47

My father has been talking to a girl who calls herself Linda Owusu. She claims to be from Germany and living in the US away from her son. She recently found out that her father has left her with a large sum of gold that was left into a company that she has to pay the fee that the father promised the company that would be paid upon the retrieval of the bars of gold.

She claims she is now in Ghana and cannot come back to the states until she gets up the money to get the bars out. She knows he has no money so I'm not sure what her game is just yet. I decided to google her name finding a picture of her on the search. It wasn't a picture of Linda but of a Canadian named Josie Ann Miller.

I showed my father and he was initially shocked and upon confronting her she apologizes for lying to him about hiding that she was actually a porn star under the name of Josie. Now she somehow has found an investor to get the gold out but needs to deposit it into my father's account (remember he has$ 0.00 in the account).

She wants him to send it back to the company holding the gold so she can bring it back. I cannot figure out how she is scamming him but I am 99% sure that this is a scam.

119

Of course, it is a scam. Regardless of how the scam might work, you already know that the person on the other end is lying, and you also know that people in trouble don't contact perfect strangers out of the blue by e-mail for help, nor do they call up random phone numbers looking for help.

Scammers prey on the gullibility, greed, and sometimes generosity of the victims.

As to how this scam works, the money that the scammer would be depositing into your father's account is not real. However, it will take the bank a few days to figure that out. In the mean time, your father will be sending out real money back to the scammer. When the bank figures out what is going on, they will want your father to pay back this money.

  • 51
    It has been said elsewhere in this site: "If someone sends you money, they can cancel/revert the transfer. If you send someone money, that money is gone for good." Not with this wording, but my search came empty. If someone has a link, please do. – Mindwin Mar 6 '17 at 17:48
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    Am I the only one thinking that banks should really step up here? If they were enforcing that they only accept deposits that are valid, then a whole line of scam would fall away. – Matthieu M. Mar 7 '17 at 9:30
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    @MatthieuM. that rule would delay legitimate payments significantly, and those form the bulk of the volume. – John Dvorak Mar 7 '17 at 10:36
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    @MatthieuM. Scammers don't use their own accounts; they send money from other people's accounts. The retraction is because of fraud. – Ben Miller Mar 7 '17 at 14:15
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    @MatthieuM. I think it is more that your bank, as a service to you, makes the money available early in the process. If the originating bank sat on every transaction until they could actively and positively confirm it was not fraudulent and was properly covered, it would be very expensive and slow financial traffic to a crawl. Imagine running a webshop where every payment took two weeks to be received and you had to reserve full funds two weeks ahead of time to purchase new inventory. – Eric Mar 7 '17 at 17:53
51

It used to be Nigerian royalty, now it's Ghanaian porn stars. Great.

This is a bog-standard 419 scam. It's probably the most lucrative single swindle in the world. It's always hard to get people to believe they have been tricked, but don't let your dad participate.

44

The reason this sort of question gets asked over and over again is because it's initially difficult to comprehend how you can possibly be scammed if you have no money in your bank account. Perhaps this would make it easier to understand:

Someone approaches you in the parking lot of a mall and says,

Excuse me, complete stranger, please take this $100 bill and go buy me a pair of $50 shoes at the shoe store. Then go buy whatever you'd like with the rest of the money.

Sounds like a good deal, right? The $100 bill is counterfeit. If it were not, the person would buy the shoes themselves. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

  • 2
    Sorry if I am missing something, but the story about the shoes doesn't make it any easier for me to understand how someone could be scammed who has no money in their bank account. – jwg Mar 7 '17 at 12:00
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    @jwg Ben Miller's answer explains it in the last paragraph. – jmn Mar 7 '17 at 12:22
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    @jwg After you give the shoes away, the store owner comes to you and demands $50 from you, because you didn't pay for the shoes with real money. – Ben Miller Mar 7 '17 at 16:28
  • @BenMiller: The analogy breaks down quite quickly because if the store owner accepted the money at the point of transaction, they can't come running after you later demanding a new/replacement payment. If nothing else, they'd have no way of demonstrating that they weren't scamming you! It's the reverse of the "check your change before you leave the till area" rule. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 20 '17 at 12:52
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    @WeckarE. - you're correct, but that's how the scam works. They put fake money into your bank account and hope you give some of it back to them. If someone decides to keep the fake money, the scammer hasn't lost anything, so they can try this on hundreds of people at no cost and benefit from the "good nature" of the few people who fall for it. (Like handing out many fake $100 bills and hoping a couple of people buy them shoes.) – TTT Dec 14 '17 at 19:44
43

It's a scam.

Here's someone who paid "Josie" 2000 pounds and lost it all

Here's a Google search result list of how this softcore porn actor, Josie Ann Miller, is being used as the face and name of scams

  • This looks like it should be accepted as the answer. The hard part now is ensuring that dad doesn't say "but it's different this time" when the next one comes along – Mawg Mar 7 '17 at 8:37
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    @Mawg Unfortunately, I think that mindset ("different this time") is exactly what makes a person vulnerable to such scams... – gef05 Mar 7 '17 at 8:49
  • If that link is NSFW you should say so. (I haven't clicked because it's not clear if it is or not.) – Wildcard Mar 8 '17 at 0:48
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    @Wildcard It doesn't say nsfw because its not :) go ahead and read it. I'm at work too, it seems to be a forum called scamwarners. – EpicKip Mar 8 '17 at 9:15
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    @Wildcard The original link posted was NSFW, with a warning. The link is now a Google search result, so the warning has been removed. (FYI, some of the results on that search are NSFW.) – Ben Miller Mar 8 '17 at 14:13
14

Yes, this is a scam. Tell your dad not to pay any money.

There will likely be a large deposit in his account, but if he withdraws the money from his account, the bank will come after him looking for the money when the transfer to his account is reversed.

9

So Linda/Josie's initial plan was to have your dad pay money to (supposedly) help her get the gold chest. After he would have paid, there would have been another complication, and more yet (someone to bribe, a plane ticket to buy, transport to arrange, customs to handle, whatever, the list would last as long as there's money to take). Even if he does not have much money, the appeal of his share of the treasure could have been enough to tempt him to spend money he can't, or borrow, etc.

Once "she" found out that he doesn't have any money and/or is apparently not willing to send any, "she" switched to a different scam: she would send him a large check, have him deposit it on his bank account, transfer most of the money (minus his generous share) to "her". Once the money is irreversibly transferred, the check will bounce. End result: 0 in the account before the transaction, minus a lot afterwards.

It's quite simple: if an e-mail from a perfect stranger includes any of the following keywords, it's a scam:

  • gold
  • million
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • share
  • get out of the country
  • widow
  • deceased
  • inheritance
  • 9
    “if an e-mail from a perfect stranger includes any of the following keywords, it's a scam” Like: “Hi there, this is John from Nigeria. I just wanted to say that I loved your latest blog post about kittens and I told all my friends from Ghana to share it on Facebook. It deserves a million visits, those pictures are gold. Have a nice day!” :P Here's why designing spam filters is hard. :) – Andrea Lazzarotto Mar 7 '17 at 19:50
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    But the OP's dad is not getting e-mails from a perfect stranger; he is getting e-mails from his good friend Linda with whom he has been corresponding for quite a while! That's why such scams work; the naive and gullible mark would rather trust his good friend Linda rather than his daughter who bosses him around and "calls bullshit on this" as the OP wrote initially. – Dilip Sarwate Mar 7 '17 at 20:50
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    You can add "porn star" to that list. – Ben Miller Mar 7 '17 at 21:57
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    @BenMiller I'm 90% sure you don't even need 'star'. I've never gotten a legitimate email with the word "porn" in it. – Delioth Mar 9 '17 at 22:36
4

Sadly, people with millions of dollars rarely give it away to complete strangers that they found at random on the Internet in exchange for trivial efforts. Anyone who claims to be willing to give you millions of dollars for just about nothing in return is almost certainly pulling a scam. It doesn't matter if you can't figure out how they're going to cheat you. They have plan.

Just because your father has no money doesn't mean he can't be robbed. The scammer is almost surely planning to move some money around, and leave your father with a debt that he will be legally obligated to pay. She'll then take off with the money. (Of course you figured out that the picture is fake. It may not even be a pretty young girl -- that may well just be a persona the scammer created to appeal to your father. It might really be a fat, balding old man.)

Your father would be smarter to sit in his back yard and wait for money to fall from the sky.

0

The scammer is definitely up to something fishy. He (it's certain that the she is a he) may deposit some money into your father's account to gain his trust. After which, he will propose to come meet your dad. That's where the scamming begins. He will come up with a story about flight, VISA issues, or a problem he has to solve before coming over.

Another is that he can use your dad's empty account to receive monies he scammed off people. That way there's no direct link with him and his other victim.

  • 2
    "He (it's certain that the she is a he)" No it's not. Women are capable of [mis]using the internet also. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 20 '17 at 12:54

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protected by Nathan L Mar 10 '17 at 21:28

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