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Scam Involving Counterfeit Checks Lead to 77 Arrests

A global crackdown by the US postal authorities on financial scams on Internet since January 2007 led to seizure of fake checks of value $2.1 Billion and arrest of 77 people in Canada, the Netherlands and Nigeria, reported US officials on October 3, 2007.

The scammers belonging to organized criminal gangs in West Africa sent tricky spam mails promising recipients to pay them "processing fees" if they deposited checks and for remitting the apparent proceeds to the fraudsters. Recipients later found the checks to be counterfeit.

The malicious strategy uses US financial systems that instantly credit amount in the name of a bank client who makes a check deposit even if the bank takes substantial time discovering a counterfeit check and reclaiming the amount from the client. At the end, victims lose the money they send, as the checks turn out to be bogus.

The deceit usually begins with e-mail informing the recipient of winning a lottery or of an inheritance, and asks for help to ship the amount into the US. It asks the victim to credit the check that would arrive by post and then forward certain amount of the money to its sender. When this sender receives the money, he disappears while the check bounces and the victim finds himself in loss.

The crackdown led to 60 arrests in the Netherlands, 16 in Nigeria, and one in Canada, said US Postal Inspection Service Inspector Greg Campbell, who is in charge of international security. Reuters published this on October 4, 2007. Three suspects belonging to Nigeria and the Netherlands have been sent to New York for trial. Meanwhile, USA is trying for extradition of five others.

Campbell said that his team has arrested scammers, closed the Internet cafes, and stopped entry of counterfeit checks to the US. They have also issued 188 search warrants on incoming foreign mail via Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport effecting from April 2007.

John Potter, the Postmaster General, hopes the crackdown on the con artists will send a message to Americans to be wary of fraudulent schemes of this nature and to also spread the word around, as published by KWTX on October 3, 2007.

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» SPAMfighter News - 10/17/2007

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