Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nigerian ID Theft scam targets US soldiers and Staten Island residents with bogus cashier check fraud.

STATEN ISLAND (WABC) -- An identity theft scam victimized dozens of Staten Island residents and soldiers based at Fort Hood, Texas, investigators said.  The scam came to a quick end with the arrests of a gang of Nigerian immigrants working on Staten Island.  During raids Tuesday morning, 26 suspects were arrested on Staten Island, in Queens and Brooklyn.

"They stole millions of dollars, perhaps as much as five million dollars," Kelly said. Investigators say the ring leaders - 38-year-old Kazeem Badru, 46-year-old Ganiu Rilwan and 32-year-old Okoronkwo Okechukwu - accessed the checking, investment and credit card accounts or more than 200 people. Sixty of the victims live on Staten Island, 20 others are military personnel stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, with some deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There was over 25-hundred attempts by this organization to gain access to the identities and credit information of the members down in Fort Hood," Dan Donovan, Staten Island District Attorney, said.  Donovan said the suspects used numerous methods to gain the victim's personal information. One approach: rifle through mailboxes for credit card or bank statements. Police also said the defendants deposited fraudulent cashier checks, leading to financial losses at 27 banks including Richmond County savings, Staten Island Bank and Trust and HSBC.

Nigerian National Chiemezie Asieru Sentenced to Over Eight Years for Role in Fraudulent Check Scam that Victimized Nearly 500 Individuals out of Toronto Canada that private investigator Bill Warner exposed back in December 2008.

LOS ANGELES—A Nigerian national who operated a money-transfer business in Chino has been sentenced to 97 months in federal prison for his role in a scheme that bilked hundreds of victims out of more than $1.5 million in a scam that had schemers sending bogus checks to victims and falsely telling them they had won a sweepstakes or another lie to induce them to negotiate the fraudulent checks.

Alvin Chiemezie Asieru, 39, who resided in Chino prior to his arrests last March, was sentenced Monday by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who also ordered Asieru to pay full restitution to his victims.

Asieru pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud, admitting that he participated in an international telemarketing scheme that defrauded almost 500 victims from across the United States. The scheme involving Asieru is a variation of a scam now commonly seen where fraudulent checks are sent to victims with false claims that they had for some reason received a windfall. Asieru’s scheme in particular involved sending bogus checks to victims, telling them that they had won a contest, had been chosen to participate in a promotion, or were being offered employment as “secret shoppers.”

The victims were instructed to deposit the checks, wire most of the funds through MoneyGram, and report the MoneyGram transaction number to someone associated with the scheme. Armed with the transaction number, Asieru was able to collect the proceeds of the wire transfer through a MoneyGram terminal at his Chino business, SABIC Group. Asieru then shared the proceeds with co-conspirators in Toronto Ontario, Canada. Asieru also transferred over $680,000 of the proceeds to various banks in Nigeria. The victims later learned that the checks they had deposited into their bank accounts were fraudulent and that they were responsible for the money they had now lost.

The case against Asieru was investigated by the Chino Police Department, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If you receive an email or a letter like this:
•Forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at . Or call 877-382-4357.
•Do not reply, even if you are hoping to trap the senders.
•Be skeptical of anyone who calls, e-mails or sends a letter asks for your help in moving money out of a foreign country, or who claims you have won a foreign lottery.
•If you have lost money by replying to these emails, call U.S. Secret Service South Florida field offices at 305-863-5000 or 561-659-0184.
These cases are classified by the Federal Trade Commission as "foreign money offers," the fifth most common type of fraud reported by Floridians.

Counterfeit Cashier's Check
The counterfeit cashier's check scheme targets individuals that use Internet classified advertisements to sell merchandise. Typically, an interested party located outside the United States contacts a seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the United States that owes him money. As such, he will have the associate send the seller a cashier's check for the amount owed to the buyer.

The amount of the cashier's check will be thousands of dollars more than the price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. In most instances, the money is sent to locations in West Africa (Nigeria).

Because a cashier's check is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold. Falsely believing the check has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.

In some cases, the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstance has arisen that necessitates the cancellation of the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the remainder of the money. Shortly thereafter, the victim's bank notifies him that the check was fraudulent, and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it,  file a complaint with IC3 which is linked to the FBI.

Bill Warner Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM