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Man who killed divorce laywer, ex-wife dies in prison

A rural Glenvil man who was sentenced last month to two life terms in prison was found hanging in his cell at the Lincoln Correctional Center Monday morning.

Michael Petersen, 58, was unresponsive when staff found him at 6:14, and was pronounced dead at 6:47 a.m., LCC public information officer Tammy Kluver said in a news release. It appears he killed himself, she said.

Petersen was sentenced to life in August for first-degree murder in the Nov. 13 shooting death of attorney Todd Elsbernd outside his office in Grand Island. Elsbernd handled Petersen’s divorce from Nancy Petersen, who was shot and killed at her Buffalo County home hours before Elsbernd was shot.

Michael Petersen pleaded no contest in both deaths. He was sentenced in May to life in prison in the death of his wife. In exchange for his pleas, the state agreed not to pursue the death penalty.

Hall County Attorney Mark Young said last month that Petersen had no remorse and continued to believe his actions were justified because he felt spurned by his ex-wife, the justice system and Elsbernd.

Court-appointed attorney Jeffery A. Pickens of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy said his client was distraught over divorce proceedings, including a mistake in paperwork he blamed on Elsbernd. Nancy Petersen was awarded half of the couple’s $600,000 estate, and after the divorce, Michael Petersen fell victim to two Nigerian scams that cost him $140,000 to $150,000, he said.

Petersen had unsuccessfully tried to sue Elsbernd.

Authorities searched Petersen’s property near Glenvil after the Nov. 13 shootings and said he had at least a dozen guns, 13 boxes of rifle bullets and more than 100 other bullets and shells.

As is required by Nebraska law whenever an inmate dies in custody, a grand jury will investigate the death.


September 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Nwambu and the mail scam that swindled €8.8 million from 15 victims

Spanish High Court hands down jail terms of up to 21 years to perpetrators of elaborate fraud

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, just with a 21st-century twist: dangle the prospect of a large sum of money for doing nothing, and somebody will take the bait. Spain’s High Court has just sentenced 14 people who participated in an elaborate Nigerian mail scam to jail terms of up to 21 years. The fraud was simple, and consisted of sending out hundreds of thousands of emails and letters telling recipients that they had just won a multi-million dollar inheritance or lottery win. All that was required was some cash up front to transfer the funds…

Between 2005 and October 2010, when arrests were made, the gang swindled €8.8 million out of just 15 people, from a total of six countries. Led by Prince Eneka Nwambu, it persuaded one victim, a Norwegian named only as Odd K.V., to make 18 transfers worth €1.86 million to accounts in the United Kingdom in return for a bogus €14 million inheritance. US citizen Howard Alfred S. paid out €3.8 million, borrowing some of it from friends, in the belief that he was to receive €580 million in return for consultancy work for the National Oil Corporation of Nigeria.

The overwhelming majority of the hundreds of thousands of messages sent out by the gang were immediately consigned to recipients’ trash folders. But all that was required was to capture the imagination of a tiny percentage of potential victims. Unlike other Nigerian fraud scams, which are typically run on a shoestring, Prince Nwambu’s gang was significantly more sophisticated.

After establishing contact with victims, the gang met them in Spain, where the transfer would allegedly take place. Its contact here was Pablo de la Mata, who worked at a branch of Deutsche Bank in Madrid. The bank has subsequently said that it had no knowledge of the fraud, and would not respond to requests to contribute toward compensating victims, despite the fact that some met with De la Mata in his branch.

Each step along the supposed path to receiving the final transfer required victims to stump up cash. Each gang member played a different role in the scam: one pretended to be the owner of the security company guarding a lottery ticket; another claimed to be a representative of the Finance Ministry, able to help cut through red tape tying up an inheritance. Others were tasked with maintaining contact with victims, writing letters, opening bank accounts, withdrawing money paid in by their targets, renting hire cars or meeting rooms, and falsifying documents.

The gang even went as far as to show its potential victims large amounts of fake cash on their arrival in Spain. And throughout the process, Prince Nwambu, using different identities, played the role of trusted friend. He now faces 21 years and two months in jail for conspiracy, aggravated fraud, money laundering and using a false identity.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Nigerian gangs dominate Craigslist buyer scams

Likely Lads from Lagos still skilled at parting fools from money
Just five Nigerian criminal gangs are behind a widespread type of fraud targeting sellers on Craigslist.

The Lads from Lagos are going to considerable lengths of investing time and money in order to make their scams more plausible, according to a study by George Mason University researchers Damon McCoy and Jackie Jones.

The researchers discovered that Nigerian scammers have enlisted the help of US-based accomplices as well as getting their hands on professional cheque-creating kit.

The two researchers put up “honeypot” ads for laptops priced, on average, at a 10 per cent premium over similar kit on Amazon in a bid to discourage legitimate buyers. Only one legitimate purchaser tried to purchase the overpriced equipment.

Many less savoury buyers approached the researchers by email. In response, the researchers sent images of the products. Opening these images revealed info on the IP addresses of scammers. More than half came from Nigeria from what the researchers identified as just five groups of fraudsters.

The Craigslist scam kicks into effect when these “buyers” offer to pay for the advertised kit with a certified cheque. The scammers further claim that they couldn’t pick up the goods in person and are using a US-based “mover agent”. The “cheque” is higher than the purchase price and intended marks are asked to send the difference – minus their expenses for shipping the kit – via Western Union.

This overpayment scam works because banks are likely to initially accept the cheque and might even “float” funds from a cheque before it has cleared. Once the cheque is discovered to be fraudulent, banks attempt to claw funds back as well as imposing a surcharge, levying even more pain on defrauded sellers.

If successful, sellers will not only fail to receive any money for the goods that they were intending to sell, but will be even further out of pocket because of the money they have transferred under false pretence. In this way the scam is even more lucrative than listing frauds, which attempt to trick sellers into thinking they will be paid from an escrow account held by PayPal once they ship their computer kit.

Analysis of the return addresses on envelopes used to send out the fraudulent cheques as well as the signatures on the cheques were used to categorise the originators of frauds.

Overpayment scams have been around for years and are not particular to Craiglist. The listings site has a variety of defences against fraudulent sellers but bogus buyers remain a problem. Work by the two researchers show that these scams are getting more sophisticated.

“Some of the phoney checks were generated using VersaCheck software on legitimate check paper, with watermarks and other security features,” IT World reports. “Most of the checks listed real businesses that were geographically close to the bank”.

Bank routing numbers used in the scam are legitimate.

Victims may well not know that the “buyer” of the kit is actually located in Nigeria thanks, in part, to the use of a US-based middleman.

McCoy and Jones are due to present their research (PDF) at the IEEE-backed APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research in Birmingham, Alabama later this month (24 September). An abstract for their paper, entitled The Check is in the Mail: Monetization of Craigslist Buyer Scams, (PDF) explains that a better understanding of how the scam worked gives the potential for law enforcement on others to crack down on the scam, in particular by identifying and targeting US-based affiliates.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

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