An international crackdown on Internet financial scams this year has yielded more than $2.1 billion in seized fake checks and 77 arrests in the Netherlands, Nigeria and Canada, U.S. and other authorities said on Wednesday.
The scammers, often West African organized crime groups, use ploys such as “spam” e-mail offering to pay recipients “processing fees” for depositing checks, which later turn out to be phony, and sending the ostensible proceeds to the scammer, authorities said.
The ruses are aided by U.S. financial practices that quickly credit a bank customer for deposits even though it can take far longer to discover a fake check and reclaim the money from the customer. The victims find themselves out the money they forward when the checks prove to be fake.
“Most Americans don’t realize they are financially liable when they fall for these scams,” Susan Grant, vice president of the National Consumers League, said at a news conference to publicize the arrests and promote awareness of the frauds.
The crackdown netted 16 arrests in Nigeria, 60 in the Netherlands and one in Canada, said Greg Campbell, U.S. Postal Inspection Service inspector in charge of global security.