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419 Victims & Global Losses

419 Advance Fee Fraud Statistics

How many victims?

If "victims" is defined as those who lose money to the 419ers, we have no solid basis whatsoever for these stats, but we'd say conservatively, overall, hundreds of thousands over the years, and tens of thousands each year. And yes, we'd say the numbers are growing, though the average dollar loss per victim is decreasing, due to the larger amount of 419ers specializing in smaller return scams like Cashier's Check

419, Lottery 419, auction and sales 419 etc.

Victims categorized

(relatively) Small loss victims - in general these have fallen for one of the many quick scams, examples are: lottery fraud, the job- study place -offer, inheritance scam or the
 relief fund scam.

The total losses per victim vary between 200 and 30000 dollar over a period of a couple of months to half a year

Medium loss victims - In general these victims have fallen for the request for help to move and/or invest millions. More recent victims were offered substantial low interest loan for which they have to pay all types of advance fees.

The total losses per victim vary from 15000 to 210000 dollar over a period of a year to one and a half year.

High loss victims - In general these victims enjoyed a high education and have been introduced to "the original 419 Advance Fee Scam" which has evolved in the past 25 years to what it became now. A fraudulent proposal based on a REAL business of multinational proportions (oil, gold, diamonds, medical equipment, vaccines, chemicals, investments, building and/or service contracts), very often the business at hand relates to the business of the victim or bussiness-contacts of the victim and the victim is required to show genuine possibilities and experience to import or export goods and/or services before the first Advance Fees are generated.

Very often the losses are not limited to the Advanced Fees which end up in the pockets of the scam organization. These variations of the 419 scam have in a majority of the cases a fall out to all the other business and private connections of the victim who are unaware brought in to the scam by the innocent victim. Very often the victim and his associates have to invest in: costly preparations - start up real production - pay real subcontractors - to facilitate "the business" with the scammers and this leads to a snowball effect of damages which have included serious down sizing and bankruptcies of the companies involved.

Damages are not limited to private persons or their enterprises, public companies just "feel a higher need" for hiding (translating) the consequences for the public.

The total losses per case, vary from 300 thousand to 12 million dollar over a period of one and a half to 8 years or longer, but we are aware of cases with higher damages. Cases with damages between half a million and a million dollar are quite common.

Clever people "are easier to con"
March 17, 2008

The Times
Jack Malvern

Doctors, architects, engineers and other white-collar professionals are being conned by e-mail fraudsters who lure them into contributing to fake ventures after taking their details from conference websites.

A report on e-mail scams indicates that the high-achieving professionals are frequently defrauded, contrary to the widely held belief that the poorly educated and financially desperate are most vulnerable.

The research, carried out by Ultrascan, an IT fraud agency based in the Netherlands, also showed a strong correlation between white-collar victims and a recent or life-changing family trauma, which appeared to have impaired their judgment.

The review of 362 of the most serious cases, in which victims lost more than £150,000, found that 85 per cent had suffered a parent-related trauma either death or an acrimonious separation.

The report concludes that those who have suffered a bereavement appear to be more likely to be duped.

Advance-fee fraud where the victim is asked to pay up before receiving benefits is the most successful type of scam in the world and was responsible for victims losing an estimated £2.1 billion in 2007. There were 300,000 fraudsters active globally last year, a rise of 3 per cent from 2006.

One victim, whose father died in a car accident when he was 12, has lost more than $500,000 (£250,000) over seven years despite having the intelligence to gain a doctorate and help to run his family’s business. His cousin and former business partner, who has requested anonymity, told The Times that the victim continued to believe that the fraudsters were genuine.

The agency said that poorly educated or financially inexperienced people were not so desirable to scammers because they did not trust their own judgment and soon realised that they had been duped.

Frank Engelsman, Ultrascan's specialist in advance-fee fraud, said that doctors were especially vulnerable to scams that encouraged them to do good. "They very often fall for a scam that starts with a request to help the less fortunate in the world through good causes." he said. "To do the bigger scams you need the victims to trust their own capabilities and experience." 
A significant number of high-loss cases involved specialists such as psychiatrists, psychologists and neuro-surgeons, the agency said. 
"The 308 victims who said they had suffered child-parent trauma included two police commissioners of large cities, respected entrepreneurs and 17 directors of companies listed on stock exchanges."

Scammers boasted to one another on internet forums about the educational calibre of their victims, he said.

CASE STUDY of a High Loss victim

John, a PhD graduate who has run his family's wine business, first fell victim to a scam in 2001. Seven years and more than $500,000 later he is still sending money to fraudsters in the hope that one more payment will release the long-promised rewards.
The 55-year-old man, from the west coast of America, witnessed his father die in a car accident at a young age, a traumatic event similar to the majority of highly educated scam victims.
His ordeal began in 2001 with an e-mail offering him a trunk of money filled with dyed banknotes. The so-called "wash wash" scam, which was first developed by Nigerian fraudsters in the 1970s, involves a suitcase filled with worthless black paper, which the scammers claim are dollar bills stained to avoid detection by customs officials. The victim, who sees a demonstration of bills apparently being washed clean, buys the trunk and then purchases "chemicals" that supposedly remove the dye.
John agreed to pay a series of imaginary fees ranging from $300 to $10,000, his cousin said. He would hand over more cash no matter how outlandish the reason because he believed that the next payment would be the last. One fee he paid was ostensibly to get a holy man to lift a curse that had been placed on a consignment held in customs.
"My cousin is completely conditioned," John's cousin, who requested anonymity, said. "He is really had his soul corrupted and ruined by interaction with these people."
The victim has stolen money from his mother's retirement fund and used his cousin's bank account to accept fraudulent payments.
He ignores any advice, even from fraud experts who tell him that he is participating in well-documented scams, because he cannot accept his mistakes. "He believes that one of these days he is going to prove to everybody that he was right all along, and that we are idiots. The idea of making amends (for involving his family in fraud) is overwhelming to him. He would rather he is right so he could have his self-esteem back."

All victims - sustain emotional damages and when scammed for a longer period they appear to have a "connection" with their scammers which can be compared to the Stockholm-Syndrom. When this occurs it very often proves difficult to convince victims of the fact that they are the victim of a common but non the less elaborate advance fee scam. In many cases victims immediately contact their "trusted" scam contacts to discuss the problem they have with the people who have warned them for the scam, and the scam organization is equipped with all the fake detectives, FBI, Interpol and Secret Service agents or other fake officials necessary to gain control over the victim again.
Total 419 losses around the world- The best 419 statistics ever published untill our 419 Unit published its first edition of 419 stats in March 2006, were given by Special Agent Craig Spraggins of the US Secret Service, who was Special Agent in Charge of the now defunct Joint West African Fraud Task Force in testimony before a US Congressional subcommittee in 1998.
He said that estimated US losses per annum were $300 million, and estimated total losses worldwide per annum were $750 million (making the rest of the world's figure $450 million per annum).
You can multiply that by the number of years 419 has been running (25 plus) to arrive at a figure of some $19 Billion plus dollars. There is no need to lower the estimates or take a more conservative point of view, since it has been a faster growing business since the year 2000 with an explosive growth in 2003.

In terms of losses by country, the US is first, UK second, Japan third, but there are also heavy losses in Spain, Korea, Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, India, etc. and there have been losses to 419ers reported from nearly every country on the globe, 419 is a global affair and it is important to stress this.

stats released by our 419unit in July 2014 click here