- We continuously need to make a convincing argument for centralized 419 reporting with the police in the different countries. We have asked an expert and you can read what his opinion is: click here
=================================================== Released June 3 2006
419 AFF crime syndicates have about 3.500.000 ghost accounts under their control.
This makes it difficult for Governments, Central banks, Financial Intelligence Units (FIU/MOT), Anti-Terrorism departments and "others with the urge" to track money that is moving (invisible) out of government's control.
Authorities are continuously surprised at the extent of 419 Advance Fee Fraud organizations. Investigations along the lines of "follow the money and identity trail" are often no answer to the 419 AFF criminal organizations.
419 Advance Fee Fraud organizations have continuously collected bank account details of, and made agreements with, gullible private citizens and businesses in most countries around the globe, and they use these accounts in their operations.
To give an idea of the size of the problem in terms of following money trails, over 18.000 organized fraudsters (that assume fake identities), based around the world, have been and continuously are contracting gullible people to receive and send money via their bank accounts and following the payment instructions of the AFF organizations.
-These people are often told that they can be the local representative for a foreign export-business and as such they will receive payments from clients and forward those payments to another destination that is revealed to them at the last moment.
-It is our conservative estimate that on any given day the 419 AFF crime syndicates have about 3.500.000 of those 'ghost' accounts at their disposal.
-The first two questions are: Are these accounts only used for 419 AFF? If not, is the possibility to use these accounts for "other crimes" in addition to 419 AFF enough reason for governments to take action, or do we need additional reasons before the 419 AFF problem is addressed ? The third question is: Who is qualified to answer the first two questions ??? --- Notes: - the number of 18.000 organized fraudsters is an interpolated number of 419 AFF scammers in 37 countries excluding Nigeria, different types of extrapolation would result in numbers between 250.000 and 500.000 419 AFF fraudsters including Nigeria. -it concerns qualified scammers who, in general, work the 419 AFF daily from morning till night except in most cases not between Saturday afternoon and early Monday morning. - Government agencies and NGO's do not have the knowledge nor the resources to be successful in warning the public effectively for 419 AFF scams, which compounds the problem that warning the public will not help to solve the problem of unpredictable money transfers via 'ghost' accounts. - Government agencies and NGO's do not address the growing 419 problem because one can not address a problem if one does not have the right picture and as long as 419 AFF is cross-referenced with not compatible (old) analysis and modus operandi against not relevant statistics, no one will have that picture. - In the future, governments will have to warn the public for this type of arrangements that involve their bank account, in the same fashion as when we were made more responsive to unattended luggage in a public space. - The situation as described in this report is only one of the many, maybe more dangerous, results from leaving the 419 AFF problem unattended.
419 AFF Law enforcement, - only good enough for window dressing
419 Advance Fee Fraud outstripping Law Enforcement's meager attempts to control it.
3 Decades of 419 Advance Fee Fraud -Tens of millions of victims -Over 3 billion US$ losses worldwide in 2005 -Over 250,000 perpetrators, growth rate minimum 3% per year -Law makers ignorant of 419 AFF -Policy makers and law enforcement, who have no reliable statistics or analysis still associating 419 AFF with the modus operandi of other crimes such as cyber crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism.
The way law enforcement is structured, motivated and equipped now, it is impossible to win the battle against 419 Advance Fee Fraud. Law enforcement has had 30 years to formulate an effective strategy. They have failed.
In some countries, law enforcement, task forces and departments who suppose to be 419 AFF experts only scratch the surface of the problem. Worldwide, there is (maximum) one "419 expert" per 55,000 law enforcement officers. We believe there should be at least 8 specialists, as well as a supporting office in every (federal) jurisdiction.
Most 419 AFF criminals (Low estimate of over 250,000 worldwide) are not deterred because of the extremely low probability of capture, prosecution or property seizure.
The small and expensive results gained by law enforcement are a farce compared to the current global size and explosive growth of 419 AFF. Recent international police actions prove that law enforcement and politicians are not only ignorant of the methods employed by scammers, but are routinely making strategic mistakes.
For example, in recent months some low ranking 419 AFF scammers were arrested during operation Global Con, 90% of them never see a courtroom and are sent back to their home country, only to improve their criminal skills and recruit more scammers to set up in another country.
Currently there is some, but by far not enough, collaboration among police and other types of law enforcement agencies in various countries. This is haphazard and based on specific 419 AFF case information that can be used only in very limited circumstances. Information accidentally gathered by the partners in these collaborations. A well intentioned attempt, but with no serious structure or strategy, just adequate for window dressing and sure to fail in the long-term.
This international collaboration on informal basis be changed to collaboration based on uniform treaties or laws. This will help in the long-term to solve current extradition problems. It is clear that merely adopting law, arresting and trying to prosecute perpetrators has not been effective. Multilateral treaties are the only answer to this kind of international fraud. Unfortunately, in the short-term, this will not even make a dent in the growth of 419 AFF.
Police in many countries have been trying to educate the public not to fall for such scams. After 3 decades of unlimited 419 AFF, education has proven to be largely ineffective. This can no longer be used as an excuse for government's failure to control AFF.
Because 419 AFF organizations have proved to be two steps ahead of law enforcement, the police should, in place of only educating the public about past AFF strategies, educate law enforcers about what 419 AFF is and give them an effective structure to fight it. Law enforcement doesn't respect the victim or take the crime seriously because the prevailing attitude is that a 419 victim is greedy and/or ignorant and should have been more diligent.
Another assumption is that all 419 AFF perpetrators are young West-Africans with a minimal education
Who wants to be warned about being greedy, stupid or ignorant when communicating with a minimally educated scammer? This is how we are preparing potential victims to fall for new scams.
Given the sophistication of 419 AFF that has fooled thousands of experienced professional businesspeople, there is a need for more intensive and precise campaigns to eliminate this form of organized crime, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the intentions of the victim.
Ideally, the solution would be a combination of public education, legal, technological and pro-active means to limit 419 AFF communications. In addition, victim-friendly centralized access for the public to report 419 AFF is essential. AFF is not classified as a cyber crime, unlike spam, which is.
Limiting AFF spam will temporarily decrease incidences of 419 AFF (Cybercrime) but such improvement might go unnoticed in the future statistics because of the enormous growth of the 419 AFF organizations who have always found ways to reach their targets. At this moment we believe that in the near future e-mail will still be a large part but no longer be the main means for 419 AFF organizations to reach their targets.
The current dismal status of 419 AFF law enforcement and prevention is an insult to millions of victims
There are no centralized counter-AFF operations. Because of the absence of centralized operations, law enforcement has not kept track of AFF worldwide. Available statistics underestimate the situation enormously, on average by a factor of 8.
Centralized counter 419 operations will be much more efficient and result in lower costs to the taxpayer than current fragmented operations
Ultrascan has investigated 419 AFF since 1995. It is our opinion that without centralized counter 419 AFF operations and pro-active research, 419 AFF will remain the most prevalent fraud in the world and become much more of a dominant global crime factor.
Note: In the above we have deliberately omitted crimes that are present in the slipstream of 419 AFF. When surrounded by drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism, AFF has a tendency to seem relatively benign.
law enforcement, intelligence and local police departments.
When we receive evidence of advance fee scammers being active from certain locations we inform the local police and direct victims to the police department where their complaint sort the best effect.
When we receive evidence or information not available to the public we inform law enforcement intelligence departments
A basic element of the 419 advance fee fraud is that it involves at least two but in general 3 or more countries. This is done on purpose to make investigating and prosecuting the crime more complicated if not practically impossible.
Interpol To add to that problem, the police/justice departments of most countries have agreement to send and receive inquiries concerning crimes in other countries via Interpol. (Exceptions are made in particular cases or under special treaties between countries, also for special 419 investigations)
Now this would not be a problem if most countries didn't have a central point of reception for foreign help request and those departments are very often understaffed, in some countries it can take years before a certain help request lands on the right desk, if ever, sometimes the officers who handle the victims file in the countries involved don't work there anymore, and even if they still do work there, we couldn't find a single one (except for policy makers) happy with the time wasted.
Taking in to account that 419 scammers are very fast changing places, numbers and identities, the victims can virtually forget about filing a complaint with the police in their own country. To stand a chance the victims are better off when they file a complaint were the scam took place and payments were received by the scammers, otherwise there is a chance that their complaint only adds to the statistics at Interpol.
If you want to have the fraudsters catched or increase the chance that the police will find any money, we advise you to find the right police departments to file your 419 complaint as fast as possible. Otherwise the system has proven to be to slow to catch 419 Advance Fee Scammers, and unless there is already an investigation running in to the scamring that scammed you , not only your money is lost but the scammers too
Justice is already slow and the police is in the first place there to catch criminals, only secondary to find and return money that legally is yours.