Taiwan & Malaysia team up to uncover Nigeria investment fraud

TAIPEI - The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), allied with Malaysian Police, uncovered an investment fraud scheme yesterday which they dubbed "Nigeria 419." Police stated that victims of the scheme were mostly educated intellectuals, and the highest single loss approached NT$10 million (S$422,000).

The international department of the CIB indicated that a woman surnamed Lee last year met a man on the Internet who claimed to be an engineer working for a petrol company in Malaysia. The man then lured Lee into making international investments and becoming a partner in his plan, then used excuses such as project funding and transaction failures to fool Lee into wiring more money.

According to the police, the individuals behind "Nigeria 419" usually disguised themselves as white-collar intellectuals of good credit and English, Irish or European background in order to earn the trust of their eventual victims.

The fraud corporation used numbers with UK or Malaysia country codes to lend a facade of credibility, then, after their victims were thoroughly fooled, the plotters took advantage of their sympathy to extort money.

At first, the criminals would claim familiarity with different investments, then proceed to talk the victims into investing money by telling them they would reap high profits.

The corporation would then claim that they sent packages containing high-value merchandise or jewelry that were seized while passing through Malaysian customs, asking the victims to wire large amounts of money for customs taxes in order to receive the merchandise.

The police also said that the fraud scheme would also use excuses such as investment failure or customs seizure to ask for more financial support. Another scheme used was a promise to transfer properties under victims' names provided that the targets of the scheme remit taxes on the basis of their royal status or South African heritage.

The perpetrators legitimated themselves by discussing marriage at the start of their relationships with the victims, then used inappropriate photos of their victims as threats in order to extort money.