Park Forest Man Victim of Internet Fraud

ghana-bigfoto-com

A Park Forest man was a victim of an Advance Fee Solicitation Scam initiated by a woman claiming to live in Ghana, Africa. (Photo: BigFoto.com)

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Many people surfing the Internet have come across the infamous Nigerian emails claiming that the sender was in possession of large sums of money and needed a bank account off-shore to launder the money. While most probably delete these solicitations or filter them to a SPAM folder, many people have believed these stories and lost large sums of their own money.

One Park Forest resident recently fell victim to a similar scam, and lost a big chunk of change in the process, according to a police report on the incident.

On March 9, a resident came to the Park Forest Police Station to lodge a fraud complaint. A Park Forest police officer took the resident's complaint.  The victim reported that approximately eight months prior, he began to corresponding online who claimed to be a woman.  She related that she lived in Ghana, Africa, and had inherited $300,000 in gold from her mother.  She claimed that she attempted to leave the country with the gold to meet the Park Forest resident, but was allegedly arrested by customs agents in Ghana and the gold was confiscated, according to the police report.

At this point, the resident came in contact with another person on the Internet who identified himself as a Mr. Edwards. Edwards claimed to be a friend of the female subject, and he agreed to pay $25,000 to bribe the customs agents to release the gold.  The money was to come from a third individual named Mr. Richie in Canada.  Richie sent a check for $25,000.78 to the Park Forest resident.  The resident was instructed to send $25,000 to an account in the Netherlands.  Through this account, Edwards would get the money and pay off the officials in Ghana.  Once the officials were paid off, the detained woman would come to America to meet the resident.  The plan was that they would sell the gold to pay Edwards and Richie, keeping most of the money for themselves.

The resident deposited this check into a checking account.  Approximately two days later, the bank released $4,900 to the him.  The resident then sent the $4,900 to an account in the Netherlands via Western Union.  The bank then contacted the victim and advised him the $25,000.78 check did not clear.

“Something should have screamed to the victim that something wasn’t right here,” one police officer commented about the case. However, such fraud cases are not rare, and are becoming more common. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's website refers to this crime as an Advance Fee Solicitation Scam. According to the website:

Consumers also should be aware that there has been an upsurge in advance fee solicitation scams in northern Illinois originating from Kazakhstan and other former Soviet Republics. Additionally, consumers should be on the watch for similar advance fee solicitations from scammers pretending to be soldiers in Afghanistan.

In these solicitations, persons purporting to be American military personnel claim to have found cash belonging to terrorists and solicit the assistance of the recipient of the e-mail in bringing the money into the United States so that it will not fall into the hands of terrorists again.

The consequences for some have been very dire:

The U.S. Department of State cautions against traveling to destinations as requested in solicitation letters and reports that people who have responded to these advance fee solicitations have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered.

Madigan's site advises those who receive such solicitations to forward them to the Federal Trade Commission at [email protected]. The site advises anyone who has lost money to one of these schemes to send copies of their documentation to the U.S. Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division, 950 H Street, N.W., Room 402, Washington, D.C., 20223.

There were no arrests in this case. Police continue to investigate.

Source: Park Forest Police Department, IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov