Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A teenager who is a millionaire and a scammer

We have all gotten the emails saying we the long lost relative of some prince and we could get millionaires of dollars to help get the funds released. Most of us are smart enough not to get involved in that.

How about selling something on ebay? Fortune Magazine looks at one boy behind a computer and how he is scamming Americans.

Meet Akin 14 years old is a millionaire and a scammer and lives in Lagos

Akin buys things online - laptops, BlackBerries, cameras, flat-screen TVs - using stolen credit cards and aliases. He has the loot shipped via FedEx or DHL to safe houses in Europe, where it is received by friends, then shipped on to Lagos to be sold on the black market. (He figures Americans are too smart to sell a camera on eBay to a buyer with an address in Nigeria.)

I haven't heard of that one but it is something that is happening over and over at Internet Cafes

And he's not alone: The cafe is crowded most of the time with other teenagers, like Akin, working for a "chairman" who buys the computer time and hires them to extract e-mail addresses and credit card information from the thin air of cyberspace. Akin's chairman, who is computer illiterate, gets a 60 percent cut and reserves another 20 percent to pay off law enforcement officials who come around or teachers who complain when the boys cut school. That still puts plenty of cash in Akin's pocket.

While there is a sign on the door saying not to do this. It is a joke and not enforced.

"The deterrent factor is not there at all," says Thomas Oli, a Lagos lawyer, citing the case of a former police inspector general who was convicted of stealing more than $100 million and got only six months in jail.
"What do you want me to do?" Akin asks in pidgin English, explaining why he turned to a life of Internet crime. "It is my God-given talent. Our politicians, they do their own; me, I'm doing my own. I feed my family - my sister, my mother, my popsie. Man must survive."

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