Gold Bricking, Grifting, Hustling, Frauds, Cons & Conmen

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
I couldn't find a thread with quite this theme, so I'm starting this one. This story appeared on today's World Wide Words newsletter:

"Back in the 1850s, a gold brick was just that - a brick-shaped
block of gold that had been cast at a mine for easy transport away.
A writer in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in 1888 described a gold
brick cast in Montana as being "a trifle larger than the common
clay brick", but weighing 509 ounces or nearly 32 pounds (roughly
14.5 kg). But as a result of what the newspapers at the time called
"the celebrated gold brick swindle" of October 1879, the term took
on a different meaning.

What happened was that Mr N D Clark, the president of the First
National Bank of Ravenna, Ohio, was visiting a mine he owned at
Leadville in Colorado. He was approached by five miners, who asked
him to advance money on a 52-pound gold brick, which for some
reason they weren't able to ship at the time. The owner told a
hard-luck story about having lost all his property and urgently
needing money. Mr Clark had the brick taken to a blacksmith, who
cut off one corner. An assayer pronounced the gold to be genuine
and Mr Clark advanced the miner $10,000 on condition the brick, and
the miner, accompanied him to Chicago to get the balance. The
miner, of course, vanished off the train on the way; Mr Clark found
to his chagrin that the gold brick was like the curate's egg - good
in parts. The corners were gold right enough but the body of the
brick was worthless. The ringleader, a man named Peter Lavin, was
later caught, though the record is silent on what happened to him.

This wasn't the first attempt at this style of fraud, but since
confidence tricksters aren't that imaginative, a number of copycat
attempts at selling people fake gold bricks followed. The phrase
"to sell someone a gold brick" went into the language meaning to
swindle and "to gold brick" came to mean perpetrating a fraud. (It
killed the old literal sense stone dead; everyone began to call
them ingots instead.)

Your sense was originally US Army slang, which clearly grew out of
this. In the early 1900s, "gold brick" was used for an unattractive
young woman (in 1903, midshipmen went on record that a "gold brick"
was a girl who could neither talk, dance, nor look pretty). This is
presumably from the idea of a gold brick being a fraud. Incompetent
officers appointed from civilian life at the start of the First
World War with only minimal training were likewise called gold
bricks by enlisted men.

At some point during that War, the term was extended to refer to
anybody not pulling his weight, a malingerer or loafer. This would
seem to have grown up not so much from the idea of a person being a
fraud (though that presumably contributed) but from that of a
criminal who would do anything, including sell fake gold bricks,
rather than do an honest day's work."

Any more good fraud stories out there?
 

TulipTree

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Sep 23, 2003
Messages
439
Reaction score
9
Points
49
I was surprised by the origin of the term "Confidence Man". I had always imagined that it had it's origin in sophisticated swindles. It was actually first used to describe a petty thief named William Thompson who used the phrase:

“have you confidence in me to trust me with your watch until to-morrow;”

So much for my fantasies of suave men, heiresses and family vaults.
 

dreeness

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Dec 8, 2004
Messages
982
Reaction score
19
Points
34
There is the scam described by Edgar Allan Poe as "salt and batter". Basically the trickster approaches someone in a public venue, and abruptly and bizarrely insults them so grossly that they reflexively lash out, "assault and batter". Then the mark gets sued, and the truth sounds so outlandish that he ends up paying a huge settlement.
 

ogopogo3

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Oct 25, 2001
Messages
1,374
Reaction score
22
Points
69
Here's a good one, from The Everything Tall Tales, Legends & Outrageous Lies Book by Nat Segaloff:

The Pedigreed Pooch

All good cons presume a high level of venality on the part of their victim, but the pedigreed pooch swindle is one that has a special place in the hearts of animal lovers. This one was performed by two of the most skillful con artists of all time: Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil and Fred Buckminster.

Here's how it went: Weil struts into a barroom leading a well-groomed dog (this was in the days when dogs and cigars were allowed into eating and drinking establishments). He chats up the bartender and announces that he is killing time before "the most important business meeting of my life." Unfortunately, he can't bring his beloved pet. Weil whips out pedigree papers attesting to the value of the dog, and offers the bartender a fast $10 if he watches the animal for an hour. Of course, the bartender agrees, and Weil leaves for his crucial meeting.

Not 10 minutes later, Fred Buckminster enters the bar. His eye is immediately caught by the dog, and he excitedly asks the bartender, "Do you know how valuable this animal is? Why, I'll pay you a hundred dollars for it right this instant!"

The bartender, of course, refuses.

"I'll make it two hundred," Buckminster enthuses.

Hanging onto whatever vestige of honesty he has, the bartender says, "But it isn't mine to sell."

"Nonsense," counters Buckminster. "I'll make it three hundred if you can persuade the owner to sell it." He hands the bartender a $50 bill, adding, "Here's a down payment. I'm in room 315 at the Plaza Hotel. Call me when you've made the deal." Then he leaves.

After the bartender stews for 45 minutes, Weil returns looking utterly crushed. "I'm ruined," he confesses. "My business meeting was a complete washout. I have no money."

At this point the bartender's wheels start turning and he says, "Let me help you out." I'll pay you a hundred bucks for your dog."

"Oh, I could never get rid of my beloved pup," Weil says, near tears.

"I'll make it two hundred," the bartender offers, secretly computing that he already has $60 ($10 from Weil and $50 from Buckminster, who had promised to pay him an additional $250 upon delivery). So, after paying the $200, he will still clear an easy $90.

"Well," says Weil, "Okay."

The bartender hands Weil $200 for the dog and heads over to the Plaza to complete the transaction. Naturally, there is no Buckminster staying there, and the bartender finds himself the owner of a stray mutt that has cost him $140.

Weil and Buckminster, meanwhile, cleared $140 on an outlay of $60. Since they were effortlessly pulling the pedigreed pooch scam on 10 bartenders per afternoon, they had no trouble raising a fair-size bankroll before word got around.
 

Zeph_

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Oct 1, 2005
Messages
74
Reaction score
2
Points
24
I used to work in retail and saw all sorts of scams over the years. The funniest one was when I got a call from one of the girls on the till to come over, I was in the back-shop at the time cashing up a till.

As I went over to the till I noticed a middle-aged gentleman stood there with about 5 boxes of 1.5 kg washing powder. Now to take a deep breath, the man explained that his relatives from New Zealand had been in the previous day and purchased these 5 boxes of washing powder. They had tried to take them back to New Zealand on the aeroplane but were stopped at customs and ordered to leave the boxes of powder behind as they were deemed to be "hazardous substances". Our friend here was merely being a good relative and trying to get a refund on the boxes of powder, about £15.

Needless to say I could not keep a straight face. I asked him if he had a receipt. Non was forthcoming, "but honest guv I'm just trying to do these people a favour!"

I told him I would have to go and talk to "the manager", in fact I was the manager, but Mr.Confidence-trickster did not know that. So into the back-shop I went, and to be honest this is the best way to deal with these people. Once you have ascertained that they are not a violent threat, just leave them standing there telling them you must seek counsel with a higher authority. It makes them nervous as hell, they think you are phoning the police and they usually scarper. Which true to form our friend did, leaving the 5 boxes of powder behind at the till.

But where did he get the 5 boxes of powder from in the first place I hear you call? Well I had been notified of this kind of scam before, and on a hunch rewound the CCTV tape 15 minutes and watched the footage that was trained on the washing powder aisle, and there he was our friend the Con-Man. As brazen as a hussy, he picked up 5 boxes of powder from the shelf and walked around the shop to make it look to the young girl on the till, like he had just walked through the front door. He then made his attempt to butter up the "mark", until I thwarted his dastardly plans.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Thanks for that story, Zeph.

I've just emailed it to my work colleagues at ROCS!
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Another one from World Wide Words:
BLACK DOLLARS This term usually refers to money belonging to black Americans, but another sense turned up this week in reports of a
London libel case.

Black dollars are black pieces of paper. In parts of Africa and India some people believe that if these are dipped in the appropriate chemicals, they turn into real US dollar bills. Fraudsters have reportedly sold paper dyed black to gullible businessmen. The scam reported this week added another level of confusion by alleging that red mercury was needed to make the change. This would be difficult, as red mercury doesn't exist. It
was supposedly a powerful explosive that could be used to make
fusion bombs; it was invented by the KGB during the Cold War as a
sting for terrorists. If they tried to buy it they were arrested.
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
30,111
Reaction score
33,380
Points
309
Location
HM The Tower of London
At a car boot sale here recently, a trader was shown two lovely laptops, in cases with all the accessories. He managed to haggle the two Polish sellers down to £700 for both, and rushed off to the bank.

You can see where this is going, can't you... :roll:

On his return, the money and laptop cases were exchanged with much handshaking and backslapping, and the sellers were waved on their way.

Whereupon the trader opened his laptop cases to find a curiously lo-tech mixture of potatoes and gravel.

I heard some of the pre-sale discussion, and thought, hmmm, that sounds like a risky purchase! But I didn't try to intervene - fat lip, no thank you sir.
 

JamesWhitehead

Piffle Prospector
Joined
Aug 2, 2001
Messages
13,134
Reaction score
11,655
Points
309
Look out for a large-format book called Hoaxes & Scams by Carl Sifakis. He gives dozens of these cons. The trick of leaving a supposedly very valuable item as surety for a substantial cash loan takes many forms. One rather complex variation was the Rosary Game, supposedly a trick played on American Catholics in Europe.

There was also the dodgy-dealing where a cash-transaction was interrupted by a pretend-murder so that the "mark" was grateful to escape from the scene merely fleeced. This one features in the film The Grifters, which covers a lot of scams.

While some of the tricks in the Sifakis book contain chapter and verse on who pulled them off, others seem to be too elaborate to succeed. Almost any battle-plan seldom remains unmodified after the first encounter with the enemy!

These days, I think the Grifters have all migrated into cyberspace where from servers in Holland or Nigeria they want our bank details to pay us our lottery-winnings. I've had a few of them in the last month or so. But of course mine was a genuine win and the money should be here soon!

:?
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Police team-ups beat Nigeria's scammers

As part of BBC World Service's series on Intercontinental Cops, Jenny Chryss explores how investigators from London and Lagos have linked up to combat corruption and fraud in Nigeria.
Globally, Nigeria has become associated with what is known as "advance fee" or 419 fraud.

Virtually anyone with an email account will be familiar with this crime, which involves sending emails or faxes to potential victims around the world, sucking them into a highly attractive but utterly false financial deal.

Back in Nigeria, the rewards are potentially highly lucrative - but now, owing to a crackdown and much-improved co-operation between police forces globally, it has become more risky for the perpetrators.

"Historically we've always had a problem getting evidence from Nigeria, but that's changing," says Detective Sergeant Mark Radford, head of the Africa desk at New Scotland Yard.

"They're keen to co-operate and bring a lot of the criminals in Nigeria to justice."

Black money

At the holding cells in the centre of the country's commercial capital, Lagos, more than 50 suspects are waiting for court appearances on 419 charges. It is a busy place.

Recently Nigeria has, for the first time ever, begun a major crackdown on all sorts of economic crime - and it is needed.


Last year it was ranked the sixth most corrupt country in the world - and that was its best rating ever. :shock:

Now, though, internet service providers who allow online fraudsters to operate will face criminal charges, while decades in jail await the scammers themselves - with little chance of early parole.

Still, with rich pickings still to exploit, Nigeria's criminals will not give in easily.

As well as the most well-known scams, others are now coming into vogue. In one - the so-called "black money" scam - people are shown what appear to be bank notes which have been dyed.

The scammer appears to show how to remove the dye, and sells the "notes" for cash. In fact, the notes are worthless waste paper.

To give credence to their operations, the warehouses and hotels Nigerians use as meeting places are usually in European cities, with London being a favourite.

Olaolu Adegbite, head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's Advance Fee Fraud section in Lagos, said one man from the US had ended up paying $2.1m after been conned in this way.

"The gentleman got convinced when he arrived in the UK and the men were well-dressed, some black, some white, and looked responsible," he said.

"He was convinced, he was carried away."

In this case the fraudster was eventually caught in Nigeria and sentenced to 342 years in jail. He must also repay the $2.1m in full.

State corruption

But there is a long way to go. Allegations of corruption go to the very highest level.

London detective Peter Clark has been trailing one Nigerian state governor, suspected of corruption in Nigeria and money-laundering in London, since January 2004.

Only when he began delving into what initially was a credit card fraud case that he realised how significant it might prove to be, when it became apparent that millions of pounds had been secretly moved from Nigeria into London banks.

For years, widespread corruption has been blamed for many of Nigeria's ills. Schools, hospitals and public services are falling far short of what could be expected of a country that is oil-rich and, in many areas, highly fertile.

And there now growing evidence that the people living in Nigeria's poor Central Plateau state are worse off even than they should be, because, it is alleged, the governor has siphoned off millions of pounds from the public purse.

Specifically, it is claimed he redirected at least £6m meant for environmental improvements into his own bank accounts.

"Every so often states make a bid to the federal government for extra works within their state - and what we've been able to find out is that as a result of cheques being issued for that work, the state governor basically steals that cheque," detective Clark said.

"We've identified that portions of that cheque have found their way into London bank accounts."

However, the governor of Central Plateau continues to rule because the assembly here has elected to keep him in office, where he has immunity from prosecution.

Although he declined to be interviewed by the BBC, the speaker of the assembly, Simon Lalong, told us the money allocated to the central plateau had been properly spent.

"We invited the EFCC to come and prove the allegations - because what we had at first was just paper telling us this is the bundle of allegations against his Excellency, including the jumping of bail," he said.

"They wrote and said this is the allegation, but we said, 'what are the facts?'"

In Nigeria it is being reported that 24 of the country's 36 state governors are now under investigation.

Allowing these men to go free is not an option for the EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu.

"If this country is going to change, if anything is going to work, we have to fight corruption, we have to establish rule of law and order," he says.

"We cannot do it alone, because we are fighting the power, the authority, those with the money, and we need those who are good, who understands the need of such things to stand by us."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5245742.stm
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Shoppers deceived in free-range egg scandal
By Valerie Elliott and Nicola Woolcock

CUSTOMERS across Britain have been sold millions of eggs passed off as free-range when they were produced in factory farms on the Continent, The Times has learnt.

A criminal inquiry is under way into how one firm alone might have been selling millions of eggs a year to High Street retailers who had no idea that they were part of a sophisticated scam.

Shoppers are believed to have been duped into paying double the price for free-range to avoid eggs from birds housed in battery cages. Many imported factory-farm eggs contain salmonella.

Police inquiries are centred on a business in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where it is alleged that millions of cheap eggs were imported from France and Italy and repackaged and labelled as free-range. They were bought by wholesalers at free-range prices. The farm had its own free-range chickens and also imported genuine free-range eggs.

The egg industry fears that a prolonged investigation into the alleged fraud could blight the £220 million-a-year free-range market, which accounts for 35 per cent of the five billion eggs sold each year.

The business under investigation was selling around 360,000 eggs a week through Dean’s Food, the country’s biggest supplier. Dean’s supplies more than half the 1.75 billion free-range eggs sold in own-brand boxes to Tesco, Sainsbury’s Asda and Morrisons.

Retailers were last night urged to check immediately that none of their stock was being sold under the wrong label. The scale of the alleged fraud is unclear but the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) called in the British Egg Industry Council and leading supermarkets this week for a dressing-down.

Industry sources said that a whistleblower had tipped off Defra about alleged irregularities at the company. Imported eggs were allegedly stamped with bona-fide egg producer numbers.

John Widdowson, of the British Free Range Producers Association, said: “We are all absolutely outraged if this cheating has been going on and if proven we would support a high-profile prosecution.”

The British Retail Consortium said: “This practice is fraud, a deliberate attempt by rogue egg suppliers to mislead consumers and we fully support the immediate action that Defra has taken.”


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0, ... 29,00.html
All right, I'll start: eggs-traordinary!
 

Mr_Seaweedski

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 25, 2002
Messages
173
Reaction score
4
Points
49
My thoughts eggsactly!!!

A scam tried on me at an off liscence:
Miscreant buys gum with a £20 note, when you give him/her the change, they find enough change to pay for item in another pocket and ask for the note to be returned to them as they don't want a pocket full of change. They then proceed to swap money in a way that is meant to confuse you, and you end up returning their £20 while they have pocketed the other tenner. Can't remember the exact sequence, but it really was quite obvious. The guy attempting it seemed genuinely miffed as i slowly explained that he still had a tenner so I wouldn't be able to give him the twenty too!!!! This scam must work well as the guy turned up each Sept when you had a new batch of student employees to fool. Me serving him and making sure he knew I remembered him (staring into his beady eyes and smiling inanely did the trick) put a stop to his visits. :D
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,680
Reaction score
6,190
Points
309
There's a fairly trashy 15-minute program on BBC3 at the moment called 'the real hustle', where they pull off various very audacious scams on unwitting members of the public (and then get their consent to show the footage for "educational purposes"). Can't remember any of the specifics but some of them were really amazing.
 

OneWingedBird

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Messages
15,654
Reaction score
6,957
Points
284
Here's a good one, from The Everything Tall Tales, Legends & Outrageous Lies Book by Nat Segaloff:
that one get's used in Neil Gaiman's American Gods, only using an 'antique fiddle' rather than a doggie...
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
FILLING HIS BOOTS
TV dentist jailed for £450k fraud
By Lucy Thornton

A DENTIST who won £64,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was yesterday jailed for four years for a record NHS fraud.

David Heppleston claimed £450,000 over eight-and-a-half years for work on "ghost" patients and fictitious treatment on real clients.

He used the cash to prop up a bar business, pay debts and buy a bigger house, York crown court heard.

Judge Paul Hoffman said of his deception: "It was sophisticated. It was blatant. It was motivated by greed and nothing has been recovered."

Heppleston's wife had died leaving him to raise his son. The judge said he felt for his "wretched" situation but added professionals must be "scrupulously honest". Suspicions surfaced after Heppleston, 45, who ran a surgery in Scarborough, claimed to have fitted a huge number of crowns.

Heppleston, who collected his £64,000 cheque from ITV host Chris Tarrant in 2002, had earlier admitted 15 deception charges.

In early 2004, hundreds queued in Scarborough to register with a new NHS dentist with an estimated 17,000 people in the resort needing one.

When he shut his practice in June Heppleston had 5,000 patients, none of whom are thought to have a dentist.
http://tinyurl.com/yze3vl
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
The faked will that gave 'amoral' daughter £18m
Clare Dyer, legal editor
Friday February 16, 2007
The Guardian

Stephen Supple could be forgiven for expecting his father, Leonard, to have been a little more generous in his will - and for feeling a twinge of envy at his half-sister's inheritance. He had, after all, been left £100 a year, while Lynda Supple had done a little better, inheriting their father's £18m estate, including his 60-acre farm in Kent.
Mr Supple challenged the will, which was made a few months before his father died, in the high court. And his suspicions paid off yesterday when a judge ruled the will had been forged, clearing the way for a police investigation.

Yesterday, the deputy high court judge, Peter Leaver QC, declared the will invalid and ruled that Mr Supple had died intestate, meaning the estate will be divided equally between his two children.
Although the judge made no findings about who had forged the will, he branded Ms Supple a "cunning, amoral, selfish and vindictive woman", and ordered that a copy of his judgment be sent to the director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald.

A short time after Mr Supple Sr died aged 77, a document surfaced which purported to be his last will and testament, the judge said. But he concluded that Leonard Supple's signatures were forgeries because they did not match earlier examples.

The judge had been told that Stephen Supple, a former amateur jockey and a qualified barrister, had a "perfectly normal relationship" with his father.

But he was told that Ms Supple had volatile dealings with her father, and was both "physically and verbally aggressive" towards him and his partner, Maria Nicholls, who died shortly after him.

Stephen Supple is the son of his father's first wife, Patricia, whom he divorced in 1955. Ms Supple was born after her father had a short affair with her mother, Margaret Milne. She lived with her mother until she was 10, when she moved to her father's farm.

The judge said the evidence he heard revealed Leonard Supple had been a domineering man who demanded "absolute obedience" from those around him. One witness said he was a tyrant who flew into a rage if he did not get what he wanted.

The judge also noted that the siblings' behaviour towards each other was "a cause of difficult family relationships". He added: "Lynda was totally dominated by Leonard and had no option but to obey his every wish and will. Such blind obedience led her into improper conduct sometimes."

But he said that it became apparent during the hearing that she was also capable of looking after herself both physically and mentally. "Her apparent puzzled demeanour could not mask her substantial natural cunning. In the event, I find her evidence to be unbelievable and untrue in respect of many important matters."

He said Ms Supple had forged Maria's signature to collect her pension after she went into hospital to have a leg amputated. "In modern parlance, this was a dysfunctional family."

On the day of her father's death, Ms Supple signed a cheque in his name after he had a heart attack, failed to phone her half-brother or aunt, and pretended to a family friend that nothing had happened. "She is a cunning, amoral, selfish and vindictive woman whose thoughts were only for herself and who had no interest in the feelings of others," said the judge.

He also criticised the evidence of Robert Pendeno - a man unknown to the father, his family or friends - who was named as executor of the forged will with Ms Supple.

Ms Supple, who was in court, made no comment. Speaking after yesterday's judgment, Stephen Supple, 58, called for a review of the law on probate to shore up public confidence in the procedures for dealing with wills. "I intend to make representations to the appropriate law people, the Law Commission, parliament, to look into reviewing the law of wills and probate, because a case like this undermines the public confidence in the probate procedures," he said.

"It also demonstrates how easy the law is at the moment to perpetrate a fraud like this, and if I hadn't been so persistent, and had the help of family and friends, this would have gone through.

"I've known from day one that there was something going on, the way things have been spoken about, and when I eventually got hold of the document, I had absolutely no doubt whatsoever that it was a forgery."

His counsel, Thomas Dumont, asked the judge for the costs of the case to be taken from Ms Supple's inheritance. A decision is to be made at a later date.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story ... 25,00.html
 

WhistlingJack

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Oct 29, 2003
Messages
3,564
Reaction score
35
Points
69
Conmen

I've previously ascertained that there wasn't a general thread devoted to this topic, so here goes...

English Fraudster Gets 20 Years For US Church Scam

English fraudster gets 20 years for US church scam

Mark Oliver

Saturday July 14, 2007

Guardian Unlimited


British con artist Howard Welsh toured US cities like a modern-day snake oil salesman, targeting Christians with bogus investment plans and scamming his way to some £16m.

But his face ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted website and despite crisscrossing continents while on the run, he was today starting a 20-year stretch in a US jail.

Most of the 900-odd victims of Liverpool-born Welsh, 63, had one thing in common: they fell victim to his callous manipulation of their religious faith.

Welsh and his American girlfriend, Lee Hope Thrasher, 53, were based in the resort city of Virginia Beach, in the east coast state of Virginia, but from 1999 took the con on the road, targeting church networks.

They hosted euphoric, deeply religious three-day seminars in hotels while selling "divinely inspired" investments that promised huge returns while helping poor and disabled children abroad. "Do you have enough faith to see this through for a year?" one of Welsh's fliers asked.

Welsh, who styled himself as an "international businessman" and who had earlier tried less successfully to sell a "magical elixir", took inspiration from the infamous 1920s Chicago conman, Charles Ponzi.

Ponzi's signature scam was devastatingly simple. You attract a few investors and then quickly pay out high returns. This creates a buzz, and attracts more investors. Then you disappear.

Welsh and Thrasher - who was today jailed for 15-years alongside him at the district court in Norfolk, Virginia - disappeared from the Virginia area in the summer of 2002. A year later, prosecutors brought the first charges against them.

At some stage, the pair left the US, having wired millions of dollars to 13 destinations, mainly foreign banks in places including Lebanon, Switzerland, Nigeria, China and France. Investigators believe they spent time in Latin America and Africa, as well as Belgium and other continental European countries.

However, the end of the FBI hunt was not quite the stuff of Hollywood thrillers. Welsh and Thrasher were arrested by the Metropolitan police in November 2004 at a train station in the Shropshire market town of Whitchurch, near his elderly mother Doris's retirement home.

The pair appeared to have hidden or lost the money. US investigators have only recovered around £1.25m. Both were ordered today to pay $33, 543,153 (£16,486,990) in restitution.

It emerged this week that Welsh had told lawyers that he gave $31m to a Nigerian man called Femi Coker, who had claimed to work for the Nigerian Central Bank. Welsh said he met the Nigerian in Accra, Ghana, and that the money is still in a government warehouse and he will be able to get it back if he pays a "release tax", the Virginia Pilot newspaper reported.

Investigators soon established nobody of that name worked at the Nigerian Central Bank. The name Femi Coker features in a number of websites warning about Nigerian advance fee cons, the so-called 419 scams. Letters written by a Mr Coker variously describe him as a "director of the ministry of agriculture" or an official at a Nigerian oil firm.

If Welsh did have the tables turned on him by another con artist his many victims might be forgiven for enjoying the irony.


Less than 5% of investors to Welsh's scams - some of whom were Britons - saw returns and a number were left in financial ruins. One elderly woman from Illinois, who has since died, lost around £4m, thinking she was investing in a new bank called Zialogic, which in reality was no more than a UK post office box.

"This was a massive fraud, stunning in both its length and breadth," said US attorney Chuck Rosenburg. "We are very pleased with their convictions."

After their arrest, the pair spent almost two years in UK prisons while fighting extradition but were finally sent to the US in July last year. The same month, in their first court appearance in the US, they insisted they were innocent and wanted to "get the truth out".

But three months into the trial they changed their pleas. Welsh admitted four counts, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Thrasher pleaded guilty to three similar counts.

Before they changed their pleas, Paul Chandler, a Met officer, told the trial that the couple had rented a flat in Birmingham, for which Welsh had signed the lease with the name "Holmes Golden". There was evidence of other false identities at the flat, including a "James Bond".

The US Internal Revenue Service told the trial that Welsh had been looking at exploring "something with diamonds" in Ghana.

Thrasher, who previously worked as a victim-witness coordinator, met Welsh in 1997 and her father Harold told the Virginia Pilot that she was under the Briton's control and the family had failed to convince her it was all a scam. But perhaps the best illustration of Welsh's dangerous talent as a conman is the length of time that some of the victims retained faith in him. One investor of £60,000, Greg del Ferro, told the local newspaper, even as the trial was underway last July, that he still did not believe it was a con.

"It was about helping other people. That's what Lee Hope and Howard were stressing. By all means they made mistakes, but they are not the types to deceive or take advantage," he said. Mr Del Ferro wondered whether the pair may have had problems after inviting the "wrong people" to invest.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007
Scradje
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Ocean's 11 conman and a royal heist
David Brown

It was one of the most audacious jewel thefts in history. In the middle of a crowded room, the famed Star of the Empress Sisi was stolen from its high-security case and replaced with a replica.

Nine years after the heist, a criminal mastermind has finally revealed how he stole the Austrian royal heirloom while travelling the world carrying out frauds and thefts on the orders of a mysterious British crime boss.

Details of Gerald Blanchard’s years as head of the most sophisticated crime gang in Canadian history has led to prosecutors comparing his activities to the Hollywood movie Ocean’s 11.

The 35-year-old computer expert has already admitted responsibility for stealing the famed Koechert Diamond Pearl, or Star of Empress Sisi, from the Castle Schonbrunn in Vienna, Austria.The jewel-encrusted brooch had been placed on public display in an alarmed case in 1998 to mark the centennial anniversary of the assassination of Elisabeth of Austria.

Posing as a tourist and accompanied by his wife and father-in-law, Blanchard disabled the case’s alarm and replaced the jewel with a replica bought at the castle’s souvenir shop. The swap was not discovered for more than a month and the loss of a priceless part of Austria’s history remained unsolved until Blanchard led police to its hiding place in his grandmother’s basement earlier this year.

Sheila Leinburd, a Crown attorney, told a Canadian court: “Cunning, clever, conniving and creative — add some foreign intrigue and this is the stuff movies are made of.”

Blanchard has admitted 16 charges of theft and fraud after police built up a picture of his activities during a massive investigation involving thousands of intercepted telephone calls and hundreds of hours of video which he had taken during his international travels.

Scotland Yard has now been asked to help trace the London-based criminal known as “The Boss” who co-ordinated many of the scams. Blanchard has told detectives that the man was raising money to fund Kurdish terrorists in northern Iraq.

Blanchard was a master of disguise and used at least eight aliases to travel the world with the help of forged identification documents and by changing his appearance with make-up, spectacles, beards or moustaches and dyed hair. He used his forgery skills to create fake VIP passes and media identification to interview celebrities and attend major sporting events. One week he would interview the singer Christina Aguilera, the next he was in the pits at the Monaco Grand Prix. 8)

His jet-set lifestyle was funded by sophisticated thefts and frauds through what the Canadian authorities have named the “Gerald Blanchard Criminal Organisation”. With his leadership the gang was estimated to make millions of pounds a year. In one scam they targeted newly-built banking centres which contained cash machines from several banks. Using pinhole cameras and listening devices he monitored the construction work before emptying the cash machines of up to C$500,000 (£250,000) the night before their grand openings. :shock: Blanchard was also involved in a massive fraud using details of stolen credit cards to target the accounts of British bank customers in operations across Europe and Africa.

He was finally caught following an operation in November last year when “The Boss” ordered him to fly to Egypt. He was provided with the details of credit cards and PINs of tens of thousands of British bank accounts to create fake credit cards. Gang members wore burkhas while using the cards at cash machines in Cairo, withdrawing up to £500 from each account. When one of the gang disappeared with £25,000, Blanchard was held hostage in London until he could persuade the runaway to return.

Ms Leinburd told The Times: “He is a very charismatic guy and his gang would operate like the guys in Ocean’s 11. But at the same time he knew he was funding terrorism. We have intercepted telephone conversations with The Boss. I don’t think he had any political or religious reasons to support terrorism but saw it as a way to get the information for his operations.”

Blanchard was sentenced to eight years in jail this month but will be eligible for parole in two years. As part of his plea bargaining, he agreed to sell a number of luxury apartments he owns in Vancouver to repay the banks. He has given the banks details of his operations and is in negotiations to work with them on his release from jail.

Associate Chief Justice Jeffrey Oliphant told him: “I think you have a great future if you wish to pursue an honest style of life — although I’m not prepared to sign a reference.” :D

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 943269.ece
 

alucard44

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Nov 19, 2007
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Points
17
Here in Dubai, the ''black dollar'' scam, or a variant is regularly reported in the paper. Last year someone was conned into buying a lamp, which when rubbed....you guessed it, a djinn appeared. currently on remand, we have a Yemeni trader who offered for sale, IN THE NEWSPAPER! a ''magical'' piece of onyx, which would protect the owner from bullets. The asking price was in excess of $1 million. The prosecuter has demanded a demonstration of its powers, we await the outcome with bated breath
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Thinking about holidays...? Beware!

The 13 best travel scams
From Floridian fraudsters to fake Peruvian police, these are the scoundrels out to scam you
Brian Schofield

THE PHONEY FREE TRIP TO FLORIDA

The phone rings and an electronic voice tells you to hit the number 9 to claim your prize, a holiday to the Sunshine State – at which point a salesperson comes on the line and explains that you have, in fact, won only most of a holiday. To seal the deal, you are typically told, it will cost between £500 and £700 for a supposed £2,000 luxury trip, usually to Orlando and the Bahamas.

You’re then asked for your credit-card details, “strictly for verification”, but the full fee is promptly removed from your card without your consent. If you try to get the money back, the delays begin, with calls going unanswered, packages not arriving, and staff often verbally abusing customers. And your credit-card company doesn’t have to refund you – because you read out those numbers.

The Sunday Times knows of dozens of victims of this scam, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been trying to shut down the perpetrators for years – but they’re still at work.

Steering clear: if you’re told you’ve won a competition you never entered, it’s a scam. If you’ve been caught by the Florida fraudsters, go to www.800helpfla.com.

THE CARD MILL

“Become a travel agent! Save 50%-75% on flights and hotels using special travel-agent-only rates. Getting a travel-agent card takes only 15 minutes!”

This internet scam, known as “card milling”, is on the increase. Greedy travellers are told that by spending up to £260 on a travel-agent ID card, they will become eligible for industry-insider rates, meaning huge discounts on flights, hotels and, most commonly, cruises.

You cough up the credit-card details, your ID card arrives – and the first time you slap it down on a reception desk, you’re laughed out of the lobby.

The problem is becoming so widespread that Royal Caribbean Cruises has just announced a crackdown on card-mill chumps – if you flash one of these cards, not only will you not get a discount, you won’t be allowed to book at full rate.

Steering clear: if you really want a career as a travel agent, there’s a jobs page at www.abta.com.

THE FLY-BY-NIGHT

Comfortably the most costly scam in the UK is the oldest one in the book – companies taking travellers’ cash, then shutting down their businesses without delivering what they promised.

Many closures are just business failures – about 25 legitimate travel firms a year go belly up, leaving, on average, 20,000 Britons with trashed holiday plans – but many are dodgy deals. In 2006, an Oxfordshire company called MAS Travel collected more than £1m of British travellers’ cash for heavily discounted flights. But the firm never purchased the tickets from the airlines, and hastily shut up shop – some travellers found out they’d been scammed only at the check-in desk.

Steering clear: ideally, you should purchase holidays only from Atol-bonded operators, whose collapse wouldn’t cost you a penny. But in these independent-minded times, when more of us put together our own holidays, the safety net is to check that your travel insurance covers airline and operator closure – many policies do.

THE HOLLOW INSURANCE

This scam has, with luck, only one year left to run – but, as a 2007 House of Commons report suggested, because it affects 10m UK travellers a year, it’s still a worry. Basically, most travel agents are on commission to sell you insurance alongside your holiday, and for far too many of them, mis-selling is too hard to resist.

A Consumer Association survey in 2006 reported that 81% of customers didn’t have their coverage properly explained to them by their travel agent, 55% weren’t told about their excess payment and 65% weren’t asked about any existing medical complaints that might have left them uncovered.

According to another 2007 survey, by Sainsbury’s Bank, 7% of customers were told a big fat lie by their travel agent – that they had to buy the insurance to get the holiday. The government is so concerned that, from January 2009, travel agents will be regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Steering clear: make it your responsibility – because, legally, the obligation lies with you – to ensure that the agent knows about any medical conditions and precisely what your trip will entail. And remember that it is your right to shop around.

AWAY

THE FAKE RECEPTIONIST

If you’re a scam artist, the modern-day jackpot is spending some time alone with a traveller’s credit-card details before they realise anything is up. Common, and almost unstoppable, tricks include capturing all the details when you hand the card over for a meal or some petrol – but one ingenious new tactic, first reported in Shanghai, has been to call hotel rooms late at night, pretending to be from reception.

“We’re trying to process your bill, sir, but the card details seem to be wrong. Could you just bring the card down to the desk?” “But it’s two in the morning!” “Okay, just read the numbers out down the phone...”

Steering clear: take great care who gets your numbers and handles your card out of your sight. Realistically, your best defence is last-ditch – checking your credit-card statement carefully after every foreign trip. You should be refunded any money that has been taken illegally.

THE SECRET CONVERSION

There’s a more minor, but also more irritating, way you can be diddled when you hand over your card overseas. Whenever you pay by card, you should be given the choice of stumping up in sterling or in the local currency – and the sensible choice is the latter, allowing your bank to convert the sum to sterling later on.

But many shops, hotels and restaurants have other ideas, and convert your bill into sterling without asking you, using their own brazenly uncompetitive conversion rates. To add insult to injury, they stick on an exchange commission of up to 4%. Cheeky.

Steering clear: it’s a good golden rule to use the credit card only for larger purchases from established vendors, then remember to tell them you want to pay in their home currency.

THE PRETEND POLICEMEN

It’s a classic scam, because it works. The well-spoken young backpacker who told me this cautionary tale has, perhaps wisely, opted for anonymity: “I was hanging out in Cuzco, Peru, when I met a local guy, and we became friends. He showed me some of the ruins, we had a few beers, then, one night, he said, ‘You are my friend, you are kind to me. I want to give you a present.’ And he gives me a fistful of marijuana.

About an hour later, I was walking back to my hostel. Two men were waiting outside the front gate. They told me they were policemen and asked me to empty my pockets. When they found the dope, they told me I’d spend four years in prison for dealing drugs... unless I paid them $200 to forget everything. Panicking in a dark street, I paid up there and then – and never saw my ‘friend’ again.”

Steering clear: don’t do drugs. In general terms, if you get yourself into a similarly sticky situation, remember that your safety is the priority. Try calmly to make the issue public, getting other people involved, preferably the real police – although if you’ve got a pocketful of hash, that’s going to be tricky. If you’re alone, consider coughing up.

THE SHONKY EXCHANGE BOOTH

There are so many scams involving exchange booths, it’s, fittingly, hard to keep count. There will always be occasions when you need to change cash but there’s no bank about, so more informal converters come into play. Most are perfectly legitimate, but signs that all is not well include: the teller shuffling and counting out bills in absurdly small denominations, which makes keeping score a chore; a disturbance or argument that conveniently flares up just as you’re trying to count your cash; and anything involving opaque envelopes, which will probably turn out to contain newspaper clippings.

Steering clear: always change money in a pair, so one of you can concentrate while the other fends off any distractions. Get a receipt, and choose fixed premises, not a bunco booth or a bloke with a briefcase, so you’ll have somewhere to take the police if you do get short-changed.

THE DODGY DRINKING BUDDY

Many of us have been caught in the “nice” version of this scam – a friendly stranger takes you drinking in a foreign land, pays a fraction of what it’s costing you for the same round of drinks, then takes a backhander from the bar-owner at closing time for hauling your well-fleeced backsides into the establishment. No big deal.

But a nasty version has, travellers’ websites suggest, taken root in the newly fashionable slacker beach resorts of Venezuela. This time, your pretend buddy slips you a jungle version of Rohypnol, known as burundanga. This generates about three hours of stumbling incapacity, during which time you are roundly robbed.

The Foreign Office reports that burundanga is also being used in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, to sedate travellers by touch, using laced pamphlets and flyers. But booze is the most common delivery system – because who spots a drooling backpacker? Unsurprisingly, Thailand is also becoming a drink-doping hot spot.

Steering clear: with the “nice” scam, it’s probably best to relax – frankly, if everyone knows what’s happening, what’s the harm? To avoid getting burundangaed, watch your own drink in a bar, favour bottled products and always think carefully about going clubbing before you fly solo.

THE UNLICENSED TAXI

You’re tired, there’s a queue at the taxi rank, so you accept the cheery offer of an unofficial taxi. From this point on, a good outcome is that you’ll be overcharged, or forced to stop off at the driver’s brother’s souvenir shop on the way to your hotel.

The bad outcome is unthinkably bad. In 2006, an Austrian couple on a round-the-world trip got into a fake taxi at the bus terminal in La Paz, Bolivia – and were kidnapped. Their bank cards and Pin numbers were taken and they were held captive for five days, while their bank accounts were emptied. They were then killed.

Steering clear: never get in unofficial taxis – full stop. And, sadly, it seems the old traveller’s tradition of sharing taxis to save money is no longer safe – the poor Austrian couple, and the others who have escaped similar ordeals (chiefly in South America), were partly undone by gang members posing as travellers and getting into their taxi. Only share rides with those you trust, and never permit the driver to pick up another passenger.

THE SHOESHINERS OF ISTANBUL

Some scams are much more harmless. The many young men who scratch a living shoeshining in Istanbul have an elegant moneymaking trick. They’ve developed the art of inadvertently dropping their brush behind them in the street, in a holidaymaker’s path.

You pick it up and take it to them, and they thank you effusively for saving the vital tool of their trade – it’ll probably turn out to be their grandfather’s shoe brush. To say thanks, they offer you a free shine, and, as your toes are buffed, you’ll hear a long hard-luck story, designed to loosen the stiffest wallet.

Steering clear: Why steer clear? If your shoes need polishing, accept the offer, enjoy the story and pay the man. Once your leather’s nice and shiny, you’ll be left well alone.

THE METAL-DETECTOR SHUFFLE

A clever one, this – you put your belongings on the conveyor belt, but a man bustles past you in a desperate hurry. He then gets himself held up at the detector, emptying his pockets of innumerable coins, keys and collectables. While you wait patiently, the guy who was in the queue in front of you – Mr Metal’s accomplice – waits for your bag, then nicks it.

US airports, where security chaos and wealthy travellers collide, seem most blighted by this – in 1997, a Texan oil baroness passing through Newark airport was diddled out of her handbag, which contained jewellery worth more than £300,000.

Steering clear: watch your stuff, stand your ground – and, in general, think twice about using your luggage to advertise your wealth.

AND FINALLY

THE BUS SCAM SCAM

Finally, an answer to the question: “How stupid can people be?” According to insurance-industry reports, this stunt has reeled in gullible travellers across the USA and Canada. It goes like this – you are approached by someone in a bar who guarantees you thousands of dollars if you join in a scam by getting on a bus that they will rear-end somewhere along its route.

Most of the passengers, you are promised, will be in on the fraud, and will all protest that it was the driver’s fault, while rubbing their hips and necks. And the bus company will start handing out cash and liability-waiver forms immediately. To get a piece of the action, all you have to do is pay your new friend a $250 fixer’s fee and get on the assigned bus.

Next day, you get on the bus, winking at all your fellow passengers, and, as the journey passes without incident, you slowly realise that you are an incurable chump.

http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/lif ... 287518.ece
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
The great British share swindle
By Terry Messenger
BBC Money Programme

Britain's 10 million small shareholders are being systematically targeted by an international criminal network of fake investment firms who have conned them out of millions of pounds.

When Dr John Ashley got a letter from Spain offering him free advice on his savings, he thought it wouldn't do any harm to say yes.

How wrong he was. Eighteen months later and £60,000 poorer, Dr Ashley rued the day he listened to Madrid-based investment firm Benjamin Fisher.

He is one of Britain's 10 million small shareholders who are being systematically targeted by an international criminal network of fake investment firms.

The scam investment firms, known as "boiler rooms", have fleeced ordinary British savers out of hundreds of millions of pounds in a massive swindle which may add up to the UK's biggest theft.

The Money Programme looked at three examples that have left ordinary investors out of pocket.

Dr Ashley, from Cheshire, ended up buying £60,000 of shares through Benjamin Fisher - which crashed in value and proved to be unsaleable at any price.

He was devastated. He says, "If I could have given my two kids 30 grand off their mortgage, I'm sure they'd be absolutely delighted. That would be a lot more pleasant than looking at a big hole in my bank account."

Benjamin Fisher hooked Dr Ashley by offering him a free report on a legitimate company in which he owned shares.

He returned a form requesting the report, giving Benjamin Fisher his phone number and consenting to being contacted with further information.

The next he knew, a friendly and insistent salesman was on the phone offering him shares in a mining company, supposedly with great prospects. He was tempted and invested a small sum.

The share price rose and he bought more and more from Benjamin Fisher of what are known as Regulation S shares, believing he was on to a winner.

What he did not realise was that Regulation S shares are almost impossible to sell on. And to make things even worse, the share price crashed, leaving his investment of £60,000 with a value of £5,000.

Dr Ashley is far from alone. The scam has been going for decades, starting in the US.

Boiler rooms first sprang up in pre-war New York where, according to the legend, mobsters rented boiler rooms in Wall Street offices, because that was all they could afford.

But lately, the FBI has cracked down in America, so the "boiler room" companies have turned their attention to Britain.

The City of London Police has set up Operation Archway, headed by DCI Bob Wishart, to tackle the growing threat to the UK.

DCI Wishart says: "We did a conservative estimate based on what victims have reported to us, where we believed in excess of $100m had been lost. We actually believe that figure could be far higher, potentially $400m, $500m."

Glitzy offices

The second case examined by the Money Programme concerned Pacific Continental Securities, an investment company based in the City of London.

Pacific Continental has links through intermediary companies with the firm that scammed Dr Ashley. And it has many of the characteristics of a boiler room.

Simon Mitchell from Sussex lost £45,000 on Regulation S shares bought through Pacific Continental. He fell for the bait during a visit to the firm's impressive seventh floor offices in a glitzy tower block near St Paul's.

"The place was buzzing. Every terminal was manned," he says. "There were people standing up doing the buy-buy-buy, sell-sell scenario.

"And I thought to myself, Simon, you're looking to build a relationship with a financial broker who's going to help you make good money."

But for Simon and many others, it all proved to be a facade.

Stephen Alexander is a lawyer who is helping people who lost money through Pacific Continental and has calculated the scale of the problem.

He says: "We've had in over 2,500 written complaints regarding the sales practices and the mis-selling carried out by Pacific Continental. The losses, potentially, are running into hundreds of millions of pounds."

The owner of Pacific Continental denied his company had done anything improper and claimed that the UK financial regulator, the Financial Services Authority, was aware of the firm's business practices and raised no objection.

Nondescript HQ

The third case examined by the Money Programme involved a company called Newbridge International, based in Barcelona.

Bob Walker from Darlington bought about £5,000 of Regulation S shares in a life sciences firm recommended by Newbridge International. He bought half from Newbridge and half direct from the life sciences company. They too proved unsaleable.

Although its website gives the impression it is based in a glitzy skyscraper, the only address it gives out is for a PO box number.

The Money Programme eventually tracked the operation down to a nondescript building in Barcelona.

Newbridge insisted it warned investors that its investments would be high-risk and that the shares they sold were Regulation S.

But investor Bob Walker said he received written warnings only after he had paid for his shares.

DCI Bob Wishart had this warning for investors about boiler rooms: "Their incentive is purely down to extracting as much money as they can from every individual they can, and moving on."

And Jonathan Phelan of the Financial Services Authority says: "If every consumer was willing to hang up the phone and recognise what a boiler room was, then the menace of boiler rooms would be dead and gone for ever."

When it comes to fantastic sounding investment schemes, it seems that the old adage is as true as ever: if something appears to be too good to be true, then it probably is.


City of London Police is responsible for co-ordinating Operation Archway, the national intelligence reporting system for boiler room fraud. If you think you have been a victim of this type of fraud, visit the City of London Police website at: www.cityoflondon.police.uk

The Money Programme: The Great British Shares Swindle, BBC2 at 1900 on Friday, 21 March.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7306363.stm
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,680
Reaction score
6,190
Points
309
rynner said:
THE DODGY DRINKING BUDDY

But a nasty version has, travellers’ websites suggest, taken root in the newly fashionable slacker beach resorts of Venezuela. This time, your pretend buddy slips you a jungle version of Rohypnol, known as burundanga. This generates about three hours of stumbling incapacity, during which time you are roundly robbed.

The Foreign Office reports that burundanga is also being used in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, to sedate travellers by touch, using laced pamphlets and flyers. But booze is the most common delivery system – because who spots a drooling backpacker? Unsurprisingly, Thailand is also becoming a drink-doping hot spot.
Interesting from a UL point of view?
Are there actually any drugs which can be transmitted by touch?
 

markbellis

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Messages
531
Reaction score
14
Points
34
H_James said:
Interesting from a UL point of view?
Are there actually any drugs which can be transmitted by touch?
Sure, but they're nerve gas agents - I think it's highly unlikely that a street criminal is going to be able to synthesize it, keep themselves from being exposed while handing it out in the street - (I think you'd notice somebody wearing rubber gloves while trying to hand out flyers ) - and then follow their victims around until it took effect especially when they could just knock them on the head or pull a knife and demand the goods.

It does sound like the FO is taking an urban legend seriously:

Do not accept pamphlets in the street or major shopping centres, as there have been incidents of these having been impregnated with potent and disorienting drugs, which permeate the skin. Tourists’ drinks have also been spiked.
It's more likely tourists get disoriented from the heat and too much booze, get robbed by opportunists and blame something else.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Couple made up 16 children in benefit fraud
Steven Morris The Guardian, Friday April 11 2008

A man who claimed more than £75,000 in benefits by inventing 16 children who did not exist to fund his gambling addiction was jailed for 20 months yesterday.

David Wilshaw, 58, and partner Nancy Stevenson, 59, fabricated a huge family to milk the system for four years. The fraud began when Wilshaw applied for tax credits for two of Stevenson's children who did exist and nobody asked to see birth certificates or other proof. He went on to make up the names of 16 children and pocketed more than £400 a week for them between 2003 and 2007.

Bristol crown court heard Wilshaw spent up to £600 a week in betting shops and Stevenson drank at least two bottles of brandy a day. :shock:

Wilshaw, who masterminded the scheme, was sentenced to 20 months in prison after admitting 42 charges of fraud, two charges of handling stolen goods and obtaining property by deception.

Stevenson avoided jail because she had played a "lesser role" and Wilshaw had transferred just £9,000 of the money into her account. She admitted one charge of money laundering and a further charge of tax credit fraud and was given a 12-month supervised community order.

The court heard that Wilshaw would claim he was adopting or fostering the 16 children - despite living in a one bedroom flat. 8) The couple were arrested in March after 12 Inland Revenue investigators swooped on their home in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Wilshaw, who had 85 previous convictions for fraud, said after his arrest in March: "I'm doing a public service by identifying this massive loophole." :roll:
He will appear in court again next month for a confiscation hearing.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/apr/11/ukcrime1
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Jobless lorry driver 'sold' The Ritz hotel to businessman in £250million con
By BETH HALE
Last updated at 09:35am on 18th April 2008

When businessman Terry Collins was offered the chance to buy the Ritz Hotel for a knockdown price of £250million it was an opportunity that sounded too good to be true.

And it was indeed too good to be true. The hotel, with an estimated market value of around £600million, was not on the market.

Yet two conmen managed to persuade Mr Collins, co-founder of a large and reputable property company, that the hotel's owners, the Barclay brothers, were prepared to sell it at a bargain price.

Anthony Lee and Patrick Dolan convinced an intermediary that they represented the Barclays and even had a team of lawyers on board to give the plan respectability.

Negotiations went on for months and eventually Mr Collins, of London Allied Holdings, borrowed £1million from Dutch businessman and financier Marcel Boekhoorn to pay Lee a deposit in December 2006 for the release of 27 boxes of purchase documentation held by his solicitors.

But the papers did not exist and the Barclays were oblivious of the ruse.

Lee turned out to be an unemployed lorry driver and bankrupt with no connections whatsoever to the brothers. Dolan, too, was unemployed.

The elaborate fraud emerged yesterday in a judgment handed down at the High Court in London as the two victims of the fraud battled over the £ 1million which was immediately spent by Lee and Dolan.

Lee, 47, bought a £55,000 Land Rover as a Christmas present for his girlfriend Jennifer Hodgson, then took her on a luxury cruise.

He sent £59,000 to his creditors and paid rent arrears on his Yorkshire bungalow.

Dolan, 66, bought a Mercedes for £43,000 and splashed out on a lavish day at Cheltenham races, where he bet and lost heavily.

He paid off the £30,000 mortgage on his house in Barnet, North London, and paid £293,410 to his wife.

In yesterday's judgment, Mr Justice Henderson said: "The Barclay brothers were known by Mr Collins to have the reputation of being extremely secretive in the conduct of their business affairs, and it did not strike him as implausible that they would wish to structure a transaction of this sort through an intermediary such as Mr Lee."

For five months Mr Collins was engaged in extensive and detailed negotiations with Lee and his solicitor.

To clinch the deal Lee convinced Mr Collins that another buyer was on the scene.

It was at that point that Mr Collins contacted Mr Boekhoorn, of a firm called Apvodedo, and outlined the opportunity. An agreement was reached.

The judge continued: "Readers of this judgment will perhaps have guessed by now that Mr Collins and London Allied Holdings (and indirectly Apvodedo and Mr Boekhoorn) were the victims of an elaborate fraud.

"Mr Lee and Mr Dolan were not currently involved in the property business, nor were they authorised in any way to act as intermediaries on behalf of the Barclay brothers.

"Mr Lee was an unemployed HGV driver and was an undischarged bankrupt throughout his dealings with LAH.

"Mr Dolan was a former contracts manager for a construction company-who had also been unemployed since 2000."

Mr Collins sued the pair as soon as he realised he would not receive the documents or a refund, and a High Court judge agreed an order allowing the tracing of funds.

Originally, Apvodedo helped LAH in its efforts to recover the money, but in October 2007 issued a claim for £1million against Mr Collins and LAH.

Mr Collins says he is not liable for the money because both he and Mr Boekhoorn believed the deal was genuine.

Mr Justice Henderson dismissed Mr Boekhoorn's application for an immediate ruling over the money and said the case needed to go to full trial.

North Yorkshire Police said an inquiry was continuing, although no arrests have been made.

Mr Collins said it was the legal element of the deal that had been so convincing.

"If the lawyers hadn't been there we would have laughed in their faces," he said. "We are still very angry."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/a ... ge_id=1770
 

OneWingedBird

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Messages
15,654
Reaction score
6,957
Points
284
when i worked for a govt dept a few years ago, things were moving towards having a small number of 'superagents' do our construction work for us, as apparently it's better value than using lots of smaller companys.

Some of those 'superagents' have been on the take:

UK Construction Firms Accused In Price-fixing Probe; Balfour Beatty, Carillion Granted Leniency - Update [BBY.L]

4/17/2008 8:20:16 AM The Office of Fair Trading accused 112 construction firms in England for engaging in bid rigging activities, as part of the largest-ever investigation into the industry.

U.K's construction majors Balfour Beatty Plc (BBY.L, BAFBF.PK) and Carillion Plc(CLLN.L, CIOIF.PK) are among the 112 construction companies accused by the Office of Fair Trading, or OFT, for plotting plans to con taxpayers in a bid-rigging scandal.

In two separate releases, Balfour Beatty and Carillion said that the OFT has granted leniency to the companies, thus reducing any fine which might ultimately be levied.

Other firms that are reportedly included in the allegation are Connaught Plc, Interserve Plc, Morgan Sindall Plc, Kier Group Plc, Rok Plc, Galliford Try, Ballast Nedam NV and Henry Boot Plc.

The OFT alleges that the construction companies have engaged in bid rigging activities, and in particular cover pricing, a situation where one or more bidders collude with a competitor during a tender process to obtain a price or prices which are intended to be too high to win the contract.

As per its investigation, the OFT claimed that the building firms throughout the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside formed a construction cartel which fixed the prices of tenders on a range of public sector and local authority projects, including hospitals, schools and universities.

Under the Competition Act, any company found to be a member of a cartel could be fined as much as 10% of its annual revenue.

John Fingleton, OFT Chief Executive officer, said, “Cartel activity of the type alleged today harms the economy by distorting competition and keeping prices artificially high.” He added, “This investigation, together with the OFT's previous decisions in the roofing sector, will hopefully send out a strong message to the construction industry about the seriousness with which we view suspected anti-competitive behaviour.”

The OFT started its cartel investigation in 2004 after receiving a specific complaint in Midlands. During the course of the investigation, OFT found more than 3 billion pounds worth of tenders as evidence of bid rigging in thousands of orders. The investigation also found bidders on a contract colluding to ensure the firm with the winning tender paid “compensation payments” to the losing bidders.

OFT has asked all the 112 firms to reply to its allegations issued in Statements of Objections which it will take into account before making a final decision as to whether competition law has been infringed.

Out of 112, 37 firms, including Balfour Beatty and Carillion, have applied for leniency while 40 other companies have admitted participation in some bid-rigging activities.

Balfour Beatty said that the company and its operating businesses have co-operated fully with the OFT in all aspects of its investigation.

As a result and subject to ongoing co-operation, the OFT has granted leniency to Balfour Beatty. The company added that it would respond to the OFT in respect of its statement of objections in due course.

Separately, Carillion noted that it has received Statement of Objections relating to tender activities in the construction sector. Carillion said that it would fully co-operate with the OFT's investigation and respond to its Statement of Objections in due course.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Fraudsters net a fortune in Facebook scam
By Richard Elias

A SCOTTISH businessman had almost £30,000 stolen from his bank account after revealing details of his affluent lifestyle on a social networking site, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.
The victim's account was raided within hours of him bragging online about driving his luxury German car, relaxing in his boat and skiing in the United States.

It is the latest example of a growing trend among cybercriminals to turn away from direct attacks on relatively secure bank accounts and to exploit social-networking sites, such as Facebook, Bebo and Myspace. Fraudsters routinely try to persuade users to give away apparently innocuous personal details that can be used to devastating effect.

A Strathclyde Police source said that in another recent case, a young woman in Dumfries revealed on Bebo she was about to attend a school reunion. A fraudster posed as an old school friend and was able to get her date of birth and eBay password. According to the source, the information was used within hours to steal £3,000 from the woman's bank account.

"The victim was lured into a false sense of security by a series of innocent questions, the answer to one of which simply opened the door to her savings," the source said. "Many people think they are too smart to be conned and would recognise the scams, but they do not have any idea about how professional these (scams] are. They have come a long way since the days when they were mis-spelt, amateurish and clearly made up."

In the case of the businessman, which occurred last year, he wrote on Facebook about driving his BMW coupe and spending time relaxing in his boat or "skiing in Colorado".

The police source said: "The description clearly indicated an individual with wealth and it would have leapt out of the pages to the gang. He may well have just written: 'I'm loaded.' The fraudsters then just send him a bogus e-mail, purporting to be from the networking site, asking him to confirm certain details such as his name, date-of-birth and e-mail address, which he subsequently provided and that was enough to see him ripped off for about 30 grand.

"This is becoming a real problem because many people who use Bebo or the such like are not on their guard as they would be if they were checking their bank account online."

It is estimated that one-in-four online social networkers – around 11m in the UK alone – has posted details that fraudsters could use. Fraud experts say almost 90% of users register their full name. Details about where an individual went to school or college and even which football team they support can all be used to help the gangs hack into accounts.

Part of the problem is that many computer users only have one password which they use for everything from a social networking site to a bank account. Some sites allow users to recover a lost password by answering a standard security question, typically "what is your mother's maiden name". A fraudster who can get the answer to that – plus a few other details – has the potential to raid a bank account within hours.

"I've seen e-mail addresses posted, dates-of-birth, property details, even home phone numbers," said the source. "Just one of these pieces of information can be used to extract more personal details, but all four is just giving these people an open invitation to steal. If a stranger came up to you in the pub and asked for that information, there's no way you would give it to them, so why stick in online for everyone to see?"

Online security company Symantec, has just published its latest survey on internet crime, looking at instances across the globe over the past six months. It says the UK is fourth in the table of countries worst hit by crime gangs. Some gangs will use the information they glean to rip off unsuspecting customers; others will sell the details to other fraudsters through instant messaging sites, which may only run for a few hours. It is here that credit-card numbers can be bought for £5, while passwords are on offer for 20p.

The Symantec report states: "Underground economy servers are black market forums used to advertise and trade stolen information and services, typically for identity theft. Their locations is constantly changing due to the nature of these servers, which are often hosted as channels on internet relay chatrooms."

How to stay safe

Protect yourself against identity theft:

• Buy a shredder;

• A classic scam is to redirect your mail to a "dead letterbox". If your mail stops coming, contact Post Office;

• If you live anywhere with a communal hall, make sure your letterbox is secure;

• If you go away, even briefly, tell your bank, credit card firm and the Post Office, in order to stop mail gathering at door;

• Never let credit cards out of your sight when paying;

• Never post your home number, address or personal e-mail on networking sites

http://news.scotsman.com/scitech/Frauds ... 3976699.jp
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
Art teacher sold fake pottery for thousands
By Richard Savill
Last Updated: 3:17AM BST 02/05/2008

A former public school art teacher duped auction houses into selling fake antique pots he made in his shed.

Jeremy Broadway, 52, who used to teach at Bryanston school in Dorset and has a masters degree in ceramics, made thousands of pounds from his fraud.

Bournemouth Crown Court was told that he spent hours copying the work of the renowned late potters Bernard Leach and Lucie Rie.

He made dozens of bowls and vases that he stamped with his own version of the potters' seal to make them appear genuine. He then convinced auctioneers, including Christie's and Bonhams, to offer them for sale.

Bonhams unwittingly sold two fake Leach vases and a Rie pot for a total of £8,900.

Christie's put three bowls purportedly made by Rie up for sale for £17,000 but withdrew them before the auction after doubts were expressed about their authenticity.

Broadway was caught after he returned to Bonhams with more pieces and its head of contemporary ceramics, Ben Williams, discovered they were fakes.

Mr Williams then alerted other auction rooms and buyers after noticing Broadway's work for sale in their catalogues.

Broadway told the police he had inherited the pots and vases from his late father-in-law and he thought they were genuine.

But when police raided his home in the village of Child Okeford, Dorset, they found a studio in an outbuilding, with a potter's wheel and kiln.

The seal stamps were also found along with a number of recently finished bowls with the Rie mark on their bases
.

Police found that collectors across Europe had bought his bogus work between 2003 and 2006 and spent months tracking down and recovering the fakes.

Broadway was charged with obtaining money by deception but he was found mentally unfit to plead and the case was proved in his absence. He was given a 12-month supervision order under the Mental Health Act.

Broadway is thought to have made £20,000 from his deception.

Mr Williams said: "I realised I had made a mistake. I was fooled and I thought the ones I sold were real. :oops:

"It is a bit embarrassing really. I could have ignored it but it was a mistake I made that needed to be sorted out."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... sands.html
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,241
Reaction score
9,074
Points
284
'Couple stole IDs to fund globetrotting'
By Tom Leonard in New York
Last Updated: 3:22AM BST 03/05/2008

A glamorous young couple dubbed a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde enjoyed a jet-setting lifestyle after stealing the identities of friends and neighbours in an elaborate fraud, prosecutors say.

Edward Anderton, 25, and Jocelyn Kirsch, 22, were a golden couple on the Philadelphia social scene - going to the best parties, eating at the best restaurants and regularly holidaying in Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean.

But, as a court will hear later this month, none of the money was theirs. It was defrauded in a scheme that netted $100,000 (£50,000) after they broke into their neighbours' homes and copied their personal details.

When police searched their apartment in Rittenhouse Square, one of Philadelphia's most expensive addresses, they found a sophisticated identity-theft operation, including an ID card-making machine, computer spyware and lock-picking tools.

The couple also had keys to many of their neighbours' apartments and to all of their mailboxes.

Police also discovered a book entitled The Art of Cheating: A Nasty Little Book for Tricky Little Schemers and Their Hapless Victims.

Investigators allege that the couple sneaked into their neighbours' homes and stole social security numbers, bank account details and even a passport.

In at least five cases, they then opened credit card and bank accounts in their victims' names, backed by fake driving licences.

Police believe they also got hold of confidential information by installing spyware software on their neighbours' computers. When police disconnected the pair's computers, the building's entire internet access crashed.

The pair also allegedly fleeced their friends, in one case even stealing the identities of some people who had invited them to stay in New York.

Miss Kirsch made no attempt to hide their lavish lifestyle, posting pictures of their expensive holidays on her Facebook internet page.

Friends who wondered how they financed their spending were reassured that the money came from Miss Kirsch's father, a North Carolina plastic surgeon, and Mr Anderton's job as a business analyst.

However, Mr Anderton, a recent Pennsylvania University graduate, had in fact been sacked after he returned to work with a Caribbean tan having told his bosses that he was off sick. :roll:

Miss Kirsch, a final-year student at a less prestigious neighbouring university, Drexel, told people she wanted to be a United Nations ambassador.

A professor was so impressed by her that he put her on a globalisation debate panel where she sat near the special guest, the Prince of Wales.

The crime spree lasted more than a year before a hairdresser, who had been presented with a bogus cheque for $2,200 for putting extensions in Miss Kirsch's hair, discovered that her mailing address was actually a UPS store.

After the hairdresser, Jen Bisicchia, received a threatening anonymous text message, she went to the police. The couple were caught when they turned up at the UPS store to collect a package of lingerie addressed to one of their victims who lived across their hall.

They now face charges including identity theft, burglary and conspiracy at a preliminary hearing on May 12.

Ron Greenblatt, Miss Kirsch's lawyer, told ABC News that the pair were "just devastated and sad and really remorseful about all this".

The pair, who have yet to plead, are out on bail and Miss Kirsch has been working in the rather less glamorous environs of a Starbucks outlet in northern California.

The case has attracted considerable interest across America. But Terry Sweeney, the police detective who handled the investigation, told Rolling Stone magazine that the couple hardly deserved to be compared to Bonnie and Clyde.

"That's only because they're young and good-looking. These two were complete idiots," he said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...'Couple-stole-IDs-to-fund-globetrotting'.html

With friends like these, who needs enemies..?
 

OneWingedBird

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Messages
15,654
Reaction score
6,957
Points
284
a pretty grim tale :(

Web scam drove student to suicide

An inquest has been told how a university student killed herself after falling victim to an internet scam.

Jaiyue Wang, 23, gave more than £6,000 in the belief she had won half a million pounds in a lottery after being contacted over the internet.

She arrived in Britain last summer from Hainan in China to study at the University of Nottingham.

Recording a suicide verdict, Nottingham coroner Dr Nigel Chapman said her death, in April, was a tragedy.

Vulnerable woman

He said: "A young university student - doesn't speak very much English, her parents don't speak English - been coming across to one of the great universities but has taken her own life because of a scam from Nigeria."

Ms Wang was found hanged at her home in Beeston last month.

Jonathan Ray, a University of Nottingham spokesman, said: "Obviously anybody who hears this story will just feel that it's a despicable exploitation of a vulnerable person whatever their status or location in life.

"It's just deeply sad that the young woman was so badly hit by what happened to her just before Christmas."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/nott ... 380093.stm
 
Top