“Beyond the border scam”, pay attention to the instance of the new Nigerian fraud

Pierluigi Paganini February 22, 2024

Security researcher Salvatore Lombardo shared details about a new instance of Nigerian fraud that he called ‘Beyond the border scam.’

The 419 scam is a form of scam that requires the recipient to pay an upfront sum to receive a much larger reward later. The name derives from article 419 of the Nigerian penal code which punishes this type of fraud and is therefore also known as Nigerian fraud. The 419 scam is based on deception and psychological manipulation, exploiting the greed, pity, or curiosity of victims. Here is an example of the new Nigerian scam to which I have given the name ” Beyond the border scam ” and which is carried out entirely online and via email. In the following description, I have omitted the names mentioned, so as not to potentially involve real names that have nothing to do with the ongoing scam.

The desperate cry for help

It all begins with a desperate, very direct request for help via email from an alleged Ukrainian widow residing in a refugee camp, to receive a large sum of money bequeathed by her husband who died in the war. during the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in 2022.

Following up on the electronic letter, the alleged widow begins a copious correspondence in which she says she was left completely alone after the death of her husband and children and without a home or money and hosted in a border refugee camp, where she feeds herself. barely and cannot afford to leave the camp, nor to operate his own bank account but only to survive miserably.

“ I am writing to you from an old desktop computer in the tent of the chaplain who works on behalf of a refugee agency, because here there is no internet point or effective means of communication. […]. I have here with me access to my late husband’s online bank account and a paper copy of his last foreign bank statement, but I can no longer access the bank account and cannot make withdrawals or transfers because the account is frozen . 

Lavish compensation and conditions

In this dramatic scenario here is the real request: “ The bank manager, due to my refugee status, advised me to find a partner or representative anywhere in the world who will take care of me and receive the money on my behalf[ …]”, obviously for a generous fee , “ Please, I really need your kind-hearted help and I am willing to offer you a part of the money if you help me .”. Under the following conditions: “ Do you accept my proposal to offer a quarter of the money as compensation for your help? Will you make sure to help me out of my unfortunate situation, receive the money and send me some to purchase my travel documents and start a new life? Do you ensure that you do not run away with the money once it is received in your bank account? ”.

“ For security reasons ,” the email continues, “ the bank manager advised me to always remind my representative to keep this transaction confidential until the money successfully arrives in your checking account, in so as to avoid the unjustified interception of our communications with their bank by some hacker on the internet .

Nigerian fraud

Sample of the request for the mandate that the representative must sign and send to the bank for the transfer of the inheritance

Here’s the scam

But to do all this, the representative should take responsibility for sending a letter requesting the transfer of funds to the indicated bank manager, attaching a series of documents that only the lady possesses but in paper format. ” I only have the paper copy of my late husband’s last bank statement with the death certificate and I should scan them, attach them and send them to you now because it is important that you have a copy of these documents because the bank may request them, but there is no document scanning machine in our refugee camp. In order to scan, attach and send the copies, I will have to go to a center very far from our camp .”

The response of the elusive bank intermediary.

And here is the request for money. To be able to afford the trip and pay for the document scanning service, the widow would need financial support from her representative which could be paid into an account made available by an elusive official of the usual refugee agency in service at the same tent city, justifying it by saying that “ […]Refugees are not allowed to operate a bank account because we do not have legal immigration documents here. 

Pay attention to the typical pattern

Obviously the account does not belong to a refugee agency but to an impostor owner and any sending of money would only end up in the hands of the scammer who will ask for more money to be sent to also pay for the legal assistance necessary for issuing the authorization to the transfer of inheritance. Therefore pay attention to the typical scheme:

  • The scam begins with an email received from an alleged widow in difficulty asking for help in receiving the inheritance of her husband who died in the war, in exchange for a large fee;
  • once responded, other emails will arrive, with other information and the intermediation of a bank and refugee official;
  • Finally, personal details and financial support will be requested as well as all instructions to prepare the necessary documentation for the transfer of the fund, to be paid to an account of a refugee agency.

The 419 scam is very widespread and dangerous, and can cause serious economic and psychological damage to victims. To protect yourself in these cases it is important to be cautious and skeptical when receiving requests for money from strangers and even from foreign countries. Furthermore, it is best to never provide your personal or banking details and always report scam attempts and cases to the competent authorities .

For the moment the fraudulent account (probably not the only one) into which all the proceeds flow has collected approximately €1,371.00.

Nigerian fraud


About the author: Salvatore Lombardo (Twitter @Slvlombardo)

Electronics engineer and Clusit member, for some time now, espousing the principle of conscious education, he has been writing for several online magazine on information security. He is also the author of the book “La Gestione della Cyber Security nella Pubblica Amministrazione”. “Education improves awareness” is his slogan.

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook and Mastodon

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Nigerian fraud)

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