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HC warns people against falling prey to 'Nigerian 419 scams'

Tamil Nadu - The Hindu - 17-01-11
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The Madras High Court Bench here has warned people against falling prey to fake emails and text messages sent to mobile phones stating that they have won huge amounts of money in random draw of lots and subsequent requests to pay processing charges for claiming the prize money.

While dealing with an anticipatory bail application preferred by two private bank managers, Justice S. Vaidyanathan said such crimes were known as 'Nigerian 419 scams' since they had their origin in Nigeria and '419' referred to a provision of that country's criminal code concerning fraudulent transactions.

"The scamsters send mass letters, messages and emails with the sole intention to defraud foolish and greedy recipients who easily fall into their tricks. The said offence is also named as an advance-fee fraud since the victim is convinced to pay advance money to a stranger with the false promise that a much larger sum of money will be returned to him or her.

"The modern version of the scam takes place through email correspondence and the criminals will also make up a plausible story to explain as to why a fee is needed in advance. The email may claim that a few hundred dollars are needed as application fee to get back the large sum already won and that wire transfer of such a large sum of money involves fees that must be paid in advance.

"Persons normally lose their properties and money on account of their greediness and when they realise their mistake, by that time, they would have lost their entire property. They would themselves be ashamed of their foolishness in parting with money to unknown persons and would not inform about their inescapable cornered position to anybody," the judge said.

Pointing out that a recent report had stated that the individual scams ranged anywhere between US $ 200 and $12 million, the judge said people must be vigilant in not falling prey to such criminals.

In so far as the advance bail plea of the two bank managers, who had been accused by a complainant of having siphoned off huge amounts of money from his bank account, was concerned, the judge closed the petition without passing any orders since the case had been transferred from Thanjavur District Crime Branch police to Cyber Crime Cell in Chennai.

Tags: Nigerian scams,Nigerian 419, Madras High Court Bench,advance-fee fraud,advance fee fraud

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