Beware of increasing internet frauds - Save yourself from being swindled
By Madhu Nambiar
"Beware of increasing internet frauds -
Save yourself from being swindled" - a caution to the readers.
BEWARE OF INCREASING INTERNET FRAUDS
SAVE YOURSELF FROM BEING SWINDLED
Corrupt version of a Malayalam proverb is that "the cat that fell in hot water will scare even cold water". It is what happened in my case.
Then, when the Millennium was round the corner, Internet was not that much popular in the interior. In 1999, I got an Official Winning Notification from the Chairman of the Board Dr Jan Van Strabismus of Health Matters, Millennium Public Campaign, Fulfillment Office at 26A Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, by post informing that:
"Your name has been randomly selected by our computer as part of our ongoing Millennium Publicity Campaign to promote a new weight loss product called Diet Patch ™. No collection or entry fee is payable to collect this prize.
As a Chairman of the Board I can officially confirm, that the prize winnings have been reserved for you to receive. They will be transferred to your bank account, or paid by check (please indicate on enclosed order form).
To receive your prize winnings you must comply with the Promotion Rules of Conduct, which require all entrants and winners to purchase and use the product being promoted, i.e., Diet Patch ™. That is all we ask you to do to become eligible to receive your US$45,000 cash prize. .. "
The order form asks: (1) You are officially declared a winner of the Health Matters US $ 45,000 Cash Prize. (2) Payment of Prize. Please indicate below how you would like to receive the money: Bank Transfer, Check or Currency? (3) Are you willing to attend a presentation ceremony and to be photographed? Health Matters Promotions will pay for all travel and other expenses. Publicity or No Publicity? IMPORTANT: This section must be completed to receive your cash prize .. Please send me the following Diet Patches. My order definitely guarantees I will receive the cash prize: 30 Diet Patches US$ 55, 60 Diet Patches US$ 95, 90 Diet Patches US$ 135.."
The leaflet asks: "Why Are We Giving Away $1,000,000 Each Year In Cash Prizes?" Health Matters spends $1,000,000 each year in marketing and promoting its range of health products. …
Immediately I replied to them enclosing US$ 55 in Bank Draft payable to Health Matters claiming my "Guaranteed Cash Prize of US$ 45,000/="
In reply to my repeated reminders, the Group Finance Manager informed due to an oversight of their marketing department, the Rules of Conduct were not included in the mailing pack. After this letter, my registered letters to their Hong Kong Office and The Netherlands started returned.
With the dawn of the Millennium, Internet has become popular even in remote areas. On 11th May 2005, For a moment, it was a pleasant surprise for me, once a lottery player, to go through a e-mail dated 03rd May 2005, received on 11th May 2005 from Mrs. Ursula Hemming Field, The Promotions Manager, UK National Lottery, Brookmount House, 62-65 Chandos Place, Covent Garden, London, UK, WC 2N 4LP, informing of the announcement made on 03rd May 2005 about the winners of the UK National Lottery held on the 02nd April 2005 as part of the UKNL's second quarter of the year Bonanza.
Consequent to my (reportedly) winning of lottery in category A, I am informed that I have been approved for a lump sum pay of GBP 4,688,477.00 in cash, from a total prize money of GBP 14,065,431.00 shared among 3 winners in the category. All the participants were reportedly selected through a computer balloting system drawn from 96,000 names from Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, North America and Oceania as part of the UKNL's International Promotions Program which is conducted annually.
My fund is reportedly deposited with Municipal Trust Securities. I was asked to keep this award strictly from public notice until my claim has been processed and money remitted to my account, which is said to be a part of their security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participating of their program. They hoped that with a part of my prize, I would participate in their end of the year high stakes GBP 1.1 billion international lottery.
To begin my claim, I am directed to contact their Claims Agent, Mr. Elton Graham, Municipal Trust Securities, London UK, Phone: 44 703 194 9135, Fax 44 709 286 3416 for due processing and remittance of my prize money to a designated account of my choice.
I am also instructed to contact Municipal Trust Securities, not later than 14 (fourteen) days upon receipt of the notification. After this date, all funds will be returned as unclaimed. All correspondence to Mr. Elton Graham to be made either by fax or e-mail. I am warned that any breach of confidentiality on the part of the winners will result to disqualification.
Accordingly, I have formally contacted Mr. Elton Graham, Municipal Trust Securities by e-mail claiming my prize and sent him my details -present and permanent addresses with contact telephone numbers and bank account details along with scanned copy of my passport.
In reply to my claim, I have been informed by Agent Graham that he has received my claims file from UK National Lottery for due processing. Along with his reply, he has sent me a form and asked me to fill it carefully and send back either by fax or e-mail attachment and a fee of GBP 917.96 or its equivalent in my local currency to cover the transfer and handling charges to be made online http//www.westernunion.com, payment should be made to the Payment Agent (Mr. Michael Stone, Payment Agent, Municipal Trust Securities, London, UK). My total prize claim of GBP 4,688,477.00 has reportedly been insured to the real value and as such can not be deducted from. And this transfer and handling charges is in accordance with Article 44 Sub sections 144 of the United Kingdom Lotto Commissions Gaming Regulations as amended in the 1996 constitution. This is to protect UKNL's clients and to avoid misappropriation of funds. A certificate of prize claim promised to be sent to me via courier service immediately (within 48 banking hours upon the completion of the due verification process) the transfer of funds is effected.
Somewhere in the whole correspondence, I smacked something foul. In my search for bona fide of the reported prize, I got the official site of UK National Lottery. In reply, I was told that "it is a scam being operated in the UK and Europe and they are now targeting America. These people are criminals and should be reported to the Police.
Among a series of such fraudulent massages summary of one may be like this: "Dear Friend, I am the wife/son/nephew/cousin of the head of the state (of any civil unrest prevailing African nation), who was in power until he was overthrown. The late head of the state entrusted millions in cash which is deposited a security company. Now, based on the business trust I have on you, I would want you to come forward and receive this consignment containing the money in cash on our behalf from the security company for subsequent disbursement between you and us….before the government is seizing/freezing any Bank Account or valuables belonging to the late Head of the state's family and relatives…For your assistance, we have agreed to compensate you with 20% (some cases 15% + 5% for transaction expenses) of the total amount while the remaining 80% is for us. I assure you that the transaction is 100% risk free……." Isn't it enough for someone like us to be trapped?
A couple of years ago, when I was walking through a lane, a Bangladeshi expatriate called me and said : "Bhai, mujhe lottery mil gaya (Brother, I won lottery). Dhekko 1.2 million ka cheque" (look, cheque for 1.2 million), he took out an envelope from his pocket and showed me. When I spread my hand to see that letter and cheque he was reluctant to give me. But, at the sight I realized it was a sample cheque sent by lottery agent whose letters are flooded in letter boxes all over.
In another episode it was from a Luxury Cruise Ship job offer in which many Asian job seekers particularly professional Cooks had lost their 20 dollars. No one is dared to enquire about the fate of their "applications with 30 dollars or 20 pounds" when their initial thrill subdued which is what the brains behind the scheme conceived of.
Many multi million sales offers or steep cakes are largely originated in America or Canada and posted from Denmark and asked the recipient to send money to some other destinations. Their offer would be that you are the winner of millions but to send that million to you, you need to send few tens or you have to buy a small thing for which you have to pay few tens!
Beware of such episodes in the air and save yourself from being trapped!
Internet Fraud – Part-2:
IN THE NAME OF SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS
When internet has become an integral part of modern life, it's another side too has started flourishing. Modus operandi in the internet under-world is as parallel to that in the over-world. Cheating in chatting by some white collar criminals is increasing in the internet world these days.
A couple of weeks ago, Mr. X (name withheld on request) had received an e-mail from the Secretary General, Madam Cynthia Brady, of -
Transworld Youth Org.
No.157 West 47th Street
New York, NY 10036, USA
- informing him that consequent to a recommendation made by one of the student participant, who got his profile from internet and had some correspondence, his participation for the forthcoming international conferences sponsored by TRANS WORLD AFFAIRS Relief in United States in memory of those who lost their lives in the World trade centre bombing of the September 11th in New York and Washington DC, to be held at Transworld Convention Hall, NYC New York, USA, from 27th August 2005 to 31st August 2005, and the second one to be held at Palm Beach Hall, Dakar, Senegal, from 04th September 2005 to 08th September 2005, had been confirmed.
Accordingly, a file number TWYAC/US00806/ICOWAC2555/05DS was opened for him with the information that he supplied. TWYO promised him that all the arrangements including visas, hotel accommodation, feeding, taxi from place of stay to the place of conference, air tickets from Oman to USA and USA to Senegal and back to Oman by Air France would be provided to the participants by the donors and sponsors, except the hotel accommodation for the second conference to be held in Dakar, Senegal, from 4th September to 8th September 2005.
A quote from one of their letters regarding Senegal hotel booking is: "This law was imposed by the organization because most of the participants try to avoid make their reservation and give one reason or the other for that but at last they disappoint the organization. So if you really want to be part of the event in New York, you have to make your reservation in the African hotel.
It is the law of the organization that all participants must have to pay half of their reservation fee according to this year decision by the executive body and any amount given to any of our participants by these hotels is their part payment to be paid, so you have to contact the below hotel in Senegal since the previous hotel told us that they are now filled up. You have to contact them immediately via telephone or email so to avoid late registration or cancellation".
HOTEL ESPIRITO SANTO LTD
Rue 24 x 54 Avenue Bourgiba,
Dakar Senegal West Africa.
FAX: +221-826-982-6 /826-117-8
"The aim of the Conferences is to impart on our youths the need to avoid Street Life, Violence and Gangsters, which is on the increase today among the Youths, the Importance of Education in every human life, Bad Leadership and its effect in the Society….
We can only accept participants under recommendation. But, since your recommendation come from one of the students participants, we will now give you the opportunity to participate in the events, Transworld Affairs Conferences. The Conference is scheduled to take place in Trans world convention hall NYC New York, United States from 27th to 31st of August and the second conference POLITICAL, SOCIAL ECONOMIC PROBLEMS IN AFRICA AND WAR AFFECTED CHILDREN AND HIV/AIDS INFECTION will take place at Palm Beach Hall Dakar Senegal in West Africa form 4th to 8th of September 2005. The first Conference will take place in New York, NY USA, while the second Conference is schedule to take place in Dakar Senegal (West Africa).
Every one is entitled to Participate in the coming Youth's Conferences regardless of your Religious belief. You can attend alone or only minimum of four (4) or maximum of seven (7) is expected to participate together as a group from one country and none of them will be less than eighteen years of age. They are advised to participate in both conferences. It does not necessary means that you must belong to an organization before you can attend this event. A group of persons with a minimum educational background could be invited to represent their countries. Any group or participants are allowed to come with their own agenda or suggestions during the event".
Who will miss such an opportunity to visit the US? Mr. X accepted the invitation and contacted the above hotel where he booked a single room for five days from 04th September 2005 to 08th September 2005, by paying the full payment (US $ 525 – Euro 400) as instructed by the Transworld Youth Organization, and got the hotel booking confirmation which was forwarded to Transworld Youth Organization in USA, for further processing of his participation to the conferences".
On getting the Dakar hotel booking confirmation, the Transworld Youth Organization asked him to contact Barrister George Ward (E-mail: transworldvisasection(at)usa.com) and Mr. X contacted the Barrister. In reply to Mr. X's mail, the Senior Advocate, Barrister George Bill Ward, Department of States, asked him to send US$ 1,000 as refundable security deposit to the same hotel and send the confirmation along with the duly filled visa form which was sent to him in PDF format.
The Senior Advocate informed him: "We advise you to follow our respective instructions to enable you complete our requirements since this is your first time of attending or participating to our event. We want you to understand that due to what most of our participants who came from Asia, Europe and Africa continents performed after the last event held in Washington, in which most of them ran away and refuse to go down for the second stage of the conference which held in Beijing, China.
We have made it mandatory that each participant who is not yet full member of Transworld Youth Organization should deposit the sum of $1,000 equivalent with the African hotel management where he or she made his or her reservation. Participants should note that the money will be refunded back to every participant who has made the $1,000 deposit, on your check in to the African hotel where you have made your deposit. A receipt of your deposit payment will be issued to you by the hotel management where you are to make the deposit, that will stand as a proof that the sum total of the amount have being deposited on their custody and should be refunded back to you on the point of your check in…"
Mr. X tried to contact TransWorld Youth Organization over telephone but failed. When this non accessible to telephone was communicated, he was informed that "…the phone is having some problems for now due to the Emily breeze that blew across the Mexico up to the side of Texas of which most of the line was disrupted and this affected most of the lines here in America which they are all under repair, so all you have to do is to communicate with the organization through e-mail and also send any documents through attachment to them for it is the easy and fastest means to reach the organization for now."
Right from the beginning, Mr. X smacked the invitation as a spam. But, the clarification given by them for his queries somehow put him in an indecisive position. He was in contact with different sources to know the credibility of the conferences and bona fide of the invitation. But, no firm reply received until he remitted money for Senegal hotel booking. Different weekend holidays in Oman and in USA have delayed in getting him replies from his sources of contact.
By the time he was asked to remit a refundable deposit for US $ 1,000/= he got reply to his enquiry to US Embassy in Muscat saying that 'it seems to be fraud case'.
Then, he asked the Hotel to cancel his hotel booking and refund the money, as per Section 3B of their refund policy. In reply to it, the hotel manager asked him to get clearance from Transworld Youth Org. who said the decision will be made only after the conference is over.
A conference never going to be held, I guess! Will Mr. X get the money he paid for his hotel booking refunded? Won't Dr. Carlos Delegado Morena, Manager, Hotel Espiritosanto Ltd, Dakar, Senegal, stick to the hotel's refund policy? Mr. X's friends and I waited to know this. But, all letters sent to the hotel and the youth organization by e-mail and by post returned undelivered. And Mr. X was clearly bowled out, lost US $ 525, his time and dream.
Internet users must be aware of increasing spam which is operated in easily trappable ways. The Internet underworld dons devises their tools and offering well cooked up stuffs as saleable commodity. For them, International conference in the name of September 11th is one of the hot stuffs, until more acceptable new stuffs are received. For them internet is a medium for playing a game of camouflage and concealment.
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