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 Woman out $400K to 'Nigerian scam' con artists

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Ari
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Joined: 17 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:23 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad I hate scammers.
---------------------------------------
SWEET HOME, Ore. – Janella Spears doesn’t think she’s a sucker or an easy mark.

Besides her work as a nursing administrator, Spears – no relation to the well-known pop star – also teaches CPR and is a reverend who has married many couples. She also communicates with lightning-fast sign language with her hearing-impaired husband.

So how did this otherwise lucid, intelligent woman end up sending nearly half a million dollars to a bunch of con artists running what has to be one of the best-known Internet scams in the world?

Spears fell victim to the "Nigerian scam," which is familiar to almost anyone who has ever had an e-mail account.

The e-mail pitch is familiar to most people by now: a long-lost relative or desperate government official in a war-torn country needs to shuffle some funds around, say $10 million or $20 million, and if you could just help them out for a bit, you get to keep 10 (or 20 or 30) percent for your trouble.

All you need to do is send X-amount of dollars to pay some fees and all that cash will suddenly land in your checking account, putting you on Easy Street. By the way, please send the funds though an untraceable wire service.

By this time, not many people will fall for such an outrageous pitch, and the scam is very well-known. But it persists, and for a reason: every now and then, it works.

Spears received just such an e-mail, promising her that she’d get $20.5 million if she would only help out a long-lost relative – identified in the e-mail as J.B. Spears – with a little money up front. "That's what got me to believe it," Spears said.

It turned out to be a lot of money up front, but it started with just $100.

The scammers ran Spears through the whole program. They said President Bush and FBI Director "Robert Muller" (their spelling) were in on the deal and needed her help.

They sent official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and even from the United Nations. Her payment was "guaranteed."

Then the amount she would get jumped up to $26.6 million – if she would just send $8,300. Spears sent the money.

More promises and teases of multi-millions followed, with each one dependent on her sending yet more money. Most of the missives were rife with misspellings.

When Spears began to doubt the scam, she got letters from the President of Nigeria, FBI Director Mueller, and President Bush. Terrorists could get the money if she did not help, Bush’s letter said. Spears continued to send funds. All the letters were fake, of course.

She wiped out her husband’s retirement account, mortgaged the house and took a lien out on the family car. Both were already paid for.

For more than two years, Spears sent tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone she knew, including law enforcement officials, her family and bank officials, told her to stop, that it was all a scam. She persisted.

Spears said she kept sending money because the scammers kept telling her that the next payment would be the last one, that the big money was inbound. Spears said she became obsessed with getting paid.

An undercover investigator who worked on the case said greed helped blind Spears to the reality of the situation, which he called the worst example of the scam he’s ever seen.

He also said he has seen people become obsessed with the scam before. They are so desperate to recoup their losses with the big payout, they descend into a vicious cycle of sending money in hopes the false promises will turn out to be real.

Now, Spears has gone public with her story as a warning to others not to fall victim.

She hopes her story will warn others to listen to reason and avoid going down the dark tunnel of obsession that ended up costing her so much.

Spears estimates it will take two years to dig out of the debt she ran up in pursuit of the non-existent pot of Nigerian gold.

http://www.katu.com/news/34292654.html
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Gnasher
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:33 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

A cautionary tale Crying or Very sad Victims like this who know deep down they are being scammed but continue to send money despite warnings and pleading from their family, friends and even law enforcement are very much like problem gamblers. Just one more payment (or spin of the wheel) and the big payout will be theirs.

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Bucky
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:34 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

This is precisely why we bait.

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irishemigrant
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 12:37 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Could you please post this in Scamwarners as well Spec_K?

It may help a few of the vics that are reluctant to believe what we tell them.

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Ari
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:08 am Reply with quoteBack to top

If I can figure out what name I signed up with on SW, sure thing Irish. Smile
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Star A Star
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:08 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

it's the comments which sicken me

'she only has herself to blame'
'she must be thick'
'greed gets the upper hand'
'she may be trying to scam us'
'shes trying to avoid taxes'

Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad

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Mr Tambourine Man
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:32 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Spears estimates it will take two years to dig out of the debt she ran up in pursuit of the non-existent pot of Nigerian gold.

$200k a year after tax? If she had that sort of earnings potential, wouldn't she have savings of more than $400K by now?
I hope someone has warned her of the recovery scam that's bound to follow.

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LetsGoYanks
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:29 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Special_K wrote:
:\Spears said she kept sending money because the scammers kept telling her that the next payment would be the last one, that the big money was inbound. Spears said she became obsessed with getting paid.


I also find it interesting the PI said that her "greed" kept her making these payments. I guess this is true of some (but not all) victims.

This is just like people who are addicted to gambling. Thinking the next moment, next trip, or next pull of the lever is going to be the one that pays the big bucks. Why or how she believed anything that [email protected] with terrible grammar or a fake robert muller said is beyond me. I have never seen any documents from these guys that has ever looked convicing. It blows my mind people fall for this crap.

It's really sad to see all the damage that they do. But, only 2 years to dig herself out of a $400,000 hole??

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Ari
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:35 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I've gone through all the postings on the news site and everyone seems to be missing the scammers greed. I posted a few times and pointed out that aspect.
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Ex.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:15 am Reply with quoteBack to top

~ cisismygame,

Sadly mate, a handful of those comments are the truth, even though it's in a brutally honest way (which sometimes is the best way). We as baiters ultimately have to come to terms with the fact that the victims of 419 are either self-saboteurs or greedy in most cases. And the worst part is, its that it can actually be easier for a scammer to scam a more intelligent person than one of lower learning. Intelligent people can tend to be cocky/arrogant and never believe they are making a mistake till it's too late and they wind up like the woman in the article. The best thing to do is educate people and do our part as the vigilantes of the internet.

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Vanndickey
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:49 am Reply with quoteBack to top

The craziest thing about this is I've actually talked to Janella Spears while I was working as a medical conference coordinator. Some of her co-workers attended the conference I was working....small world!

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irishemigrant
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:18 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks to the wonders of NZ Telecom Broadband, I've managed to post there as well after an hour of white pages and frozen screens

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N N N
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:03 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Well at least she didn't end up in jail for theft or fraud as some victims do in their obsession to get the money to send to the real criminals.

As for 419er's being the "vigilantes of the internet" I don't think so! Rolling Eyes
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GomerPyle
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 9:25 am Reply with quoteBack to top

On the subject of greed, you could just as easily respond to anyone making that accusation by asking if it's greed that makes them pick up their pay cheque at the end of each month.

Having spoken to some victims I wonder whether some have little interest in the money, but are just drawn in by the drama and intrigue and love the attention and interest of the scammer. I know it's not always the case, but some victims appear blinded to reality even when told that it's all make believe.

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Jerome
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:11 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I just came upon the story on some french news sites.
I just can't believe it.

But with such a sum it should be possible to track down the scammers, no??

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Murry Guru
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:58 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ sadly no Sad

Regardless of the amount, the problems are still the same;

Lack of resources
Coruption in the places scammers thrive
Anonymity of the scammer
Western Union (at both ends) not caring

Edited for typos, must learn not to rush posts Embarassed

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Last edited by Murry Guru on Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:36 am; edited 2 times in total
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LadyKyte
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:52 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm incredibly mixed on this. It makes me angry that they target people like this, yet I'm also a bit sad that she didn't heed the warnings her family and friends gave until it was too late.

Quote:
On the subject of greed, you could just as easily respond to anyone making that accusation by asking if it's greed that makes them pick up their pay cheque at the end of each month.

Having spoken to some victims I wonder whether some have little interest in the money, but are just drawn in by the drama and intrigue and love the attention and interest of the scammer. I know it's not always the case, but some victims appear blinded to reality even when told that it's all make believe.


I agree with all of this. It's easy to sit there and point fingers and tell someone it was all for greed, but it's not quite that cut-and-dried. My uncle was taken in by a romance scam (until my Mom intervened, so the damage was minimal) because he was lonely; my better half nearly fell victim to a check-cashing scam because he finally said "yes" after being pestered for some time via IM by someone. I doubt greed could describe either of these cases, nor does it fit for most others.

And you have a good point on the attention part, Gomer. I know many times older folks are swindled because the swindler makes them feel like someone cares, which is a big thing for a lonely person. It's sad that people manipulate folks like that for their own gains.

(To the Mods. Sorry I posted this same topic last night. I looked around this place for a while, but only saw this topic this morning when I'd goten some sleep. That'll teach me to post at nearly 1AM after having worked an 8-hour shift. Razz )

No probs, I put it out with the black bin bags this morning - RC Smile

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maxx
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:39 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Wow, You feel sorry for her...it seems so obvious to be a scam..but people still fall for them every day.

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Vanndickey
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:31 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Gotta keep fighting the good fight and stay after these scumbags.

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Murry Guru
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 8:20 am Reply with quoteBack to top

As much as these people annoy me at their lack of being able to see what looks like obvious signs to the rest of us that they are being scammed, I guess some are a little greedy for wanting to make a better life for their families.

Some I imagine would have little chance of a better life if not for these offers of instant wealth, so when the mention of their fullfilled dreams come along, it is hard not to want to believe it is true, I wish it were true. Then once they have outlayed some money, even small amounts, it doesn't take much to convince them that another small payment will save them from losing the initial investment and make their dreams come true.

After a while the amounts get bigger and so does the amount the vic will lose if they give up now, of course the scammer is telling them exactly that, by this stage the scammer becomes their friend, of course he is, he is helping them, the money is being paid to the barrister and your new friend is chipping in with some of his own money when he can, surely, if this were a scam, my friend wouldn't be putting his money into it.

Eventually you run out of your own money, so what to do next, give up on your lifes savings, and admit that you now own nothing or continue to live the dream, but the problem remains, your internet friend tells you that just a little bit more money will be the last payment and he should ask his family and friends, after all, he has borrowed money from his friends so it is only fair, you offer your friends double what you borrowed off them, the scammer has told you the money will be in your account next week so you tell your friend that in a weeks time you will both celebrate, of course the scam hasn't ended here, it has only just begun, as you start to owe your friends money you need to be able to pay it back, in a juggling act with your friends, some will be repayed to shut them up while others are offered an even bigger slice of this invisible pie if only they will invest some more, sometimes the friends will actually lose more than the original victim.

Eventually, your family and friends have had enough and you stop comunicating with all but the most trusting of your friends who continue to help you.

Your friends will start to have trouble financially as well having paid so much to you, some may lose their home and investment property and be forced to move in with the daughter who told her all along it was a scam, other firends will have their lifes savings gone, retirement and college funds gone the list of enemies grows while your friend base shrinks, you begin to move around within your own country, finding and convincing any friends you can to invest, witrh that resource exhausted you may even begin searching the world for new friends.

Starting to sound far fetched you think, think again, a situation just like I have described is going on right now and there seems to be nothing that can be done to stop it beside this numpty realising its a scam, it is estimated the total is now in the vicinity of $200,000 but I believe it is still growing.

Sure the vic is partly the blame, but it is not the vics fault they met a lad with a promise

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LadyKyte
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I really have to wonder if there's going to be an uptick in people falling for these scams with the way the economy's going to hell in a handbasket right now. People are getting pretty desperate from what I've heard, and desperation doesn't exactly breed the most rational choices.

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