Fresh reports have emerged on the FBI captured 80 Nigerians internet scammers whose identities were recently published by the agency.
Reports reveal that a romance scam which kicked off between a Japanese woman and a Nigerian man who introduced himself as a US Army Captain stationed in Syria led the FBI to begin the clampdown on the scam ring.
According to the report, the man gave himself away as Captain Terry Garcia.
The report has it that after 10 months, the interactions between the man and the Japanese lady blossomed into romance for the woman who is listed as ‘F.K’ in charge documents – but this only ended up making her $200,000 poorer and nearing bankruptcy after she had had to borrow money from relatives and family members to meet up with the requests of ‘Capt. Garcia’.
The plan from Captain Garcia ran thus; he had sold the story of his plans to smuggle diamonds out of Syria and thus needed funding for the project.
But the truth, in reality, was that there were no diamonds anywhere and the whole charade was just a front to swindle her of her dollars.
According to the report, FBI began the probe into scam in 2016 with just one single bank account and victim but it spiralled off from there into a vast network of hundreds of victims, some of whom like FK had lost hundreds of dollars of their hard-earned money.
‘F.K. was and is extremely depressed and angry about these losses,’ the federal complaint states. ‘She began crying when discussing the way that these losses have affected her.’
Her relationship with ‘Garcia first began on March 2016, but soon after her digital pen pal began making ‘romantic overtures’.
He had convinced her that they could only chat and couldn’t talk by phone because he wasn’t allowed to use one while on military duty in the Middle-East.
The report states that FK made around 35 to 40 payments to Garcia to support the Syria diamond sham, receiving as many as 10 to 15 emails a day requesting her to send money to bank accounts in the US, Turkey and the UK.
It got interesting at a point as she was even threatened with arrest by the fraudsters if she failed to meet their payment demands.
At a stage, FK travelled to Los Angeles because a Russian bank manager had embezzled $33,000 of her money.
Each of the 80 defendants named in the indictment is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money as well as aggravated identity theft. Several also face additional fraud and money laundering charges.
According to the criminal complaint, the schemes used by the believed syndicate included fake business emails, online romances overtures and targeting of the elderly to steal at least $6 million, with attempts to take an additional $40 million from victims in the US and across the globe.
‘Those fraud schemes have evolved and become much more sophisticated. Nigerian fraud networks now target individuals and businesses alike,’ said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna.
Paul Delacourt, the FBI Assistant Director in Charge, added: ‘The romance scams prey on vulnerable populations, but the BEC (Business Email Compromised fraud) victims are often reputable companies and conscientious employees who have been fooled by sophisticated cyber frauds into transferring money.’
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