Is the United Nations Getting in on Nigerian E-Mail Scams?

 @https://twitter.com/dantovrov
on February 23 2012 2:18 PM
Money Order
A Nigerian scammer is posing as a representative from the United Nations. Reuters

The United Nations has $2,811,061.00 for you in an account that's ready to be transferred by the United Parcel Service from Nigeria to the United States. It just needs some information from you first.

Advance-fee fraud -- also known as the Nigerian scam -- is older than the Internet itself. Typically, an exiled prince needs help accessing millions of dollars from a foreign bank account, for which he will pay a handsome reward. Of course, there is no prince, and to help the letter recipient needs to send either his or her bank account information or an upfront free, which will never be seen again.

It's an old and obvious farce (to most), but the rules and players in the game continue to change. Now, instead of a prince it's the United Nations Compensation Committee, which has millions waiting at a regional Nigerian branch of UPS.

I am the manager at the UPS branch, a man calling himself Alex Ade said over the phone. The payment is in custody. We do not know who is the actual beneficiary of the parcel. Please send an e-mail with information to verify the details before we can send the parcel.

The information needed includes a name, telephone number, home address, and identity ID number.

Once it is verified, we send you a procedural on how to send the parcel, Ade said, adding that there is a $95 shipping/handling fee.

Here is Ade's original e-mail, which included a Nigerian telephone number and is signed by both Ade and Delaney Pat, the Programme Manager at the United Nations Compensation commission:

Having received your Claim Application, I am writing to inform you that I am a delegate from the United Nations Compensation commission and to notify you finally about your outstanding Compensation payment of $2,811,061.00 USD with identification number UPS/UNCC/280/012.

This compensation is being made for losses/damages as a result of accident or illness.

For more information, contact the UPS Dispatch Officer with your Name, Resident Address and Telephone Number for the delivery of your cashier check.

UPS, for its part, monitors cases of fraud intently. While the U.N. letter is unfamiliar to UPS, the UPS name is commonly used in both mail and e-mail scams, so the company is familiar with these schemes and their legal implications.

This sounds like a classic 419 scam, UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said of the letter.

The 419 name comes from article 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, which deals specifically with obtaining property by false pretenses, cheating and fraud.

Any person who by any false presence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years, the law states.

Aside from being illegal, this type of scam damages a company like UPS because it is dangerous for its customers and tarnishes its fastidiously manicured global brand. UPS has taken fraud cases to court and the company routinely works with the FBI, Interpol and other information sharing groups.

We take this really seriously. Fraud is an insidious global issue, said Rosenberg.

The bad guys continue to look for new ways to deploy technology, and we are vigilant about being on top of it, she added.  

The United Nations e-mail was sent from someone with an @dgoh.org address, a stem that has been flagged by the ScamWarners online fraud center; the UPS-Nigeria coupling is apparently common for this sender.   

The U.N. Compensation Commission is actually a real organization. It was created by the Security Council in 1991 as a way to compensate the victims of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The money for payments came from a fund that receives a percentage of the proceeds from sales of Iraqi oil.

The agency seems to already be aware of the e-mails. The Compensation Commission could not be reached for comment, but it has put a notice out online warning would-be marks.

It is not possible anymore, no matter what the circumstances, to accept new claims...  All payments have already been made through respective Governments and UNCC will not make any further payment to any individual or company. The UNCC does not have any branches in any country and does not have any individual or bank as agent.

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