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Nigerian Email Scam Victim Sues Bank, Loses Appeal

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the look-how-foolish-I-am dept.

Crime 312

reidhellyer writes "From California Litigation Attorney Blog: 'While many victims of the so-called "Nigerian e-mail scam" would be too embarrassed to trumpet that fact, others end up infamous for their victimhood like the appellant in a published opinion of the California Court of Appeal in Riverside. In March 2009, Charles Peters received an email from someone purporting to be a citizen of Malaysia. The e-mail informed Peters that certain third parties in the United States and Canada owed the Malaysian money, but that “they can not transfer the funds to any bank account outside America continent due to their new company policy [sic].” He asked Peters to “assist me in receiving the funds and forward to me.” He offered to pay Peters 12 percent of the money. Peters agreed after apparently negotiating an increase of his fee to 15 percent.'"

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312 comments

Chapter 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612206)

September 16, 1991. Today it finally began! After all these years of talking and nothing but talking we have finally taken our first action. We are at war with the System, and it is no longer a war of words.

I cannot sleep, so I will try writing down some of the thoughts which are flying through my head.

It is not safe to talk here. The walls are quite thin, and the neighbors might wonder at a latenight conference. Besides, George and Katherine are already asleep. Only Henry and I are still awake, and he’s just staring at the ceiling.

I am really uptight. l am so jittery I can barely sit still. And I’m exhausted. I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning, when George phoned to warn that the arrests had begun, and it’s after midnight now. I’ve been keyed up and on the move all day.

But at the same time I’m exhilarated. We have finally acted! How long we will be able to continue defying the System, no one knows. Maybe it will all end tomorrow, but we must not think about that. Now that we have begun, we must continue with the plan we have been developing so carefully ever since the Gun Raids two years ago.

What a blow that was to us! And how it shamed us! All that brave talk by patriots, "The government will never take my guns away," and then nothing but meek submission when it happened.

On the other hand, maybe we should be heartened by the fact that there were still so many of us who had guns then, nearly 18 months after the Cohen Act had outlawed all private ownership of firearms in the United States. It was only because so many of us defied the law and hid our weapons instead of turning them in that the government wasn’t able to act more harshly against us after the Gun Raids.

I’ll never forget that terrible day: November 9, 1989. They knocked on my door at five in the morning. I was completely unsuspecting as I got up to see who it was.

Read more... [avrtech.com]

LINK GOES TO SPYWARE! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612444)

Link goes to virus in PDF form! Do not click the link!

Re:LINK GOES TO SPYWARE! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612554)

Thanks, but our killer already finds that one.

But it's one of the reasons I read /. and other boards, they're a great source for samples.

Re:LINK GOES TO SPYWARE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612724)

?

NAV doesn't see a problem with it

Duh... (1)

Ismellpoop (1949100) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612218)

You would think by now people would be wary of anything from Nigeria or other African countries.
And if someone can't get their money from the bank there is probably a damn good reason.

Re:Duh... (2)

knacjesus (1047530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612260)

because malaysia is anywhere near africa ???

Re:Duh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612264)

You are correct in the second sentence (and also, the saying "if it seems too good to be true ..." applies). However, as to the first, it was purportedly a Malaysian national, and a Hong Kong bank received the money.

But fundamentally, it's a classic case of greed overcoming caution. I don't think we'll ever see an end to tales like this.

Re:Duh... (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612302)

Greed and abject stupidity. Seriously, why would the "victim"(aka mark) think that the person emailing him could not find a bank willing to transfer money for a 15% cut? Most banks transfer a lot more for a lot less money and are a lot more reliable than some random dude you email.

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612422)

But he was the chosen one. It's destiny.

Re:Duh... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612600)

And even if not, because banks (yes, even in central Europe, which used to be THE place to go with your dirty money before a certain Island took over) tend to be wary of money laundering investigations, who in their right mind thinks that someone with a few billion bucks to shove around needs the aid of someone they don't know at all? People with billions of bucks at their disposal tend to have patsies they can use for that. For far, far less, I should probably add.

How greedy can you be to think they need YOU? That just elevates stupid to a whole new level.

Re:Duh... (3, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612642)

I recall a story several years ago when one of the biggest group of people suckered by these scams were accountants and people in similar financial professions. In short, the people that are in a position to know better than anyone else, but they're more likely to be suckered by the 409 type of scam.

Sounds logical to me (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612696)

Anyone in the accountancy/banking business would have a whole career of experience telling them that it is both common and ethical to get free money.

Seems like they'd obviously be the ones to fall for it. To the rest of us, the promise of free money sends up a huge red flag, but to them its just a part of normal everyday business.

Re:Duh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612938)

Yeah, I mean it's not like some Bank would refuse to transfer money to some group/organization/company that's totally legal and not charged with any crime just because they don't like them.

Your talking crazy talk like this is Bank of America refusing to let you send money to WikiLeaks or something.

Oh. wait. I guess US Banks do sometimes do exactly what the scam says.

Re:Duh... (5, Informative)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612374)

it's a classic case of greed overcoming caution.

If you read the article you will notice the victim tried to be cautious. He deposited the check into his bank account. He later verified with the bank that the check had cleared. Only then did he wire funds out of his account. Sometime later the bank revoked the checks claiming they had been altered. Since the victim did not have any money to cover the lost funds the bank attached a lien to his property.

It was actually the bank that lost money. The bank is trying to collect from the victim. The victim sued the bank to have the lien removed from his property. He lost, and lost again on appeal.

Frankly, I think it is the bank that should be held responsible here. They are the ones that verified the check was good, that it cleared, that the funds were in the victim's accounts, and they are the ones that allowed the funds to be wired out of the country. Ultimately, the bank will be held liable since they will never collect their $468,000. But they are all-to-happy to do whatever they can to ruin the victim's life in the process.

Re:Duh... (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612468)

The scammers are well aware of the Flash money that vanishes when the bogus deposit fails to clear much later.

Unfortunately, there are too many that are not aware of this and get taken.

Re:Duh... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612534)

IUnfortunately, that's not how the bank thinks. The bank thinks "He used a false check to get money that wasn't his into his account". That he was in turn acting on behalf of a Malaysian fraudster who has run away with parts of the money is not relevant to them, the bank has never given the Malaysian any money. As far as they see it, the fraud was perpetrated by him against his bank account, and that's what they'll recover it against.

As long as you have the insane clearing system as you have, it has to be this way otherwise you could imagine the reverse scam where they collaborate, the bank has to eat a loss of $500k and then the two of them split the profit of $250k each. The sane solution would be a single and final clear/bounce, where the bank eats any loss. That'd probably lead to damn many checks bouncing at first but serious money transfers would adapt quickly and say "this is now the only way the US take payments".

Re:Duh... (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612650)

Oh yeah, and I should add to that.. the world needs to get out of last century. I've never written a check in my life, it's all plastic or cash. Debit cards go directly against your account and is far more practical and fraud-safe than checks without the high costs that cause shops to refuse taking Visa etc.

Re:Duh... (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612802)

Yeah but then you don't get reward points. Also bitcoin ftw.

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612712)

don't forget the other side to that. if banks eat the loss, then costs of transfers would go up, and/or banks will refuse to do transfers. It'll also go back to the previous mechanism where transfers take lots longer to clear (weeks or even ,onths) before money is available. and direct deposit goes out the window, too.

Re:Duh... (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613214)

don't forget the other side to that. if banks eat the loss, then costs of transfers would go up, and/or banks will refuse to do transfers. It'll also go back to the previous mechanism where transfers take lots longer to clear (weeks or even ,onths) before money is available. and direct deposit goes out the window, too.

I imagine by "direct deposit" you mean businesses mailing in paychecks to be paid to employee accounts or something like that? The whole problem with checks is that you have to match what's deposited with what's issued. I can go into my online bank now and issue a payment today and it'll be in your account in the morning, fully settled between the banks. That money is gone, has left my account, left the bank and isn't coming back unless I sue you to get it back. My paycheck comes straight to my account each month like clockwork the same way, it's settled the same night it's transferred into my account. That way all the instructions come from my account and I can't transfer money I don't have to do frauds like this. It's a lot harder taking control of my bank account that uses a code calculator than it is to make a piece of paper that looks like it came from my bank with a signature that looks like mine, after all I've signed quite a few places.

Sure, you can claim there's a few advantages to checks, but most of them are negated in that who really trusts a check that hasn't cleared? By the time it's cleared - the provisionally cleared you talk of here - you could have gotten yourself to an online bank, a telephone bank, a bank office and had the money electronically transfered or found an ATM and handed over cash. That is if you're not carrying around a cell phone capable of the same, usually you need a small code calculator as well but it's all pocket size. And if you have a terminal you don't even need that, the offline solution terminals use is pretty much like checks, you use the card, id and signature. That way it's up to the business to decide if they want things online, for example most taxis are now online so they know if you can pay the taxi ride or not or if the card is reported stolen. It's not quite that easy to issue an APB of a stolen checkbook, don't accept these checks.

Note to self: (0)

lavagolemking (1352431) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612840)

Don't do business with Chino Commercial Bank. Yes, yes, I know. All banks are going to play that same game, but if I can just convince myself that by not doing business with certain companies that screw their customers (not all of them) I might just feel a little better about our economic system...

Re:Duh... (1)

afxgrin (208686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613072)

The insane thing is that they accepted a cheque for $500k. A fuckin cheque? Are you kidding me?? You'd think for that sum of money they would require identification, registered addresses, multiple signatures, and some other bullshit. I couldn't even deposit $100 into a friend's bank account at a bank without providing some form of photo ID. The bank deserves to be scammed.

Re:Duh... (4, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612726)

> He later verified with the bank that the check had cleared.

No. He verified that the check had been credited to his account subject to collection. Decades ago the bank would have postponed crediting his account for such a large, unusual item until after they had collected from the bank it was written on, but current law does not allow them to do that. This scam is a direct result of that law.

Re:Duh... (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612760)

There is nothing at all in the law that prevented the bank from telling him it was "cleared" but still subject to being pulled back. One sentence is not too much to ask in the name of customer service and could have saved a lot of grief.

Re:Duh... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613202)

There is nothing at all in the law that prevented the bank from telling him it was "cleared" but still subject to being pulled back.

Of course it would be nice customer service... but he should not rely on it.

Bank customer service went down the toilet a long time ago when regional banks started getting consolidated by these faceless national conglomerates.

If you want to be safe legally, you need to know something about the law, or consult with your lawyer. If 500,000 grand is on the line, it seems appropriate to at least have a quick conversation with one.

Bank tellers definitely are not required to inform you of all your legal rights, or warn you about any risk(s) you might be running into.

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34613228)

500,000 grand is five hundred million dollars.

Re:Duh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612794)

I am a Nigerian ... I am shocked that people still fall for 419 scams. Every year many greedy people (the so called victims) fall for this utterly stupid trick. The bait is cast far and wide and some fool believes it ... if it sounds too good to be true, then it is.

That said, having traveled to Nigeria, I have seen some large condos built from the proceeds of this thing ... though those that make money also get entangled from their own criminal activities ... in the end crime does not pay.

x

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612906)

The bank can only do so much against a perfect, or near perfect, counterfeit. "Clearing" the money does not mean verification that the money was being used as intended. The crooks aren't as dumb as their grammar usually would indicate. This counterfeit was probably from a large volume, large spending account. The bank can only hope the company's bookeeper will notice the erroneous debit before its too late.

Who bares the blame here? The idiot that thought someone in Malaysia was paying 15% to an unknown schmuck? The bank that can't spot perfect counterfeits? The real account's drawer who (maybe) waited too long before noticing a $500K debit on their account? I'm not choosing, but I am just saying its not so cut and dry.

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34613140)

He deposited the check into his bank account. He later verified with the bank that the check had cleared.

Every bank with which I've done business and deposited check, usually via ATM, has always provided the disclaimer that funds deposited by check may not be immediately available even when my balance says it is.

Re:Duh... (2)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613184)

If you read the article you will notice the victim tried to be cautious. He deposited the check into his bank account. He later verified with the bank that the check had cleared.

The problem is that's not "being cautious" or the victim does not understand what "cleared" means; "cleared" items are only really certain to go through if they are bonafide, and the paying bank is solvent. If he were being cautious, he would have required a bank wire or certified funds, or he would have understood the paying bank has a RIGHT of CHARGE-BACK, and waited longer.

He would at the very least understood the "cleared" merely means the check was presented for payment and payment acknowledged by the paying bank, does not mean the funds are guaranteed, or that no issues are going to be raised, if the item is reviewed, or fraud is suspected.

The paying bank can change their decision and reject the transaction at any time during the settlement period according to local laws, after the check cleared.

Under the law, banks are not responsible for negligence, errors, misconduct, or default, by the other bank or other parties to the transaction.

The unavailability of funds to cover the invalid instrument is not the depositor bank's responsibility, it is up to the victim to seek recourse against the writer of the invalid check, and the initial "clearance" of the item does not relieve the depositor of liability.

Obviously, as can be seen here, "Cleared" means only that the transaction has cleared the banks' books, and provisional settlement of the transaction is completed; in his haste, he neglected to wait the longer waiting period, to ensure the item dispute period had sunsetted, and obtain confirmation of final settlement of the transaction.

Re:Duh... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612798)

We could see an end to it very very simply.

The bank is the one in possession of all the information. No to mention they have the requisite sophistication to understand the entire process, check clearing houses, etc.

A bank customer understands one thing, and one thing only, the money is available . The answer is simplicity itself. If the bank says the money is available they are entirely liable by law.... done. None of the Nigerian scams will work anymore because the bank always ends up rejecting it.

What we lose as customers is a little convenience. However, we could get a little bit back by allowing these courtesy provisional credits for less than $2,000 or a provisional credit of up $5,000 dollars can be issued for checks coming from an account with a minimum number of successful clearances, consecutively, and from U.S banks only.

Re:Duh... (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613086)

If that were the case, banks would never clear inter-bank payments over $500 or so until the entire window where the payment can be charged back has elapsed. That means all your large funds transfers take three to six months to clear (bad) or the window in which you can dispute a payment shrinks (bad). By overhauling our arcane and dilapidated ACH system to work more like how our credit networks function - specifically with regard to real-time authorizations - we can eliminate a lot of the big problems without creating a whole new set. Scammers would need access to a bank account with enough funds to cover the amount of money their scam involves and also allows debiting funds into arbitrary accounts. This gets rather fiddly when you're talking about international transfers, but if I'm going to dream about improvements to the ACH network I might as well go all the way with it.

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612270)

Hey, you know what Einstein say...

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
---Albert Einstein

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612322)

You would think by now that people who think what other people should think by now would know on what continent Malaysia is and is not.

I think.

Re:Duh... (2)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612330)

A fool and his money...

Re:Duh... (5, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612340)

Well, in his defense, Maylasia isn't in Africa. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maylasia [wikipedia.org]

When a bank tells you a check has cleared, that's only provisional subject to final clearance. Who knew?

Re:Duh... (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612424)

Generally you don't know and they won't tell you. Of course the victim is a moron, but the bank allows these things to go on because they tell you the funds are available before they really find out if the check is good. A check from an overseas bank might take weeks to properly clear. So how long should you wait? I have no idea and banks don't notify you when the check is found to be good; they only say something if it's bad.

Re:Duh... (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612856)

The check has cleared, yep thats final clearance as well. Double secret final clearance, well now that you ask there seems to be a 3 week hold on the check for irregularities.

This issue goes beyond Nigerian scam, a paypal payment can appear in your account but later be reversed days afterwards. How many ebay sellers wait a week to ship after payment? Certainly not me.

Re:Duh... (4, Insightful)

gfody (514448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613024)

Regardless of the fact that they told him otherwise, since the check hadn't actually cleared, the bank basically allowed him to overdraft his account by $400k and then took his home to collect the debt. The whole Malaysian scam thing is irrelevant. Does this bank let all of its customers overdraw 6 figures? I think this guy, his lawyer and the bank are all dumb as shit.

People listen ... learn Nigerian ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612860)

It is time you people learned some Nigerian words ...

* Wahala - Unnecessary problems ... usage: My girlfriend is giving me wahala

* Wayo - Being tricked ... usage: Your girlfriend is playing wayo on you

* Mugu - A fool ... usage: You are a mugu

* Okpe - A bigger fool ... usage: You are an okpe

* Pafuka - To die ... The driver crashed the car and pafuka'd

----

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612372)

TFA says:
> citizen of Malaysia.

You say:
> other African countries

Let me guess. You're an American?

Re:Duh... (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612384)

I'm not so sure the banks don't share in the blame. After all, they tell people the checks have cleared knowing damned well that most people don't know they might yet yank the money back out for a wide variety of reasons. In this case, the bank was more than happy to transfer a huge chunk of cash from the man's account, far more than he had ever had in there until the recent checks that had "cleared". Now it wants to take it out of his hide rather than pulling it back from the transfer.

The LEAST they could have done is told him when he checked that it was cleared was make sure he knew that didn't mean it couldn't be pulled out again. One lousy sentence out of a teller's mouth could have saved this guy half a million dollars worth of pain.

Yes, he should have known it was a scam (it's not just well known on sites like /., the local news has stories about it from time to time as well), but surely the banks should be VERY well aware of the scam and should at least make a minimal effort to warn their customers.

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612572)

The banking laws apparently are made for ... banks. Not us. It is sad that we never new this - that any check we put in could be "revoked" at some later unspecified time. It makes me very angry that we in the US bailed them out at all.

Re:Duh... (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613108)

Don't be ridiculous, they bailed themselves out. They just used your money.

Re:Duh... (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612388)

Of course the people that fall for this are rather naive, but the banks give a good helping hand in fucking you over. If the money is shown as in your account and the bank confirms the check cleared, what are people really supposed to believe? Most people have never heard the words "provisionally cleared" until the bank slaps them with a half a million dollar lawsuit. This is a very common fraud method, other variations is that they somehow "overpay" you and trick you into sending part of the money back or to pay some fraudulent transport company or whatever. In rare cases they'll even try to buy goods and recieve them before the check bounces. Fuck that, the banks should be forced to either clear the check or bounce the check and eat the loss themselves exactly once. If they have to bounce many checks, tough shit. It can't be that hard to set up something like a WU branch office in Nigeria that'll let you send money if you've paid them with real cash and not phoney baloney checks.

Re:Duh... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612552)

So what are you proposing as an alternative? That the banks wait until each check has totally cleared(taking weeks or longer in some cases) to totally clear? What about the vast, vast majority of the cases where the check does clear? Should everyone else be forced to wait weeks so morons won't have to suffer the consequences of their own stupidity?

Re:Duh... (5, Insightful)

darthwader (130012) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612656)

So what are you proposing as an alternative? That the banks wait until each check has totally cleared(taking weeks or longer in some cases) to totally clear? What about the vast, vast majority of the cases where the check does clear? Should everyone else be forced to wait weeks so morons won't have to suffer the consequences of their own stupidity?

I assume that is exactly what the poster is proposing, and it is a damn good idea. The bank does not have to FORCE everyone to wait, but they should not say "the cheque has cleared", and then later say "sorry, the cheque has un-cleared, we want that money back."

It's OK for the bank to give you access to the money before they have it, but they should be 100% clear about the possibility of they clawing the money back. They should tell you that it is "provisionally clear" when you are allowed to take the money out but there is a chance they will ask for it back, and they should tell you it is "clear" when they are completely confident that they money is there and you can safely spend it. And once they have told you the cheque is "clear", then they have taken the risk.

Banks could do a lot more to prevent fraud, but they don't have really strong financial incentives to, because most of the banking laws are designed to push the risk from them to you. Why should they care when they aren't the ones losing the money?

Check clearing is a centralized process. (4, Interesting)

crovira (10242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612676)

The bank DOESN'T sit on checks. They send the imprint (300dpi scan) and the information transcribed into a fixed format record to the check clearing house (its a branch [usually Chicago] of the Federal reserve who make billions of dollars off of the "float" so they DON'T ever let it linger.)

Banks make YOU wait x business days because they can.

The check has usually cleared within a single business day.

Re:Duh... (2)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612940)

what are you proposing as an alternative? That the banks wait until each check has totally cleared(taking weeks or longer in some cases) to totally clear?

Yeah, why not?

Why the hell should it take weeks? Why not 10 seconds for your bank to verify with the issuing bank -- they don't send messages by pony express any more, it's all digital. When it can make them money, they do the transaction in less than a second, keep it and play with it while you're waiting.

Re:Duh... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613068)

So what are you proposing as an alternative? That the banks wait until each check has totally cleared(taking weeks or longer in some cases) to totally clear?

Yes, banks -- which routinely delay availability of funds until checks have "cleared" -- should not say that checks have "cleared" and make funds available if the check has not, in fact, cleared.

If banks wish to provide additional service to their customers and make funds available when checks have not cleared but some preliminary and potentially inconclusive checks have passed, they should clearly distinguish to customers when this is the case rather than a check having actually cleared, particularly when the customer explicitly inquires as to the status of the check so that they do not take action based on a mistaken impression of the validity of the check.

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34613122)

Duh indeed......go check an atlas...or try google earth. Seems it's true, the average American is totaly ignorant of the world beyond US. Deserves to be conned, after all, it's his own greed that got him. Helluva negotiator though - 15% wow.

TYPICAL STUPID CANADIAN !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612228)

They are stupid up there. Too cold !! Too dark !! Don't make any excuses, either !!

Go for the real thing (5, Funny)

Stratoukos (1446161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612254)

Haha, what a tool. Everyone knows that only Nigerian citizens are the real deal.

How is this a Nigerian scam... (0)

ericvids (227598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612262)

... when the article clearly says it was a Malaysian doing the fraud, and the funds are transferred to a Hong Kong bank?

It's not even close to Africa.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612296)

It is similar to the infamous Nigerian Prince scams. That's why, maybe?

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612416)

Actually, it is the reverse. The foreigner is seeking the victim to be a money collector, instead of a money distributor. E.g. the money comes FROM someone else and is sent TO the person doing the email exchange.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (5, Informative)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612298)

At this point "Nigerian scam" refers to the technique and proceedings more than the origin.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

scifiman (751848) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612326)

To further clarify, the original email scam that asked a user to "assist in transferring money" involved Nigerian citizens/banks. So, as the previous poster pointed out, this "technique" is referred to as the Nigerian email scam.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

knacjesus (1047530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612308)

because it's the TYPE of scam ... aka 419 ... it doesn't have to be from nigeria ... it's just a variation ...

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

ericvids (227598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612412)

But the 419 scam *specifically* originates from Nigeria. After all it was named after the article number of the Nigerian criminal code.

The type of scam really is "Advance fee fraud" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance-fee_fraud [wikipedia.org] . The Nigerian scam is only a subtype of this.

Besides, the court decision in question http://www.rhlaw.com/blog/californialitigationattorney/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/E049170A.doc [rhlaw.com] specifically said "Nigeria-style email scam" instead of "Nigerian scam". Similarly, one cannot say this is a 419 scam, just a 419-type scam.

Anyway, the point is that this is poor reporting. The court decision exerted due diligence to be accurate in its wording; why not the blog article?

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612606)

To quote Futurama, "you are technically correct, the best kind of correct". Yes this is called an "advance fee fraud", but that isn't how most people refer to this kind of thing. You are interpreting language to be much more prescriptive than it actually is. Language is simply a tool for humans to communicate, not some sacrosanct set of rules that cannot and should not be changed. Most people know this kind of fraud from the Nigerian emails and thus thats how they refer to it.

It's just like "kleenex". Yes, it's technically called tissue paper, but thats now how a lot of people refer to it. If your grandmother asks you to hand her a kleenex and all you have is scott's brand tissue paper are you really going to say, "Sorry grannie, I don't have any kleenex."?

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

ericvids (227598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612660)

In legal circles, the language HAS to be technically correct. Otherwise you risk all sorts of things, from frivolous lawsuits to straining diplomatic ties.

This "Nigerian scam" identification comes from a law blog. That's why it's bothersome.

It's the equivalent of requesting your supermarket to stock up Scott's brand tissue (maybe it's cheaper) and they stock up on Kleenex instead, and the supermarket just shrugs it off saying "it's the same thing."

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612736)

This "Nigerian scam" identification comes from a law blog. That's why it's bothersome.

Would you be this bothered if a law blog said a theory "had as many holes as Swiss cheese" but they were picturing Cheese made in America?? Seriously, at this point "Nigerian scam" is a name for a type of scam, not a place of origin, just as surely as "Swiss cheese" is no longer (in the US) a name for Cheese from Switzerland, but rather for a type of cheese.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

ericvids (227598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612884)

Would you tell someone that s/he's an "Indian giver" if a Native American is within earshot?

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (2)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613134)

Would you tell someone that s/he's an "Indian giver" if a Native American is within earshot?

I wouldn't use that term under any circumstances. It's both derogatory and based on false beliefs (the belief, once common in the US, that American Indians traded away their land fair and square and then wanted it back, when in reality it was the Europeans who went back on their word in the overwhelming majority of agreements between the two groups). Neither "Nigerian scam" nor "Swiss cheese" are derogatory terms, nor are they based on false assumptions. I would use the phrase "Nigerian scam" within earshot of a Nigerian, and would say "Swiss cheese" within earshot of a Swissman, without hesitation, if the appropriate circumstances arose.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612978)

Most people know this kind of fraud from the Nigerian emails and thus thats how they refer to it. It's just like "kleenex"

Well, no, it's not like "Kleenex", because we're talking about human beings. Nigeria is a country with a population of 150 million people, and to label them all as thieves, or use their country's name as label meaning "thief" is pretty unpleasant, and basically racist. Consider how "jew" or "gypsy" was (and in some places still is) used as pejorative. And no matter how many Nigerian fraudsters there are, they're still a tiny percentage of the country; and also tiny percentage of fraudsters in the world.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612344)

... when the article clearly says it was a Malaysian doing the fraud, and the funds are transferred to a Hong Kong bank?

It's not even close to Africa.

It's Nigerian in the way "Thomas' English Muffins" are English style muffins made in Pennsylvania, US.

It's an email scan in the Nigerian pattern hence the shortcut of saying "Nigerian Scam".

But you know this and you were just trying to do Pedantic Karma Whoring or PKW for short. If you are Nigerian, I'd call it Nigerian Karma whoring.

Re:How is this a Nigerian scam... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612708)

... when the article clearly says it was a Malaysian doing the fraud, and the funds are transferred to a Hong Kong bank?

It's not even close to Africa.

News flash! Not all ponzi schemes are actually conducted by Charles Ponzi either, and some games of Russian Roulette are played by non-Russians outside of Russia...

My bad everybody. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612266)

I've been replying to these scammers and offering advice on how better to fool Americans. Sorry.

15 Percent? (2)

dark grep (766587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612282)

The man is obviously an idiot not to realize that anyone who would increase the commission to 15% could be negotiated up to 17%.

The bank should pay..... (0)

haruchai (17472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612288)

for his sterilization ( and that of his kids, if he has any ). The sooner we get idiots like him out of the gene pool, the better off we'll be.

Re:The bank should pay..... (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612406)

i do feel a hair sorry for him, but he was dumb enough to fall for this. Kinda surprised they extended that credit for that amount of cash if he doesn't least have that much in his account. Being such a large amount they should seen this could be some type of scam and put a hold on the checks til they clear. If they are from another country that should tipped the bank off something might be fishy since it can take a while for the check to clear fully. As i typed this it has made me thing that yea he should bare some of the burdon but bank should have to take some the blow since it didn't set off a red flag when someone deposit 800grand in checks.

Re:The bank should pay..... (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612692)

In many cases, I would side with the victim over the bank but for an Internet e-mail scam? What rock has he been hiding under for the last 15 years?
The 1st thing you should ask is, why me? If this was legit, why wouldn't the person be looking for a reputable professional? For 12% of that kind of money, any number of qualified pros would do the job.

But, I take your point about the large deposit. I doubt my bank would operate like that and I believe that banks here bear the responsibility of fraudulent transactions and cannot penalize the client unless it can be shown that person acted in bad faith.

The latest version of this scam (3, Interesting)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612338)

I received an e-mail of the latest version of this scam a couple of months ago. This time it was a US Marine trying to get money out of Iraq. After laughing at the idiocy of this I was joking with some friends that "Yeah, I bet the US government would like to get money out of Iraq too. Maybe this Marine should contact them." :P

Re:The latest version of this scam (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612452)

You're a fag

Re:The latest version of this scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612928)

Top or bottom?

Re:The latest version of this scam (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613126)

Money? No, no, no, it's oil they're trying to get out of Iraq.

bank responsibility (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612358)

For the most part of this, it is Charles Peters that is stupid. However, we really do need a system in which we can find out if a check REALLY does clear FINALLY and ONCE AND FOR ALL. It won't be easy to do, because if the account holder the check is drawn on is innocent, and only finds out a month later, they certainly must have a right to void the transfer. So this would have to be some specific number of days after which the check is absolutely as clear as cash. Maybe 100 days?

the bank told him his deposits cleared (2)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612370)

i think the problem is that the bank told him the deposits cleared, then they took it back saying the checks were altered.

Re:the bank told him his deposits cleared (5, Funny)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612750)

The banks were altering the deal - pray they don't alter it any further!

Not considered fraud until later.. (1)

nanospook (521118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612392)

Why didn't the bank validate the checks before they wired the money? They later determined they were frauds.. couldn't they have determined that earlier or should they have had a process in place to delay the transfer until totally verified? Thats a large amount to send out of the country to Malaysia.. Just asking the questions.. I don't think I picked up on it when RTFA..

Money lots of money being a debt collector! (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612448)

Earn 15% commissions when you collect on our debt accounts. We send you the accounts and contact info. You do the collection calls. Payments are sent directly to you. You take 15% out and send the remainder to us and we send you more accounts. OK, that's the pitch. The sting should be obvious to slashdotters at this point. The lure would be a few small accounts that are easy to collect on and the victim actually gets the 15%. They get an email saying "wow, I'm impressed ... we'll be sending you some better accounts". You know what that means.

What question works? (5, Insightful)

stonefoz (901011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612466)

Asking the bank if the check cleared yields an answer which doesn't mean shit. If none of that means anything, what question must one ask the bank to require them to not reverse the answer? Is there a point where they can't do what ever the fuck they want to do?

Re:What question works? (2)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613204)

Asking the bank if the check cleared yields an answer which doesn't mean shit. If none of that means anything, what question must one ask the bank to require them to not reverse the answer?

That's the real issue here. Yes, the guy is an idiot for falling for an obvious scam. But this whole check clearing process is bullshit. A check is either good or it isn't. It either clears or it doesn't. There should be no in-between. There should be none of this bullshit of "well ... it has provisionally cleared ... sort of .... maybe ..... we don't really know and even if we did know we won't tell you for a month or two".

It shouldn't take months. Or weeks. It shouldn't take more than a couple of days.

The bank sends the check off to the ACH who in turn electronically contacts the bank where the check is drawn..
"Hello. We have a check number ____ Account Number _____ In the amount of ______ Is this check OK?"

And within a reasonable amount of time, they have to tell you "yes it is good" or "no it's not any good" And that's the final answer. Period. If someone didn't do their homework, tough shit.

Fooled Twice (1)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612480)

Scammed not just by the email but by the bank too! They should work together.

Dear Slashdotters (1)

gearloos (816828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612490)

Dear Slashdotters, I am writing here in hopes that someone could help me with a problem. I assure you that you will be well paid for your efforts. I am a Martian Prince and have been exiled from my home planet. My planet and this one have been unwilling to allow me to transfer funds from zxabhins to US dollars. If you would be so kind as to help me transfer monies I would gladly give you 15% for your efforts... lol *Note for the sick society we live in: This is a JOKE. Get over it. I can see some jackass politician signing his latest DRM order and then getting on his computer and reading this and saying "get him".

Re:Dear Slashdotters (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612842)

Dear Slashdotters, I am writing here in hopes that someone could help me with a problem. I assure you that you will be well paid for your efforts. I am a Martian Prince and have been exiled from my home planet. My planet and this one have been unwilling to allow me to transfer funds from zxabhins to US dollars ...

Ah-HA! You're not a Martian Prince! Any true Martian Prince would have enough of an education to know that Martians always capitalize any and all H's in proper nouns. Once again bad grammar exposes another scam artist.

First clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612546)

Any e-mail that begins with "my friend" and you never heard of the person before ignore. Also if it if sounds too good it is too good.

Wow (1)

krazytekn0 (1069802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612550)

He actually had about $800K in the bank from the scammers in checks that cleared before he sent $458k back to them, Then the fraud was discovered by the bank and they attached his assets... oops

sic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612584)

Can someone explain to me why [sic] is used? There are no misspellings or words used incorrectly. Unless "[sic]" literally appeared in the original email? Either way, it's baffling.

YUO FAIL IwT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612618)

what if he had withdrawn the $808k first ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612738)

would the bank have still been able to come after him for it or would this have been the tip off that it hadn't "really" cleared ?

Re:what if he had withdrawn the $808k first ? (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612782)

would the bank have still been able to come after him for it or would this have been the tip off that it hadn't "really" cleared ?

Yes, they would have come after him. And they would have hit him with other fees and penalties as well.

Bad lawyering on both sides (4, Interesting)

mbstone (457308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34612820)

According to the California Court of Appeal opinion, neither the lawyer for the scam "victim" nor the lawyer for the bank identified the correct legal issue (apportionment of fault per the Uniform Commercial Code). And neither the lawyers nor the Court of Appeal picked up on the federal Check 21 law issue (the law that says banks are required to give credit against fake cashier's checks within one day after deposit).

The plaintiff's lawyer, because he didn't spot the UCC issue, almost certainly failed to discover or put on evidence that the bank was negligent in crediting the fake check.

Here, its hard for the bank to protect itself..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612848)

A lot of your are saying that the bank "cleared" the check and thus should be held liable.

I am not going to argue that point, but rather I want to state that the bank can be completely innocent here. In today's age, its possible to create a nearly perfect counterfeit of a check (especially for $500K). The bank can only put so many features on checks. "Clearing" the check does not mean going to the checks purported drawee and verifying that the funds are intended.

For instance, if the counterfeit check is from a walmart account where checks of that size routinely go out, it might take walmart a few days, or even weeks before it realizes that his has been erroneously debited. If the counterfeit was nearly perfect and passed all of the banks test, the bank can do nothing more until walmart notifies it that the check was not theirs. At this point, its probably too late.

Re:Here, its hard for the bank to protect itself.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34613124)

And that's why cheques should be phased out.

Anybody have the email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34612946)

Because I will do it for 14%.

Question (3, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34613032)

FTA: "Peters deposited the $808,988.90 in checks received from the purported Malaysian at the Chino Commercial Bank. After the bank notified Peters that the checks had cleared, Peters wire transferred $468,000 to Hong Kong. Shortly thereafter, the checks were dishonored after the bank detected that they had been altered. Since Peters was personally liable for any overdrafts on the account which had only a few thousand dollars, the bank sought to attach property owned by Peters to collect on the overdraft. The trial court granted the bank’s motion to attach against Peters in the amount of $458,782.60...

Despite the obvious life lessons, the legal one is this – don’t transfer funds received unless and until you know that collection of the original deposit is final. This is particularly true for lawyers and others who receive funds in trust. (Chino Commercial Bank v. Peters, Dec. 13, 2010, Case No. E049170.)"

So my question is this -- HOW do you know that collection of the original deposit is final? (I've never even heard that phrase before.) Apparently being told "the check has cleared" doesn't do it?

Bank should lose (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34613174)

The bank should eat it. I mean, come on - at what point can you rely on the deposit clearing with finality?

Someone here said that this is how it has to be because how does the bank know that the Malaysian and the victim didn't conspire together? Well, how does the victim know that the Malaysian and the bank didn't conspire together?!?

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