It’s easy to laugh at the wild claims that appear in email scam messages — rich deposed dictators who need your help, millionaire widows dying of cancer, hidden bank accounts that belonged to a long lost relative. But it’s important to remember that the people who send these messages in an organized way are real criminals.
A story this week from New Zealand reports on a man who was hooked by a regular email scammer, and after a very long period of contact, during which the man kept giving money to the scammer and still didn’t catch on, he was tricked by the scammer into smuggling a large quantity of illegal drugs into New Zealand.
The relationship between the scammer and this victim started in the usual way. “A ‘Daniel Tucker’ sent an email claiming to work for the United Nations in Nigeria. He told Mr Miranda that the UN had set aside US$8.5 million to repay the $100,000 and use the remaining balance to build an orphanage in New Zealand. The money never arrived.”
Eventually, the victim “was lured to Papua New Guinea on the promise of picking up US$8.5 million in cash. He returned empty-handed — except for some extra luggage, which a man who called himself ‘Daniel Tucker’ asked him to take.” When customs officials X-rayed the luggage they found “1.5kg of methamphetamine hidden in secret compartments in the padding.”
Fortunately in this case, the victim was able to cooperate with authorities and set up the real drug smugglers, who were eventually captured.