Internet fraud - The British (and Irish) Connection
See also: What happened to my money? All 419 fraud victims should read this.
English is an official language in Nigeria and Nigerian fraud criminals often pretend to be British and to represent British companies. How do they manage to fool so many vulnerable people? They enjoy the help of British and Irish companies and institutions!
In Britain, confidence in the crime and justice system is at an all-time low. Read on to see how the reluctance of British governments and their regulators to confront the Internet fraud problem has allowed foreign criminals to undermine Britain's historical reputation for financial probity and fair play.
The cash collection. Internet fraud flourishes because Western Union and other cash transfer companies will refuse to give victims the address at which their money was collected by criminals. This affords the fraudsters a degree of protection which other criminals envy. It explains why we can only publish data on the countries used for cash collection and not the addresses of the agency offices concerned. We can be sure, however, that many overseas victims are directed to send money to Britain via Western Union. Until February 2009 the Western Union service in Britain was run by an Irish company, Fexco, of which Western Union was a major shareholder. In that month, according to The Irish Times, "IRISH FINANCIAL services group Fexco has netted $159.5 million in cash from a deal that involves it selling its money transfer business to Western Union and acquiring the Colorado-based companyís 25 per cent stake in the Kerry business.". However, Fexco will apparently continue to run call centres on behalf of Western Union and to provide other services.
Note - August 2009: We might imagine that many fraud collections are made in the area of Thamesmead, south-east London. Thamesmead has been called "the fraud capital of Britain" and the "European capital of credit card fraud". Originally built for the accommodation of people moved as a result of slum clearance in central London, in recent years the concrete system-built towers have become home to criminals from around the world. Only 67% of the inhabitants are classified as "white British". A BBC News Magazine article says Thamesmead has been "dubbed Little Lagos because of its association with west African criminal gangs".
The UK bank account. Yes, it seems that the fraud criminals can easily set up UK bank accounts. Check the evidence for this here. The British banking industry and the regulators, the FSA, seem unconcerned. We see no evidence of action to curb the criminals. As of July 2009 some UK politicians have demanded a new form of banking regulation. So far as we are concerned, this seems overdue.
The telephone number. The British telephone number is easy - two UK companies, Magrathea Telecoms Ltd. and Open Telecoms Intl. Ltd. seem to specialise in supplying "personal" or "call forwarding" numbers to the criminals. These numbers allow the criminals to use the +44 prefix so that victims think they are calling the UK - when their calls may in fact be routed to a criminal based in another country.
The UK address. 145-157 St John Street, London, EC1V 4PY. According to a BBC report, this is the address used by a company which sells its use as a registered office address. Because there does not seem to be an obligation to check that users of the service are legitimate companies, criminals are attracted to it. According to the BBC, the address is in common use among fake companies operating "boiler room" fake share scams.
The UK domain name. What about a .co.uk domain name? Yes, fraud criminals find these very useful when they want to trade on Britain's (threatened) reputation for business integrity. NOMINET, the Internet registry for .uk domain names seems quite happy to sell .uk names to fraudsters. We used to report cases of abuse to Nominet, but became sickened by their mealy mouthed excuses for inaction. An investigation by Brian Milligan, a business reporter for BBC News, revealed the depth of the problem. Apparently around "6% of registrations for "co.uk" domain names come from foreign companies, mostly based in China ... Nominet, which is responsible for giving out domain names in the UK, is unrepentant. It is proud of the fact that eight million "co.uk" addresses are now in existence, and that the UK operates one of the most liberal internet regimes in the world. We ask Nick Wenban-Smith, the legal counsel for Nominet, whether consumers are being hood-winked by the "co.uk" name. "Maybe," he replies tentatively. "People need to be vigilant." See full text of BBC report .
We don't want to be too unkind to Mr. Wenban-Smith, we were not present at the interview, but he seems to confirm our impression that Nominet will continue to accept registrations from fraud criminals. Presumably he is in place not to act in the interests of the genuine .co.uk domain holders and Internet users as we might have hoped, but to protect Nominet from the threat of legal action by aggrieved fraud victims!
The politicians. Although the average Web user remains vulnerable, the rich have a good chance of gaining the British government's protection. The UK Telegraph newsaper noted on the 16th August 09 that "Lord Mandelson, who has taken over responsibility for digital policy, is said to have been persuaded of the need for a tougher approach" (to the question of digital rights)... "Lord Mandelson is understood to have been successfully lobbied by film and music industry to push for the changes. However, a Department for Business spokesman denied that Lord Mandelsonís change of heart was influence by his acquaintance with David Geffen, the Hollywood mogul who is a leading critic of illegal file-sharing, with whom he dined last week while holidaying in Corfu at a villa owned by the Rothschild banking family."
InterFraud / IFA Group, UK . Please, before forwarding suspicious mail, check that you have included FULL INTERNET HEADERS (see below). It is not always possible to respond to reports of fraud mail, but appropriate action is always taken.
N.B. If you need to send suspicious mail for examination, please be sure to forward it complete with its full Internet headers. If you are not sure how to do this, check the help file of your mail software.