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ParaNoid
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:45 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

From victim to convict, how getting involved with a scammer messes up your life.

Here are the news articles of the story:

Cyber scam cleans out family
13th November 2006

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2006/11/13/apn-cyber-scam-cleans-ou/


Teen scammer owes $37,000
23rd May 2009
Caitlin Brownlaw, who turns 19 next week, pleaded guilty to acting as a "money mule" for unknown overseas scammers who she helped launder stolen money through eight different bank accounts set up in her name in Toowoomba.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2009/05/23/teen-scammer-caught/

Mum lands in jail over net scam
17th November 2009
TOOWOOMBA mother Samantha Anne Brownlaw yesterday was jailed for four months and ordered to pay back more than $40,000 she received by acting as a “money mule” for overseas internet scammers.
Brownlaw, 42, appeared in the Toowoomba District Court and pleaded guilty to dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The single mother became involved in the scam after she was duped out of $10,000 by Nigerian internet scammers in 2006.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2009/11/17/mum-lands-in-jail-over-net-scam/


Yes, Virginia, this is why I bait. Scammers are scum and they screw with real people's lives. Evil or Very Mad

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NickTheCop
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Joined: 05 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 9:58 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

From what I gather from the latter two articles, the two suspects were willing mules. They knew well enough what they were doing. (Or so the articles make it seem)

Honestly, I have no sympathy for them. Bottom line is, they tried to make an easy buck through fraud rather than work. Confused

Sorry, ladies. Shit happens. It never gives you justification to resort to the same measures.

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Nurse Nasty
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Joined: 31 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:53 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

ParaNoid wrote:
The single mother became involved in the scam after she was duped out of $10,000 by Nigerian internet scammers in 2006.


Still a victim Nick. Originally anyway. She'd lost $10,000 in a scam. Obviously feeling embarrassed, used, vulnerable and desperate she tried to recover her money any way she could. Desperate people do desperate things. Yes she knew what she was doing in the end, but the world has never been one of absolutes and certainty.

I don't condone the action, but you can understand it, and even sympathise.

After chatting with a few desperate people who've lost everything you tend to refine your view of the world of scams. I'm not debating right and wrong, it's a matter of perspective.

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Jammy
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:06 am Reply with quoteBack to top

All three newspaper stories are the same family, just at different points in their slide from scam victim to mule for the scammer.

I can feel sorry for this family, while still condemning their bad choice to work for the scammer who scammed them.

I suspect that many scam victims end up in a very bad place emotionally and financially etc after being scammed, and from what I understand it's not uncommon for a 419 gang to recruit their own ruined victims, promising that this is the best way to get out of their debt (that the 419 gang caused).

Many (not all) scam victims have a lax morality to begin with, allowing greed to blind them to what most people would identify as a questionable deal. Many scams have a shared guilt element built into them, so that the victim is unlikely to report the crime ("You must tell nobody of this confidential arrangement" etc).

So, I can see the recruitment of the former victim as yet more bullying by the scammers, and feel sorry for them. Nick's point is still valid, though. One assumes they had a choice about this, and chose the wrong thing.
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Nurse Nasty
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:14 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Jammy wrote:
Nick's point is still valid, though.


Out of the three of us that posted no-one said it wasn't.

Nurse Nasty wrote:
I don't condone the action

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Jammy
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:35 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Nurse Nasty wrote:
Jammy wrote:
Nick's point is still valid, though.


Out of the three of us that posted no-one said it wasn't.


I know. I wasn't trying to argue with anyone.

That was just my way of saying I agreed with what Nick was saying, in spite of also feeling sympathy for the family.
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Ima Baeder
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:36 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Many (not all) scam victims have a lax morality to begin with,


I disagree. It depends what type of scam you're talking about. Sure, for NOK scams. Certainly not with many of the other types of scams.

I too have spent a lot of time working with victims and agree with NN's point about desperation. While it's never ok to commit crimes, I can understand how a victim could reach this point and have sympathy for them.

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Jammy
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:01 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^Ima

I guess I was just thinking about the types of scams I tend to bait, which are almost exclusively claimed inheritance, box full-o-money, corrupt bank manager, dying widow type scams.

I didn't mean to imply that the victim of a romance scam (for example) has lax morals.

I believe the family in the article initially fell for a claimed inheritance scam.
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Titania
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:57 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Actually, the initial article implied that the victim thought the inheritance was real and legitimately hers.

Some victims feel that the whole world has turned against them, especially when the generosity of those who help in the beginning wears thin. The loss of a large amount of money (especially money one cannot afford to lose) can affect a person in much the same way as the loss of one of the senses (hearing, sight, etc.), a limb, or even of a loved one. Some never make it through to the final stage of grief, which is THRIVING - using what you have gone through to help others.

When one is in the midst of anger and depression, common sense and concern for the welfare of others are not often at the ready. Sad

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Nurse Nasty
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:10 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^ Exactly.

@ Jammy, understanding the vicious cycle of these various scams is something you learn with time. All the information we have is a news story so we try and look beyond generalising or guessing an individuals state of mind or moral compass. These people have paid the price of desperation.

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Jammy
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:53 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I wasn't trying to pass judgment; rather, I was more trying to understand the psychology behind a situation like this. But I can see how I might have ruffled some feathers with my "lax morality to begin with" comment. Sorry. I'll defer to those who have more experience with this type of victimization.

Let me try again:

As for becoming a bank mule after being victimized by a scammer, that is still very understandable to me. Falling victim to a scam must be a terrible blow to one's self esteem, in addition to all the more material fallout. After it's over, one might say "I must have been really stupid and greedy to fall for that" even if they were not at all stupid or greedy at the time. It must be very hard to maintain a strong ethical center if your sense of self worth is in the toilet. That's why I find it easier to have sympathy for these people than to blame them.

Better?
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Ima Baeder
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:00 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Much better. Thank you for clarifying.

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ParaNoid
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:29 am Reply with quoteBack to top

In trying to understand the "psychology" or etiology of this situation (and many others) please consider this:
17 Nov article wrote:
Brownlaw’s barrister Robbie Davies said his client was vulnerable as she suffered from a bipolar disorder.


We have seen over and over that scammers prey on the vulnerable. If you know a person with bipolar disorder, you know the highs and lows they experience. From invulnerability to crawling in a hole pulling dirt in on top of yourself.

The scammer would love to have a victim riding that roller coaster with them. "Awww, so sad you lost all of your money, your depression is valid, I have a way to help you recover that money and more. Why yes, your daughter can help! Sure you get to keep 10 percent (or more) for your efforts..."

I am not saying that she or they should not have to do the time and restitution. I don't see this as a greed based crime, at least in the beginning. It was a crime of desperation, then opportunity, AND they got caught in their part.

The scammers... umm, they moved on and ruined untold others lives. I don't believe that any victims turned mules would stick a gun or knife in anyone's ribs to get ahead. They get trapped. I have wondered if I got trapped into being a mule, what I would do to get out.

This type of situation is exactly why when a victim surfaces here, we warn them about recovery scams too.


NB
I was told by a psychology instructor of a situation where a person with bipolar disorder was off their medication traded the same car in for three different sports cars. Were they a thief, scammer or suffering from a mental disorder?

Makes you think...

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Mr Tambourine Man
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:29 am Reply with quoteBack to top

They had to be ordered to repay the stolen money. Normally this isn't necessary as the result of the scam is to leave the victim with an overdraft.
Here the victims kept all the money, and I suspect complicated matters by transferring it elsewhere.

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Ghost
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:07 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I have no idea how anyone can make a judgment without knowing all the facts

I'm sure there is a lot more to the story other then her being a money mule. Desperate people do desperate thinks in order to keep their head above the water.

The victim seemed like an easy mark. This should be proof enough that lad's don't just steal from "rich white people" but from anyone and they have no remorse what they do to their victims as long as they get their free money. Lads seek victims that are poor, desperate, and weak. The type of victim the lad chooses should speak volumes about him.

I am still under the impression that most lads are sociopaths.

Edit: fixed some of my ambien babble

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Last edited by Ghost on Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Fo'andles
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:49 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

This is an article i found on Moneywise

Don't fall for money mule scam

By Rebecca Atkinson Last Update: Mon, 16/11/2009 - 13:50

Income seekers are being targeted with ‘too good to be true’ money-making opportunities and fake jobs that could see them tricked into laundering money for criminals.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) says it has serious concerns that people using the internet to find paid employment could fall victim to these sophisticated scams, and unknowingly end up as money mules laundering money made through illegal activity.
Adverts for fake jobs are springing up all over the web, even on legitimate channels such as mainstream recruitment websites, according to GetSafeOnline.org, the UK’s national internet security initiative.
The aim of these ads is to mislead people into thinking they have a genuine job that will offer substantial earnings for relatively little work. In fact, people who fall for these offers could up being tagged as criminals, having their bank accounts frozen and the laundered funds recovered from their personal accounts money.
Job titles to watch out for include ‘financial manager’, ‘money transfer agent’, ‘shipping manager’ or even ‘mystery shopper’. It is estimated that there are around 100 known mule recruitment sites targeting UK surfers, each of which may have around 50 ‘money mules’.

Some criminal gangs are also targeting new victims by sending out unsolicited emails with job offers.
“Criminals are reliant on mule operations to receive and forward money taken from online banking fraud - some money mules know exactly what they are doing, however, many end up unwittingly laundering profits for overseas criminals as a result of being taken in by fake recruitment sites,” warns Sharon Lemon, deputy director of e-Crime at SOCA.

Around a third of people looking for jobs online use legitimate, mainstream employment websites. However, with these being increasingly hijacked by scammers, there are concerns that many innocent people could fall foul – and end up criminals themselves.
Tony Neate, managing director of GetSafeOnline.org, says: “Fraudsters go to great lengths to convince potential mules that they are applying for a genuine job - some even issue official-looking ‘employment contracts’ for their ‘employees’ to sign.”

He adds: “With many people looking for ways to earn money during a recession, it’s critical that people learn to spot the warning signs to avoid becoming a victim.”
How to spot a scam
If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Look out for jobs that offer big rewards for very little effort or experience.
People should be especially wary of offers from people or companies overseas, as it is harder to verify if they are who they say they are.
If you see an ad that catches your eye, then before you do anything you must carry out some research on the company in question. Check their postal address and phone number are correct, as well as any given email address and website.
Never give your bank details to anyone unless you know and trust them.
If you think you may be a victim of one of these scams, contact your bank immediately.

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