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What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 09:48:56


Farah♦ 
Level 60
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For the past two months, I've been looking into a fairly big scammers' network. They operate in the Netherlands, but they launder the money in Belgium and possibly Romania. Here's the story and a question.

It started when i saw an ad for a €600 laptop:


This ad is obviously a scam. The actual price of this thing is over €3500. The ad says they have a store and they're closing it. Therefore they try to get rid of the inventory and they're selling cheap. The problem is, i know this store and i know the owner. And i know the store doesn't sell laptops or anything else that they were advertising.
So what do you do? I contacted the owner of the store to tell her she was being used as a proxy-address for cyberscammers. And i contacted the scammer to see what i could find out. That's where it gets interesting. The first time i tried to contact him, he didn't want anything to do with me. The ads started disappearing so that was a loose end. But three days later, they started appearing again. Different store, different bank account, different name. So i contacted them again and got their IBAN; their bank account number. I kept doing this for a while and at some point i had 8 different bank accounts. I transferred them all one cent with the message: 'You're doing cybercrime, i know who you are, mail me at w**********@gmail.com'

Four people replied.

The first scammer went to the police and took a lawyer.
The second scammer says she's already quit the whole thing, but i never heard anything else from her.
The third scammer starts threatening me, telling me he knows my name and he'll figure out where i live. He doesn't know my name. He also sends a picture of about €2300 in cash with a middlefinger:

The last scammer replies with something way more interesting:
He tells me how he got into it, how much money he makes and best of all, he tells me where the money is going.
So here's how they work:

- The find people on another dutch site with sex-ads. They find people with generally low IQ's and either debts or money needs there.
- They offer them to scam people online, giving them all the resources and helping them.
- The people that do the actual scamming are getting about €3000 per week. They can keep 10% of the money netting them €300 a week.
- The rest of the money goes to a Belgian bank account, on the name of a woman. He sent me a complete copy of her passport.
- In Belgium, the money is transferred to multiple accounts abroad. There they buy bitcoins with them.
- They've been doing this since at least 2016

So there's a woman that gets a lot of money on a bank account in Belgium and she sent her passport. That probably means she's victim of identity theft. So it was time to look for this woman. But that took a while. For a month I'd been searching for her with no luck. The phone number i found wasn't answering, the e-mail i found wasn't either. After making a lot of calls to different people that may know her, finally someone came with useful information. This woman is mentally handicapped. I called her healthcare facility and after three days of mailing them and trying to convince them, they helped this woman out. I got a call from her mentor, telling me that she isn't sure whether she wants to contact me or not. A day later i got a call from the police. They want me to put everything I've found in a file and they'll start researching.

The big question is, what to do next? The ads are still showing up every once in a while. I called the banks of all the scammers already, advising them to block the accounts. But they keep opening new accounts and this woman is probably not the only victim of identity theft. And if they abuse mentally handicapped people, that's pretty sick.

Edited 8/31/2018 14:18:27
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 12:00:44


psykkoman
Level 58
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Edited 8/31/2018 12:02:48
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 12:34:52


Rikku 
Level 61
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Facinating story. :o
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 14:42:37


Venus Angelic
Level 56
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Fascinating story and you're amazing and very brave to invest so much time and work on such a pressing and difficult issue. These scammers seem to be very successful, so I'd imagine there are a lot of other scamming companies working underground that have been doing it for many years, without ever having faced consequences. Problem is, if these scammers who get busted keep on coming back with new accounts, it feels like a game of whack a mole.
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 15:04:54


Min34 
Level 60
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Cooperate with the police and give them what they need. Its generally not adviced to take matters into your own hands.

Do you know exactly what the scams are and if they only do this or different types as well.
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 16:03:16


knyte 
Level 58
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Become Batman and hunt these people down.
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 16:58:50


Farah♦ 
Level 60
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Fascinating story and you're amazing and very brave to invest so much time and work on such a pressing and difficult issue.

Thanks for the kind words, but i keep the time invested low. I've written a script that informs me whenever one of their specific ads (they use a template) pops up. It's also not a difficult and pressing issue for me. I rolled into this by accident and i intent to do something about it. Nothing more.

Problem is, if these scammers who get busted keep on coming back with new accounts, it feels like a game of whack a mole.

That is where the problem is indeed. But now that I've found this woman, she could maybe tell me what happened. There is a clear hierarchy, a chain if you will, to this group. The lowest level are the people that do the actual scamming. Then there's the moneymules whose identities got stolen and are laundering money to other countries for as long as the bank lets them. This woman is the highest link in the chain I've found and she could lead to a higher one.

Cooperate with the police and give them what they need. Its generally not adviced to take matters into your own hands.


Of course I'll cooperate with the police. The problem is, as they've indicated, that the money goes beyond the border. If that's the case, then they can't do much, so I'm looking at presenting something to the Belgian police. I'm not taking matters into my own hands, other than trying to contact anyone involved. Nobody's going to show up at my doorstep and kill me, don't worry ;)

Do you know exactly what the scams are and if they only do this or different types as well.

From some back-of-the-envelope calculations, i'm fairly sure that this is the way the operate. If we take Barry S.'s words for his €3000 per week and we have an average of four scammers active each time and assume that about 25% of scammed people actually respond to a forum thread online, the numbers work out. Which i think are reasonable assumptions.
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 20:17:58


Xenophon 
Level 61
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You're my hero. I think Fizzer should give you a trophy.
- downvoted post by Wulfhere
What to do with this scammers network?: 8/31/2018 20:38:52


Nate Kenobi 
Level 41
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I bet these scammers make a KILLING on drunk housewives. Buy it for your grandson!!
What to do with this scammers network?: 9/1/2018 00:08:53


MrTrolldemort 
Level 57
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Detective Farah is on the case ;)

To be serious though, it sounds like the next step is probably just finding the address of these people. Of course, that's probably what the police are already doing. After they get caught they will probably be sent to prison or pay a fine and that should settle it.

The other thing is that you mentioned only 4 people replied out of the 8 bank accounts you messaged. Perhaps these other 4 have some sort of info that you can do to help fill in the rest. And something tells me there is perhaps a ringleader who managed to find all of these people to start this whole scam in the first place. Also, you mentioned Romania is another spot they're operating in. Perhaps there is something there that can help.

Anyways, sounds pretty daunting for one person to handle (unless you're batman) but you did a great job Farah. I don't think that many people would have been able to accomplish so much work as you did essentially on their own. You have my respect.
What to do with this scammers network?: 9/3/2018 18:41:26


MilkyWay90
Level 52
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Batsman confirmed
What to do with this scammers network?: 9/3/2018 20:31:34


Venus Angelic
Level 56
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why do so many ppl shitpost on serious threads
- downvoted post by Wulfhere
What to do with this scammers network?: 9/3/2018 20:53:01


Farah♦ 
Level 60
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Small update for anyone who's interested: I found another person who served as moneymule. I spent a few hours tracking her down, but i can't find her. The backstory that developed around her was rather sad though; she's in severe debt, her family refuses to see her anymore and she got kicked out of her mother's house. She also has a history with psychosis.
- downvoted post by Wulfhere
What to do with this scammers network?: 9/3/2018 22:02:00


Nate Kenobi 
Level 41
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Master Farah, if you need me to do anything let me know.
- downvoted post by Wulfhere
What to do with this scammers network?: 9/5/2018 00:09:58


MilkyWay90
Level 52
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The Furious Logan (a known troll around the forums), inspired me to post in a bad way.
What to do with this scammers network?: 9/5/2018 10:27:29


Min34 
Level 60
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