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Retiree loses life’s savings to online scam


here is another scam story. please read and leave your comments.


By Chris Norwood

TALLADEGA — A man lost his life savings and nearly lost his home after falling victim to an increasingly common scam, according to police.The victim, a 59-year-old Talladega retiree, was first contacted via e-mail in July by someone calling himself Barrister Owen Larry of Nigeria. According to Talladega Police Department Capt. of Investigation Ronny Jones, the victim was informed that a deceased relative in Nigeria had left him an $8.3 million inheritance, but would need $500 first to cover some legal fees. The victim wired the money to an address in Nigeria.

The e-mail correspondence and phone calls continued, and the victim eventually wired an additional $20,000 to Nigeria. “At that point,” Jones said, “Western Union told him it was a fraud and a scam, but he went through with it anyway.”

The communication continued, and the victim next wired $40,000. At that point, he received a counterfeit Master Card ostensibly issued by Oceanic Bank International. He was told that after a $60,000 payment was received, the card would be activated and he could begin drawing down the $8.3 million. There were also some threatening letters and phone calls during this period.

At this point, Jones said, the victim’s savings was long gone. He went to First National Bank and attempted to take out a $14,000 loan and put a second mortgage on his house to raise the rest.

“The bank turned him down, told him he was being scammed and told him he needed to file a report,” Jones said.

There actually is an Oceanic Bank International based in Nigeria, according to Detective Doug Whaley, who investigated the case. There is a statement on the bank’s Web site warning of the scam and saying the con has nothing to do with the real Oceanic Bank.

Whaley said he had run the numbers printed on the front of the card and was able to produce a two-page list of other people who had apparently fallen prey to the same scam.

In addition to the e-mails, Jones said numerous certificates and various other items had been mailed to the victim. All of these items, including a certification from the International Monetary Fund and a letter from an anti-terrorism task force, also were fake.

“The IMF letter included a PIN number that would allow him to use the Master Card at ATMs,” Jones said. “When they were asking him to wire money, they would send him the test question and the correct answer. They had it covered.”

Although the wire transfers were sent to Nigeria, the e-mails were actually coming from an IP address in Amsterdam, Jones said.

Both Jones and Whaley offered the same advice to avoid these situations: Never open an e-mail from someone you don’t know.

“If it’s not a scam, it could just as easily be some kind of computer virus, and you don’t need that, either,” Jones said. “But that first $500 payment is the hook, and once they get that in you, they won’t give up.”

In addition to reporting these scams to local law enforcement, Whaley also recommends checking a Web site set up by the federal government at, which is designed to inform and expedite reporting of Internet crimes.

Jones also pointed out that it is not possible to win a lottery that you did not enter, and e-mails to this effect also are scams.

Whaley has a Power Point presentation on this topic available to civic clubs and churches, Jones said.

About Chris Norwood

  Chris Norwood is a staff writer for The Daily Home.

October 6, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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