Internet scams can quickly clean out you bank account

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

Salif Alli wants to transfer $800,000 into my bank account.

He told me so in an email sent to my Yahoo account. It is really nice of him, since I have no idea who he is.

He wants to do it because I helped him previously with a transfer, even though it was unsuccessful. He wants me to contact his secretary, Abdul Kuku by email at abdul.kuku@yahoo.com.

“Please let me know immediately you receive it so that we can share the joy after all the sufferness at that time,” Mr. Alli writes.

I have no idea what he is talking about, or what “sufferness” he means.

Mr. Alli is not the only one who wants to give me money. There are a lot of them on the Internet.
Why would Mr. Alli think that this silly scam can actually work? Because it often does.

Each year scammers make off with about $13 billion. While I would never contact Mr. Alli’s secretary, Mr. Kuku, some people do, and as soon as they send over their bank account information, the account is cleaned out.

For a while it seemed that I was winning the Irish lotto weekly. All I had to do to collect my winnings was to send over my bank account information, and the money would be deposited.

I replied to one such email that I never entered the Irish lotto. My email address was randomly selected, came the reply. This must be a new type of lotto, where nobody buys a ticket.

It’s almost too good to be true. I didn’t send any money, but many people probably did before the scam fizzled out.

I also used to get emails from a Nigerian prince, saying that he has millions of dollars hidden in an account, and for a small payment, I can get a piece of it. This was the famous “419 Nigerian Prince scam.”

While there may be a little old lady who keeps money under her cat’s mattress who falls for this and loses a few thousand dollars, most of us equate this with someone trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.
Most of us, but not Mr. Nelson Sakaguchi, director of the Banco Noreste in Brazil, in charge of (you can’t make this up) overseas accounts.

In 1998, the spammers sent Mr. Sakaguchi an invitation from the Nigerian government to get in on a plan to build an airport.

Mr. Sakaguchi met with a man who introduced himself as the director of the Bank of Nigeria. How did he fool a sharp-eyed real life bank director? He had a business card.

Mr. Sakaguchi wired them $4 million dollars. I don’t know off-hand what the exchange rate is in Nigeria, but I’m pretty sure that’s enough money to buy the entire country.

The scammers weren’t content, and continued playing him.

Building an airport ain’t cheap, and Mr. Sakaguchi just kept transferring cash.

Luckily for him, both Lloyd’s Bank and Citigroup also had hired directors with only a dim understanding of the word “money,” because somehow no one in the giant corporation saw anything suspicious about the millions of dollars being funneled through their accounts to Nigeria.

When the other directors at Mr. Sakaguchi’s bank started noticing that the piles of money they used to have were noticeably reduced, they finally put a stop to it.

By that time Mr. Sakaguchi had sent $242 million to the scammers. Yes, the mother of all scams.

While we’re smarter than the average Mr. Sakaguchi, here are some ways to prevent being scammed.

• Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to unexpected requests.

• Check out the company contacting you. Type its name into a search engine and add “review.”

• Don’t believe your caller ID. They can easily be manipulated these days. If someone asks for money or personal information, hang up.

• Don’t pay up front for things like debt relief, loans, a job, or mortgage relief.

• Hang up on robocalls.

• Be skeptical about free trial offers.

• Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. Uncovering fake checks can take weeks, and you are responsible to pay the amount back to the bank.

• Don’t deal with Mr. Alli or Mr. Kuku.