Money Gram or Western Union and like businesses, this allows the main method of completing these type of scams. Should they enforce a process which would verify identities properly, they would flee from conducting illegal business through their legitimate business. If places like Western Union agreed to this change, they would lose a large profit from the fees paid to deliver the funds to the scammers. In addition, they could offer further instructions prior to wire transfers being completed, informing each senders that if they cashed a check to send these funds, to wait for up to 10-30 days, to verify the complete clearing of the checks cashed, and the personal benefits of patience. I am aware they warn against sending money to anyone you do not know personally, but when these victims believe they are conducting a business transaction, they tend to ignore this warning.
Extensive registration and identity verifications could largely reduce the successful technique through businesses like dating sites, wire transfer businesses, hearing impaired service calls similar to the AT&T lawsuit, SIM card and cell phones of all types, Internet service providers, postal services, licenses of businesses posting on job boards, and the over-use of keywords within email and chat content. I focus on the US and Nigerian scam loop because that is where I have had experience and read the most information about.
Nigerian Government: While they are not the only country where scams are being conducted, they are getting a large piece of the pie. There have been complaints about their slow moving action to bringing scammers to justice, further implying to their involvement, The incoming cash flow greatly grows the Nigerian economy and consumer market, in addition to their private pockets. Their ability to locate and capture a group of Internet scammers who signed documents and checks using the president's forged signature, further displayed their ability to succeed in shutting the operation down when the interest serves them.
United States Government: We go around the world flexing our muscles at any nation that has what we want, so why wouldn't we do the same to a country that is filtering in our millions, while our financial system is crashing. Let us not forget that in 2006, we were the 61% leading source of reported Internet scams. Since bankers and government are connected, the money interests are as well. The lost funds that victims wired, are insured and recovered by the banks and they could be double dipping when the responsible party recovers the debt by paying it back. The potential for FICO damage, could allow higher interest rates for credit approvals post-fraud occurrence.
Internet Cafes: There are several businesses that are provided a kick-back from the payoffs received, as the scammers are allowed indoors after hours to operate with reduced risk of being caught. Should all Internet cafe's agree to random after-hours searches, Internet activity increase monitoring, and user registration and verification process, this would isolate this method of conducting these scams within businesses. If these cafe owners we not involved, they should have no reason to fear violating the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), created to combat such crimes.
All of these types of businesses are rumored or absolutely profiting from either kick-backs, business fees, or online site traffic. I am left wondering if these measures were taken to end this process of stealing from people unlearned to these scamming methods: What will be the freedom and privacy rights impeded upon in order to eliminate 419 theft?
Do you think that monitoring, in order to stop Internet scams, is worth reducing your online privacy?
I didn't want young teens new to the job market, or anyone really, to be taken advantage of and robbed simply because they may not have known how these scams work. We have to go easy on victims because if it was common knowledge, this textbook scam dating back to the 1800's would not still be effective today. Just as well, we need to refrain from sterotyping scammers in hot spot areas, because they are not the majority! I had placed an ad on CL warning about the scam and the specific link, showing that I traced the email back to Nigeria, in addition to flagging it. I received several replies about other's interaction with this scam artist. One woman who had called the company after figuring out what they were up to and she explained that she was then cursed out. Another had attempted to contact the Attorney General's office, "all they told me was to tear up the check. I really wish our AG would do more to catch these criminals and protect us better".
We cannot underestimate the power of bribes, effectiveness of filtering money back into the consumer market by purchasing goods, and a lack of conscious for the "out of sight, out of mind" type of criminals. There is a pattern of similar behaviors occurring amongst these thieves against their own society members, so please do not think for a moment that they could have regard for the damage they are creating in your life. Lastly, I am left with the irony of knowing that if these thieves applied themselves as dedicated in "lawful business" as they do to steal, how successful they could be? Despite, as explained in the article mentioned above, and as children following their parents, the criminals mimic the standard and actions of their government's example.