Joined: 05 June 2005
Net fraud with billion bait
Hyderabad, Dec. 2: Two Delhi-based Nigerians duped a schoolmistress out of Rs 35 lakh with an email telling her she had won nearly Rs 4,000 crore in an international lottery.
The well-to-do victim from Hyderabad, who had never bought any such lottery ticket, sold her landholdings and paid up in her eagerness to bag the promised $1 billion.
She was told that processing the transfer of the prize money to her Hyderabad bank account would require Rs 2 lakh. The remaining Rs 33 lakh — to be donated to an African AIDS campaign — would earn her "goodwill" from international financial institutions and help avoid deductions, the fraudsters said.
Valentine, 24, and Augustine, 35, were arrested in Delhi and brought to Hyderabad today.
R.S. Pravin Kumar, deputy commissioner of police, indirectly criticised the 28-year-old schoolteacher, too, as he asked Internet and mobile users to be careful in dealing with strangers and to eschew "greed".
Officers said three similar cases had been reported in Hyderabad, with the victims handing over sums of Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3.45 lakh and Rs 1.75 lakh to cheats in Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai.
Kumar said that sometimes victims are led by the belief that "Balaji or Sai Baba has brought them prosperity".
The email had asked the teacher to write back to Augustine giving her complete bio-data with address, contact numbers and photograph. They asked if she could come over to the UK to collect the money.
Officers said the duo then got a woman accomplice to talk to her on the phone. When the victim asked for the credentials of the AIDS charities, she was forwarded emails from purported humanitarian organisations in Nigerian capital Abuja, London, Johannesburg and Hong Kong. She then deposited the money in an international bank through demand drafts.
"Her greed drove her on. She told neither the police nor her family," Kumar said. "(She thought) $1 billion is given away just like that, without buying a ticket or without any advertisement of the lottery, which had no address or registration."
The last call came in November, when the accused acknowledged receiving the deposits and said disturbances in the dollar market would delay payment of the prize money by 10 days.
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