You know those annoying Nigerian scam e-mails we’ve all had? Or perhaps the eBay scams where you’re paid by check from somewhere, only to discover too late that the check is a fake. Well, payback has happened. A series of co-ordinated raids in the US, Canada, Britain and Nigeria last week led to a number of arrests, following a long sting operation. In the UK alone, over $17 million in checks were seized, while worldwide that figure was said to be over $2 billion. As Internet crime grows by leaps and bounds, there has been a vast rise in complaints over the fake check scam – by 60% in the US alone. Many victims only lose small amounts, but the sheer volume translates into big business. And in some cases, the victims are hit hard – two in Canada are reputed to have lost $300,000. There are several types of scam thought to have originated in Nigeria, from the “I’m the son/widow of a government official” type of e-mail to the advance free fraud now known internationally as the Nigerian 419 scam. A source quoted by the Daily Mirror said, "This was aimed at tackling the people at the top. There have been a number of arrests in Nigeria and the authorities there have been active in tackling this fraud. We believe we have landed a significant blow on the individuals behind this fraud." Although the raids and arrests have made a dent in the criminal business, it’s probably no more than that. The Dutch group Ultrascan believes there are around 250,000 Internet conmen operating out of Nigeria.
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