Bankers issue warning about fraudulent Internet messages

Costa Rican bankers are issuing a warning about Nigerian Internet fraud. At the same time, fraudsters have contacted A.M. Costa Rica again with the goal of placing a display advertisement.

The Comisión de Seguridad Bancaria said Wednesday that fraudulent emails have been hitting inboxes of Costa Ricans.

The commission correctly pointed out that highly professional gangs of Internet crooks operate out of the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leon, Benin and South Africa, as well as Nigeria. And, the commission noted, they maintain telephone and fax contacts in major European cities.

The scamsters have a number of fraudulent proposals, but all have the goal of getting the email recipient to send money.

About the same time the country’s banking security commission was issuing the warning, an email arrived from a person who identified himself as Mary O’Halloran.

That name is an alias for real Nigerians located in Lagos. They were the subject of an A.M. Costa Rica series of news stories when they tricked The Tico Times into running full page advertisements for electronic gear. Typically the scammers pay for their advertisements with stolen credit cards.

“We want you to give us your advert rate for half page of your paper for 1 week in your newspaper and website. We await the advert rate. Asap,” said the email.

The  Mary O’Halloran name turned up repeatedly in fake employment ads placed all over the world during the course of A.M. Costa Rica’s August investigation of The Tico Times ad.

Eventually the weekly newspaper issued an apology to readers and credited A.M. Costa Rica for alerting the public to the scam that probably cost the print publication thousands of lost advertising dollars.

A.M. Costa Rica was able to track down the scamster, self identified as  Billy Kasht, because the Internet numbers on emails led directly back to Lagos, Nigeria. The scamsters had tried to place an ad in this publication too.

But the latest email uses either a private Internet address or a fake one. This particular group of scammers simply accepts money from would-be purchasers and never delivers the goods.

They give the impression that they are located in London, England.

The Costa Rican banking security commission did not say what had prompted the warning, but there has been a flood of scam emails during the last month, perhaps due to world economic pressures hurting the scamsters.

The bankers note that the emails offer inheritances, money laundering schemes and the long-successful lottery winnings.

The bankers suggested that individuals simply delete the scamster messages.

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