The Nigerians are back at it again – and this time their target is the World Cup.
The infamous 419 trap that has withstood the test of time to become the decade’s most enduring tech scam is now targeting prospective visitors to the 2010 games to be held in South Africa in June.
Last week, South African police and the Nelson Mandela Foundation issued a warning advising people to ignore participating in the fraudulent “Fifa 2010 World Cup Lottery draw”.
Potential victims are contacted through an email which informs them that they have won up to $2 million in cash prize in the “Fifa 2010 World Cup Lottery draw”.
The e-mail bears a prominent picture of Mandela holding the World Cup, with logos of Fifa and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The con artist initially asks for personal details to be faxed to a UK number and slowly reels in the victim with snippets of information to a point where he wants a small amount to be deposited into a bank account, ostensibly to pay for stamp duties and fees for advocates.
According to a report appearing in The Mercury, a South African newspaper, the scammer who calls himself Semone Chema is actually based in the UK and has a thick Nigerian accent.
Soon after initial contact, Mr Chema will then recommend that the victim should file a legal claim in order to receive a certificate.
Once a fake document – complete with logos and required official signatures – is released to the target, they are then advised to submit an affidavit to permit the transfer of the money to a bank account in South Africa.
The victim can chose to let the Nigerians take care of the pesky paperwork by allowing them to nominate an attorney on their behalf who will represent their interest and get the vital legal documents that will help facilitate the transfer.
The latest incident aside, the Nigerian 419 scam is undoubtedly one of the most versatile swindles of the last decade.
While in 2000, many requests were sent by letter or fax, the more tech savvy 419ers now randomly select email addresses or even mobile phone numbers to send out thousands of invitations.
Though the technology has changed, the basic format of the appeal has not.
Most victims are baited with offers of colossal amounts of money which they can earn a share of if they let the kind scam artists access their bank accounts.
Once they are reeled in, a myriad of procedures and legal documents conspire to keep the victim away from the grand prize, all of which require the recipient to part with small amounts of cash.
The scam artistes trade on the premise that most people are happy to receive money for doing nothing, as well as the ego boost that most recipients experience when they feel they have been “specially selected”.
A copy of the same scam that was sent to Business Daily said all participants were selected randomly from the “World Wide Web-site, through a computer draw system and extracted from over 100 million companies and individual emails address.”