From Ponzi schemes and ‘419’ frauds, to duff Italian suits and ‘bulletproof’ powers, the Middle East is no stranger to the (often bizarre) arts of the conman.
February 27, 2010 11:03 by kippreport
According to James Walsh, author of ‘You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man: How Ponzi Schemes and Pyramid Frauds Work’, the online environment has made scammers’ lives easier.
“Information overload has made people confused and vulnerable. Telephones, television, computers and the Internet have shattered the traditional sense of social proportion. People don’t trust their neighbors but believe they have a personal relationship with Oprah Winfrey or Hillary Clinton. This is an encouraging environment for Ponzi perps,” writes Walsh.
The Nigerian “419 frauds” – so named after the section of the Nigerian penal code that deals with cybercrime – are the most famous of internet scams. They usually involve the offer of a
generous commission in return for helping to get large sums of money out of African countries. People who respond are asked to pay a ‘charge’ to enable the large sums to be transferred – but, of course, they never see this money again.
According to a report in The National, more than 30 fictitious UAE names, titles and addresses have been used by email scammers. Such frauds include fake job offers, fictitious lottery wins and concocted claims of unpaid contractors.
Dubai Police report that – in the 14 months up to March 2009 – residents were conned out of $35,390 by SMS and e-mail messages that offered bogus lottery prizes.