Nigerian scammers have decided to skip the middleman and go straight to the bank. According to the NY Times, the scammers convinced the sharp minds at Citibank that they represented the National Bank of Ethiopia. The bank duly wired $27 million to the scammers. Citibank only became aware of the fraud when the folks from Ethiopia noticed some unauthorized withdrawals and some of the recipient banks weren’t able to process the transactions.
Citi has refunded the money to Ethiopia–not a hard thing for them to do since they aren’t lending the billions in taxpayer bailout funds they have received.
From the Times:
Swindles in which someone overseas seeks access to a person’s bank account are so well known that most potential victims can spot them in seconds.
But one man found success by tweaking the formula, prosecutors say: Rather than trying to dupe an account holder into giving up information, he duped the bank. And instead of swindling a person, he tried to rob a country—of $27 million.
To carry out the elaborate scheme, prosecutors in New York said on Friday, the man, identified as Paul Gabriel Amos, 37, a Nigerian citizen who lived in Singapore, worked with others to create official-looking documents that instructed Citibank to wire the money in two dozen transactions to accounts that Mr. Amos and the others controlled around the world.
The money came from a Citibank account in New York held by the National Bank of Ethiopia, that country’s central bank. Prosecutors said the conspirators, contacted by Citibank to verify the transactions, posed as Ethiopian bank officials and approved the transfers.
Read the full story here.