1. The Nigerian Government Position Paper we received in 1993 contains basically the same content and promises of the 1996 Paper. The Nigerian Government always insists it "has done" or is getting ready to "do" something about the Scam. It didn't happen in 1993. It is not happening now.
2. The Nigerian Government's primary response to the Scam continues to be Victim Bashing.
3. We have US Government official documents on file which state that the Nigerian Government is uncooperative in fighting the Scam and that it does not cooperate with law enforcement agencies ( including, specifically, FBI and Interpol ). Faxed copies available on request.
4. The Nigerian Government still has not declared immunity and confidentiality for foreign victims of the Scam in return for detail, including money trail data, on Scam operations.
5. The Nigerian Government still has no extradition treaty with the United States.
6. The Scam has been running for at least ten years, therefore the Nigerian Government's reliance on the 1989 "closing" of the San Francisco Consulate as a defence against our Associate's report ( which was also given to the US Department of Justice ) of Nigerian Diplomatic Corps involvement in the Scam is a meaningless non sequiter.
7. We have already covered Nigerian Government advertising "efforts" in our "Brief Proofs of Nigerian Government Involvement" statement and related documents.
8. The 419 Coalition has been researching the Scam for the last four years. "Nascent" does not apply.
9. Regarding "freewill contributions are appreciated", no apology. The same high level of service is received by all whether or not a contribution is made.
10. In terms of Credibility, we can prove what we say with independently verifiable hardcopy documents and sworn statements while the Nigerian Government continues to have problems with independent verification of its Scam fighting claims. We are perfectly willing to let YOU be the judge as to who's credible and who's not in this matter.
NOTE: The Full Text of the Nigerian Government Position Paper on IIS and The 419 Coalition to which this Response refers is available on the International Investigation Services website. We also have a copy posted below, scroll down.
We are not sure exactly What the Government of Nigeria hoped to accomplish by issuing this Official Position Paper, but we suspect it was supposed to bully and intimidate us into silence - and 419 Coalition and IIS have received Demands from Government of Nigeria Officials to shut down our sites on several occasions since. However, the Reader will notice that we have Not been silenced and that our sites are still up for all to read. Like we said above, we are perfectly Willing to let YOU be the judge as to who's Credible in this matter and who's not.
When the international community faced the serious threats posed by terrorism, it came together and globally confronted the menace, it still does so both at the United Nations and at the regional levels. The same efforts are being channeled to combat the menace of drug trafficking, money laundering etc. As Advance Fee Fraud (AFF) poses serious threats and risks to international business communities, it, too should be addressed in the context of global crime by all well-meaning countries. It was against this backdrop that the Nigerian Government, through its central law agency, the Nigerian Police Force, urged the international community during the 63rd General Assembly Session of INTERPOL in Rome, Italy from 28th September to 4th October 1994 to pool resources together to fight AFF.
The Crime itself emanates from conspiracy between some dubious Nigerians and gullible foreigners to transfer, illegally abroad, non-existing funds belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria to foreign accounts, by using business and bank accounts of the greedy foreign collaborators. In the process, the foreigners get defrauded.
Scam letters (or scheme letters) are the major tools of the crime. In the past, these letters informed the prospective victims of huge contracts for purchase of vehicles, computers, agricultural machinery, etc. at Ministries of Defense, Transport and Aviation, Agricultural and other State Ministries. But in recent times, advance fee fraud letters have been found to intimate prospective victims of millions of dollars from fictitious or allegedly existing and unclaimed estates of deceased individuals or from previously fulfilled contracts in Nigeria which is available for claim by relatives of the deceased. Such letters often accompany copies of fake wills of deceased foreigners and are usually sent to their spouses or charity organizations.
For instance, fake letters were sent to some European foundations and charity organizations recently in which the trickster who claimed to be a Nigerian lawyer reported the death of a European lady in Nigeria who lived in the country for several years. She was alleged to have given the sum of US$250,000.- in a Codicil to her will to the European organization. The trickster lawyer thereafter demanded payment of inheritance tax before the money can be sent to the organization.
Complexities in the scheme are brought in by implicating the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Finance, and Federal Inland Revenue which are allegedly involved in the releasing and transferring of funds, approving remittance of funds, and collecting contracts taxes respectively Investigation conducted so far revealed that the documents forwarded to victims emanating from the above Federal institutions are forgeries.
Nigeria has developed a comprehensive and effective response to the fraud which the main objectives are to create awareness and increase prosecution and recoveries in cases where funds were lost, cutting losses and intercepting various attempts. Specific steps in this direction include:
Crackdown on the syndicates by the Police resulting in the shifting of base by the scamsters to neighboring countries to dupe their victims.
Amendment of fraud laws to deal with Advance Fee Fraud. This was accomplished in 1995 with the promulgation of the Advance Fee Fraud and the other Fraud Related Offenses Decree which amended the 1984 Decree.
Preventive approaches by keeping surveillance in hotels where prospective victims often lodged during the process of this illegal transfer of money involving a visit by the foreigners to Nigeria under pretext of going to sign fund transfer papers and contract.The aim of these efforts is either to alert the intended victims of the dangers inherent in relating with the tricksters which may result in loss of money, valuables, and even lives and to arrest the tricksters before they succeed in duping their preys. The latter action however, offers little or no evidence for prosecution. For instance, based on intelligence, would-be victims of advance fee fraud have been intercepted in various hotels and the Central Bank premises in Lagos where they were meeting with the tricksters pending when they will be lured into parting with their money in foreign currencies. In one such instance, when the foreigners were intercepted they calmed they were in Nigeria only for sightseeing. It took the combined efforts of the Police and the Embassies of the these nationals to retrieve their passports from the syndicate to get them repatriated. The expatriates often conceal the real nature of their visit. They tend to have complete reliance on their would-be business partner.
Local (including foreign Embassies) and foreign media enlightenment to educate foreigners on the crime. Press releases are often made and occasional seminars organized to intimate both local and international media with the activities of the fraudsters so as to inform the public correctly.
Prosecution of successfully investigated cases of advance fee fraud. To ensure successful prosecution the Police has often embarked on shouldering the responsibilities and providing security.
Sourcing of local/overseas training facilities for Officers involved in the investigation of the crime so as to update their knowledge, skill and abilities to manage the crime.
Intercepting the letters through preemptive raids on places suspected to be AFF operator's base. For instance, in one of such raids carried out recently, 1,215 AFF letters ready for distribution to various countries were intercepted. The following structures have been created to implement the comprehensive plan developed by the Government to fight the crime:
The Special Fraud Unit of the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau of the Nigerian Police force. It is this body that investigates, collects and collates reports, and arrests and presents the materials for the prosecution of a case against a criminal.
The Special Tribunal (Miscellaneous Offences) Decree.This Tribunal which was first established in 1984, has been trying the cases that have been brought before it.
Some problems have been encountered that tend to militate against the Nigerias law enforcement efforts. These are:
The fear of coming to Nigeria to give evidence by victims based on threats by suspects that witnesses will be prosecuted as accomplices, or that they would be kidnapped and killed. Full protection has been offered to such doubting witnesses.
Loss of vital documents employed during the perpetration of the crime Often, copies of original forged documents are solely provided by the victims, or the original documents stolen or withdrawn by tricksters from victims, or the original documents stolen or withdrawn by tricksters from victims who may be unaware of the legal implication.
Difficulty in collecting evidence from foreign banks due to customers confidentiality and legal obstacles. Lack of cooperation from victims who as a result of greed or whatever reason ignore Police warnings. In many instances, these foreigners checkout of hotels, where they have been staying when warned against dealing with tricksters to avoid being seen by anybody other than the tricksters. They even, sometimes, threaten, or make Police reports, or take civil actions against hoteliers for "meddling" in their business in Nigeria. Some even engage in outright refusal of caution and go to deal with the tricksters. In one of such cases recently, the victim was taken to his countrys Embassy and flown home only to come back to Nigeria a few days later believing he could succeed in the illegal fund transfer through his account.
Undaunted by these problems, the Special Fraud Unit has been sorting through tons and tons of documents, especially in recent times, to carry out their investigations in a very meticulous manner. Thus by September 1994, one year after the inception of the fraud unit, 1,729 scam letters together with their supporting documents were carefully examined for the purpose of bringing the culprits to book. Out of this number, only 28 cases could be made against the criminals based on the prima facie evidence of loss of funds by the victims. A total of 9 of these cases were brought before the Tribunal for adjudication. These figures have tremendously increased with the intensification of efforts by the Special Fraud Unit occasioned by the spirit and content of the amended decree. As soon as this office obtains the current figures, they will be brought to the attention of the public.
It is in this vein, that the Consulate General is at loss to understand why a nascent group which calls itself the "419 Coalition" has decided to build its organization on the attempt to disparage, discredit and nullify the efforts of the Government of Nigeria. But in doing so, the group has, either wittingly or unwittingly, exposed itself to suspicion and, in the process, impugned its integrity. For, while the group in a statement said to be widely circulated to the public claim that its mission was to render FREE services to interested parties for the screening of the scam letters, the gathering of data and other general information and circulating same through the Internet, it, in another vein, stated that it will appreciate donations for the efforts. This smacks of 419 itself. As if to further underscore this dubious character, the group stated that a "Coalition associate" (presumably, one of its members) met with Nigerian Diplomatic Corps personnel in the Nigerian Consulate in California. This is, to put it mildly, a false statement because the Nigerian Consulate in San Francisco folded in 1989.
Given these revelations, we cannot but conclude that the so-called "419 Coalition" is out to scam members of the public by purporting to render FREE services and at the same time collect money as donations. This group should be avoided and must not be allowed to carry out its dubious activities. We advise the public to be alert in order to avoid being scammed by any person or group that may have the same outlook and motive as that of C. A. Pascale and his associates. Such person or organization should be promptly exposed and reported to the United States law enforcement nearest to the prospective victim.
The Government of Nigeria has, through a number of its agencies worldwide, been taking up advertorials to inform the public about the schemes and activities of these fraudsters. Such advertorials have not ceased to advise people or organizations who are sent the scam letters to bring them up to the attention of the nearest Nigerian diplomatic or consular mission for scanning. Where there is no such mission, they are advised to seek the assistance of the nearest Chamber of Commerce or the Police. Those who find themselves in Nigeria should either seek assistance from their country's Embassy/Consulate or approach the Police there. This Consulate General will continue to enlighten the public about the scam letters and those wishing to build up fortunes through the means being employed by C. A. Pascale and associates.
Consulate General of Nigeria New York. 26th of April 1996.