Every crowd has a silver lining

“The scam claimed over 20,000 victims in 45 countries including Britain, France, Germany, the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and a number of Arabic countries, officials said.”

The Register, Jan Libbenga

419 scams carried out by a gang in Spain amazingly attracted 20,000 people to part with real money in ‘advance fees’ in the hope of gaining large cash rewards. Spanish police arrested a total of 310 people in raids this week in three cities in Spain.

A 419 scam takes the form of an e-mail inviting you to benefit from a quasi-legal money laundering operation. You are (supposed) to provide some details and pay a small ‘bank clearing fee’. Yeah, sure. Scams pitched by the gang operating from southern Span included, according to The Register’s journalist, the following

  • Stash away money taken out of Iraq by Sadam Hussein’s family members
  • Money found in the remains of the Twin Towers building after the 11th September attack
  • More details in Anatomy of a 419 scam from The Register

It costs very little to bombard millions of people with scam e-mails, and a spoof Web site can be constructed fairly cheaply given access to easily learned Web design skills. If one in ten thousand fall for the scam, the gang is making money. Truly, W T Barnam would be lughing his head off (“Every crowd has a silver lining”, “There’s one born every minute”)

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