Magazine article New Internationalist

Risky Business: Crime Gangs Have New Weapon [Fraudulent Letters Sent to Unwitting All over World from West Africa]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Risky Business: Crime Gangs Have New Weapon [Fraudulent Letters Sent to Unwitting All over World from West Africa]

Article excerpt

SCORES of business in the West have been stung by African fraudsters tempting them with huge riches. Letters that appear ordinary, bearing Nigerian and Cote d'Ivorie stamps, are offering something extraordinary-millions of dollars, held illegally and awaiting transfer from Nigeria into the bank accounts of Western companies. The letters promise that if bank details of the firm and blank copies of their business letterheads are supplied, money will be lodged into the firm's bank account and a 25 to 50-per-cent handling commission will be paid to the firm. But the letter writer uses access to the Western company's bank account to withdraw huge sums of money or use the account for other illegal deals.

In Britain, this fraud has reached epidemic levels. British businesses lose an estimated annual $5.6 billion to West African fraudsters, with over 80,000 fake letters received last year. The gangs have infiltrated offices in Britain which give them access to sensitive papers and information. At the Treasury Solicitor's office in London, one worker was found using a fax machine to work a swindle. …

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