Ultrascan KPO

Knowledge itself is power

Attacks on US, Korea Web Sites Leave a Winding Trail - PCWorld

"Going after IP addresses is not really helpful," said Max Becker, CTO of Ultrascan Knowledge Process Outsourcing, a subsidiary of fraud investigation firm Ultrascan. "What we are trying to do is go after the people who set up and pay for these kinds of attacks."

Ultrascan has a network of informants who are closed to organized criminal gangs in Asia, many of which are involved in cybercrime - 11 08 2009

Going after IP addresses is not really helpful

Worldwide Slump Makes Nigeria's Online Scammers Work That Much Harder - Washington Post

By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer

Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations in the Netherlands, which has a special department dedicated to 419 crimes, estimates conservatively that $4.3 billion was lost worldwide to 419 scams in 2007. Countries most victimized are the U.S., U.K. and Japan. Ultrascan's data comes from its own investigations, and it advises that the real figure is likely many times higher.

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LAGOS, Nigeria -- Online swindling takes dedication even in the best of times, the scammer said earnestly.

The spinal cord aches from sitting at a desk. The eyes itch from staring at a computer. The heart thumps from drinking bitter cola to stay awake for chats with Americans in faraway time zones. The wallet shrinks from buying potions that supposedly compel the Americans to pay.

Succeeding in the midst of a worldwide economic meltdown? That, he said, takes even firmer resolve.

"We are working harder. The financial crisis is not making it easy for them over there," said Banjo, 24, speaking about Americans, whose trust he has won and whose money he has fleeced, via his Dell laptop. "They don't have money. And the money they don't have, we want."

Banjo is a polite young man in a button-down shirt, and he is the sort of guy on the other end of that block-lettered missive requesting your "URGENT ASSISTANCE" in transferring millions of dollars. He is the sort who made Nigeria infamous for cyberscams, which experts say are increasing in these tough times.

U.S. authorities say Americans -- the easiest prey, according to Nigerian scammers -- lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year to cybercrimes, including a scheme known as the Nigerian 419 fraud, named for a section of the Nigerian criminal code. Now financially squeezed, Americans succumb even more easily to offers of riches, experts say.

Though statistics are fuzzy, the FBI-backed Internet Crime Complaint Center says that scam reports by Americans grew 33 percent last year, and that after the United States and Britain, Nigeria housed the most perpetrators. Ultrascan, a Dutch research firm that investigates complaints of 419 fraud, says online scam offers from Nigerians in and outside their homeland have mushroomed this year.

Nigerian officials dispute their country's prominence in online fraud, noting that scam networks rely on agents around the globe. But 419 is cemented in Nigerian popular culture. The scammers, known as "yahoo-yahoo boys," are glorified in pop songs such as "Yahoozee," which gained even more fame after former secretary of state Colin L. Powell danced to it at a London festival last year.

"My maga don pay/Shout alleluia!" goes another Nigerian anthem, which celebrates, in slang and pidgin English, that a victim -- maga -- sent money.

Wireless Internet has allowed scammers to move from cybercafes into private residences to churn out e-mails. Nigerian scammers are mostly young men who learn from one another, often as apprentices of cartel-like schemes.

"I'm selling greed," said Felix, 29, an e-mail swindler. "You didn't apply for any lotto, and all of a sudden you just see a mail in your mailbox that you're going to win money? That means you have to be greedy."

Some e-mails promise wealth, perhaps in the form of jewels trapped in the bank box of a deceased dictator, but later require victims to wire "fees" for paperwork or insurance. Dating scams promise love, but eventually the sweetheart needs cash. The most sophisticated lure investors to view venture opportunities in foreign lands -- and persuade them, over fake business meetings, to sink millions.

Felix, like four other self-proclaimed scammers interviewed, did not want his full name published for fear of arrest or angering allies. But the swindlers spoke as if conning were an ordinary trade -- one made more cutthroat in challenging times.

Felix and Banjo said they started as college students. Their campus, one state away from Lagos, teemed with young men with fancy cars, designer clothing and beautiful girlfriends -- scammers all.

In the lingo of swindlers, Felix said he went "on the street." He got "tools": formats, or "FMs," for letters; "mailers," or accounts that send e-mails in bulk; and huge lists of e-mail addresses, bought online.

In good months, he said, he has made $30,000, which he blew on clothes, hotel rooms and Dom Perignon at "VVIP" clubs. These days, he lamented, proceeds are down 40 percent.

Chidi Nnamdi Igwe, a professor at the University of Regina in Canada, said jobless young Nigerians got the idea in the 1970s from news reports about corrupt politicians funneling oil proceeds to foreign bank accounts. Scammers began posting letters in the 1980s and later moved to e-mail, said Igwe, author of "Taking Back Nigeria From 419."

Nigerian authorities insist they are tough on 419 perpetrators. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says the cases made up 45 percent of its prosecutions from 2003 to 2006. Commission spokesman Femi Babafemi said authorities nab scammers in frequent cybercafe raids. The commission also is adopting software that sifts through e-mails sent from Nigeria to block scams, he said.

"These things are giving Nigeria a bad image," said Babafemi, adding that scammers' overseas partners and victims lured by promises of wealth should share blame.

Frank Engelsman, an Ultrascan researcher, said curbing e-mail scams requires better cross-border cooperation among law enforcement. Others say public awareness is the key. But online victim support groups abound. U.S. embassy, bank and money-transfer-agency Web sites display warnings about scams.

Still, people get duped.

"My fiancee is there in Lagos. . . . She is an American . . . she speaks with a heavy African accent after being there for two years," one smitten American wrote to the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, pleading for help. "I have attempted to send her money so that she can leave the country, and both times the guy at Western Union stole the money."

Banjo said his most lucrative swindle is the work-from-home scam, which authorities warn is flourishing as the world sheds jobs. In U.S. newspapers and on the Web, he places ads for "pickup agents" or "correspondents." They print out counterfeit corporate checks -- Honeywell is one company whose checks Banjo said he faked -- at $10 apiece and mail them to other unsuspecting folks.

Those victims then cash the checks and wire the funds to the scammer's accomplice in Britain or South Africa -- places less likely to elicit the sender's suspicion. After taking a cut, that person wires the rest to Banjo. Days later, when the bank deems the check phony, the casher must pay.

In good months, Banjo said, he has made $60,000.

But in these tough times, the scammers said, they are relying more on a crucial tool: voodoo. At times, Banjo said, he has traveled six hours to the forest, where a magician sells scam-boosters. A $300 powder supposedly helps scammers "speak with authority" when demanding payment. A powder, rubbed on the face, reportedly makes victims viewing the scammer through webcams powerless to say no.

"No matter what, they will pay," said Olumide, a college student, adding that he is boosting his romance scams by wearing a magical, live tortoise hanging from a cord around his neck.

Sometimes, Banjo said, he has so pitied victims that he returned their money. There was Katrina, in Cleveland, who wanted to go to after-Christmas sales. And there was Jimmy.

"Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy," Banjo said over a Red Bull, straining to remember. "Somewhere in Florida? Florida. Yes, Florida."

Jimmy was a truck driver. Banjo was Monica, the American owner of a boutique in Nigeria. The boutique burned down, and Jimmy wired money. Jimmy sent money for Monica's flights to the United States, which she missed three times. Jimmy broke it off after dispatching a total of $25,000, Banjo said, but could not stay away.

"He was still asking, 'Just come home. Just come home, baby,' " Banjo recalled.

Banjo said he wired $1,000 to Jimmy and told him that he had been duped.

"There is another thing scammers always say in Nigeria," Banjo said, "that every day, another maga is born in America."

News items in which Ultrascan or one of its liaisons was quoted. (in various languages)

(Suckers) Victims lost $9.3 billion to 419 scammers in 2009 - ARS Technica

Advance-fee fraud (AFF), also known as 419 scams and Nigerian scams, exploded in 2009, with victims losing more money than ever before. This is according to the latest analysis from Dutch investigation firm Ultrascan—a company that has been monitoring the activities of 419 scammers since 1996—which says that victims lost almost 50 percent more money in 2009 than 2008.

It's hard to believe that people are still falling for advance-fee fraud …

NIGERIA - RELATED FINANCIAL CRIME AND ITS LINKS WITH BRITAIN - CHATHAM HOUSE

Ultrascan, a Netherlands-based consultancy, is one of a small number of organizations that has tried to estimate the number and value of advance fee fraud scams worldwide. In an analysis of dozens of mostly rich countries, it concluded that the total losses to British companies and individuals in 2005 were $520 million, second only to the US at $720 million. It further estimated that 20 scam rings comprising, on average, dozens of members were active in the UK. The survey does not show the ‘complete advance fee fraud situation’: in most cases, its estimates are ‘low’ or ‘extremely low’

Some people argue that foreign countries, including Britain, should make a much bigger effortto gather intelligence on advance fee frauds, as well as other types of Nigeria-related crime. AsUltrascan, the Dutch consultancy, puts it, ‘everyone has a piece of the picture, but no-one has the full picture’.

The 419 Coalition, an anti-scam body, says countries should have a centralized, single place for submission of reports by those targeted by scams.

One Nigerian law enforcement officer warns that it is potentially catastrophic for Britain and other rich nations to ignore these frauds. They are the crude surface manifestation of criminal networks that flourish precisely because people dismiss them as not worthy of serious attention. ‘That was the mistake we made earlier,’ he says. ‘If there is no shift in this position,this problem will become something huge....

Download the full Africa Programme Report

THE CONTEMPORARY FACE OF ORGANISED CRIME IN AUSTRALIA - The Australian Crime Commision

The Australian Crime Commision  - ORGANISED CRIME IN AUSTRALIA - 2011

 .... Advance fee fraud is defined as any fraud requiring a victim to make payment/s in advance of the promised receipt of a large monetary or other material benefit. The extent of advance fee fraud in Australia has continually increased over the past years. There has been a recent increase in the number of advance fee fraud variations observed in Australia, with inheritance, lottery, romance and employment frauds increasing.

The size, sophistication and organisation of foreign-based entities involved in advance fee fraud have increased. Some groups exploit highly complex psychological triggers to target victims. International syndicates are also showing increasing signs of combining advance fee fraud with other offences such as identity crime, counterfeiting and, in some cases, drug trafficking.

It is difficult to accurately assess the total losses caused by advance fee fraud. Victim reporting is limited because of the embarrassment (and, in some cases, fear) attached to reporting such activity. Advance fee fraud losses by companies
and individuals in Australia are likely to be hundreds of millions of dollars.

Globally, victims of advance fee fraud lost an estimated US$9.3 billion in 2009, which is an increase from an estimated US$6.3 billion in 2008. The top three countries for advance fee fraud losses in 2009 were the US (US$2.1 billion), the UK (US$1.2 billion) and the People’s republic of China (US$936 million)....

Download - THE CONTEMPORARY FACE OF ORGANISED CRIME

Worldwide Slump Makes Nigeria's Online Scammers Work That Much Harder - Washington Post

Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations in the Netherlands, which has a special department dedicated to 419 crimes, estimates conservatively that $4.3 billion was lost worldwide to 419 scams in 2007. Countries most victimized are the U.S., U.K. and Japan. Ultrascan's data comes from its own investigations, and it advises that the real figure is likely many times higher.

Online Scammers Work That Much Harder

Famous DJ's Credit Card Details for Sale - PCWorld

Armin Van Buuren is one of the world's most well-known trance music DJs. He also apparently has had his credit card details stolen.

Investigators with Ultrascan, a company that investigates credit card fraud and other kinds of online crime, were doing research on forums and systems used to sell credit card numbers

Catalog of Stolen Data

A potential buyer for stolen credit card details sees a greeting: "Hello welcome to ICQ bot. Press '1' for Russian. Press '2' for English." After pressing "2," users get three selections: "1. Buy CVV, 2. Checker 3. Account," according to a screen shot supplied by Ultrascan.

When CVV is selected, the buyer sees how many credit card details are available, sorted by country. From the screen shot, it was possible to see that some 19,046 U.S. card numbers are for sale, 7,843 from the U.K. and more from other countries such as France, Italy and the Netherlands. .....

Famous DJ Saved from Scam