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Another dating / chat scam - USA/ Nigeria connection


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Last week I got contacted via my profile on a dating web site. The person had a temporary profile only with no picture posted and sent me a one-liner including her yahoo address and she asked me to add her on the yahoo messenger.

I was bored so I fulfilled her request.

Her profile had said she was from Illinois, USA. I live in California. Once we chat on Y! messenger, she says she just left Madrid/ Spain and is in West Africa now.

Supposedly she works for a diamond company which is owned by her step dad. She lives with her daughter since her husband (or kids father, I do not recall) left her after the kid was born. Here are her photos - I am not quite sure that they are really HER photos:

She also tells me that she is on bad terms with her step dad since he asked her for sex. (If that's her real photos, I might ask her for sex also.)
During the chat she was kind of evasive, did not answer my questions but instead asked me questions herself. After about 30 minutes she said she'd have to leave West Africa soon and wants to come to the Bay Area (which is why she had written me) and whether she could stay at my place for a week or two until she had gotten herself a place.

She wanted to see photos of my house (I mailed her two).

During the following week we briefly chatted maybe 3 times. No deep conversation, this woman does not spell well, and obviously does half a dozen chats parallel.

I asked her to visit a web site that I host so that I could trap her IP number. It was

I used two different tools (web sites) to identify the location she was coming from. Most web sites reported this IP as in London, UK. One web site located it as CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI.

If you ever want to do this kind of check, grab the IP number from email headers and use a web site like on it. You need to make your email program or web client display all headers, to see the 'Originating IP'. Yahoo's email client offers this. I do not know about AOL or hotmail.

She claims to be on AOL (which I found strange, does AOL offer service in West Africa?)

Yesterday she started talking how her step-dad does not send the money he is supposed to send. A kind of allowance instead of a paycheck. Don't ask me for an explanation of this concept.

I did not like to hear her talk about bills that she cannot pay. I'm kind of allergic to this talk when I know a person from 60 minutes of chatting only :-)

Anyway, today she asked me directly to Western Union her the money, $750. As I am posting this, I am still chatting with her. A copy of today's chat is below.

(myself): hello?
Joy Johnson: i was unable to get u the number cos the phone network was bad
Joy Johnson: i was thinking of geting my self a foone
(myself): is it worth it when you're leaving soon?
Joy Johnson: No...thats the problem
(myself): can you do me a favor? Click on this?
(myself): and then, what's the prob - you cannot leave?
Joy Johnson: i dont understand this whole thing
(myself): what thing?
Joy Johnson: what u talking about]
Joy Johnson: the webpage
(myself): oh
Joy Johnson: or what?
(myself): i didn't meant that you actually read it 
(myself): i just wanted to see if it loads properly now

(myself): sorry
Joy Johnson: ok
(myself): are you home?
(myself): i mean.. in the hotel
Joy Johnson: hotel
Joy Johnson: yeah.i just wsanted to know if u will be sending me some cash
(myself): how?
Joy Johnson: western union ....u know any western union around u
(myself): and which w.u. are you at?
(myself): do i need a city/ office number?
Joy Johnson: No u dont i will give u the whole infou need
Joy Johnson: you can send the money in the hotels managers name
(myself): well, what's the hotel's name then? and/or the manager's name
(myself): sorry for the huge font
Joy Johnson: Receivers Name:Mercy Gray
Address:12 hotel road.
Zipcode/city code:23401
Western union security question and answer:
Qfavourite colour
Joy Johnson: Receivers Name:Mercy Gray
Address:12 hotel road.
Zipcode/city code:23401
Western union security question and answer:

Qfavourite colour
A: Pink
Joy Johnson: thats the ifo
(myself): ok
Joy Johnson: info
Joy Johnson: do u know western union agent location
(myself): here in my area?
(myself): not from the top of my head
Joy Johnson: u
(myself): i need to look
Joy Johnson: u can give me your address i will find one for u
(myself): don't worry
(myself): i can find it
Joy Johnson: how will u do that
(myself): google
(myself): so how do i know you are really joy johnson
and not just someone making up things?
Joy Johnson: Babe can u just trust me and u see me once i get

to the bay area cos i will foward u my flight info
(myself): how much $ do you need anyway?
Joy Johnson: :$750
(myself): what is the company's name that you work for?
Joy Johnson: i told u yesterday united gemstones.........u dont 
need it to send it ok
Joy Johnson: babe trust me
(myself): oh right, i could not find anything on the web 
about 'united gemstones' either, but they are in Lagos, maybe that helps
Joy Johnson: dont worry just to western union agent location
Joy Johnson: ok
Joy Johnson: what cirt are u in the bay area
(myself): capitola
Joy Johnson: ok.hold
Joy Johnson: is this ur zip code 95010 
Joy Johnson: ???
Joy Johnson: joyee201: is this ur zip code 95010 
joyee201: ???
Joy Johnson: are u there???
(myself): yes
(myself): 95010
Joy Johnson: ok
Joy Johnson: 1475 41ST AVENUE   
Joy Johnson: do u know this address
(myself): Sorry Joy, I just don't believe that you are in 
Lagos, Nigeria. I think you're in London, England
Joy Johnson: peter u r so funny
(myself): and yes, that Western Union on 41st Avenue is only 
a few minutes from me.. what's funny?
Joy Johnson: cos u said i am in england....maybe next year i should 
go to london
Joy Johnson: u mean u have that location close to u
Joy Johnson: ????
(myself): yes, that western union.. maybe a quarter 
mile from my house
(myself): i know it
Joy Johnson: babe i think it will be better u send the money
now because of the time difference
(myself): no way.. you need to give me some reason to believe 
you.. I mean.. I WANT to believe you.. but there's evidence that you
 are not in Nigeria, sorry
(myself): give me one reason that shows me you're  really over 
there and not in the UK or somewhere in the USA
Joy Johnson: the one reason is that am going to pick
 the money up myself
(myself): i need to know a bit more about you
Joy Johnson: u did already......dont be silly peter....dont tell
 me u dont know the first thing about me
Joy Johnson: 
(myself): not really that much.. you've got a daughter, work
 for united gemstones, stepfather is your boss (right?), doesn't 
send you money (allowance instead of paycheck - strange concept),
 you recently came from Barcelona/ Spain to Lagos/ Nigeria
(myself): did i forget anything?
Joy Johnson: No.....what else peter....cant u just trust me for
 .... i will never disappoint u
(myself): why do you stay in Lagos if you don't get paid anyway?
Joy Johnson: i dont stay here,am heree temporary cos my step dad wants
me there......its not want i want,i just have to
Joy Johnson: peter
Joy Johnson: If I ever saw an angel, it was in your eyes
(myself): hm, that's a nice one
(myself): did my eyes reflect and you saw yourself?
(myself): i've got an idea
(myself): is the 750 for the hotel?
Joy Johnson: eah
Joy Johnson: yeah
Joy Johnson: Jede Minute, die ich mit Ihnen aufwende, ist wie Sein im 
Himmel und das Schauen in den Augen eines Engels
Joy Johnson: u know thats the truth
(myself): i could make a credit card payment to that hotel to 
cover your bill
Joy Johnson: no....u cant...cos the whole of 750 is not for the hotel
Joy Johnson: ok....u just have to rush to western union....ok
Joy Johnson: do u have he info writen down
Joy Johnson: ??????
(myself): i cannot leave right now
(myself): i'm waiting for someone
(myself): it's 6:15pm
(myself): they're probably closed already anyway
Joy Johnson: no they close for 7pm....u can just rush ok....peter 
do this for me now
Joy Johnson: ok.....i can get everything cleared tomorrow morning
Joy Johnson: it will only take 7mins or less for western union to 
send the money
(myself): my friend is on the way right now
Joy Johnson: it dosent matter.since u r not going to take more than 
10mins in western union...he can just wait for u
Joy Johnson: PLEASE
Joy Johnson: RITE AID #5966
1475 41ST AVENUE   
Tuesday 8:00am - 9:00pm 
Joy Johnson: u can just rush down and you wont take much time
Joy Johnson: PLEASE
(myself): I know the place, I go there twice a week.. 
(myself): why not a credit card payment?
Joy Johnson: it cant be sent
Joy Johnson: just go ok...for me peter
(myself): what is the $ for if not for the hotel?
Joy Johnson: for the hotel bill ,transportation cost.....
and medical checkup because of the weather here
Joy Johnson: ok.babe just try and go huh
(myself): nah, i don't feel as if i could quite trust 
you yet
Joy Johnson: matbe u will trust me and more about me,as
 soon as i get to the state
Joy Johnson: and peter if u say u dont trust me yet i understand
......but u just have to consider my situation and me myself i
 promise never to let u down
Joy Johnson: Promise
Joy Johnson: are u there???
(myself): yes
(myself): phone
(myself): look
Joy Johnson: look what???
(myself): according to my info you're either in
 Cape Missouri or London
(myself): and you give me absolutely no reason why
 i should believe that you're in lagos

(myself): not even a hotel's name
(myself): or a phone #
Joy Johnson: ay hotels.....manager s # (+234)8053601940
Joy Johnson: +234 country phone  code
Joy Johnson: what about this
Joy Johnson: ???
(myself): yeah?
Joy Johnson: didu get it
(myself): the number is busy
(myself): which room are you in?
Joy Johnson: busy...maybe its the network
Joy Johnson: executive room 1
Joy Johnson: ok
Joy Johnson: did u call d # again
(myself): that number is in Lagos?
Joy Johnson: yeah
(myself): area code is 805 ?
(myself): because i thought Lagos is area code 1
(myself): sweety, you need to improve
Joy Johnson: for landlines i think
Joy Johnson: 01 is for the land lines....the number i 
gave u is a mobile # peter
Joy Johnson: thats why u need the +234 b4 dailing 8053601940
Joy Johnson: ok
Joy Johnson: peter can u tell me whats on your mind
Joy Johnson: cos........its like u dont even want
 to take me for my words
Joy Johnson: Why?
(myself): sorry
Joy Johnson: u not answering me
(myself): my friend was at the door
(myself): joy i need to go now
(myself): i cannot call that number again, my friend and i are going out
Joy Johnson: ok
(myself): i'll try in a few hours when i'm back
Joy Johnson: ok
(myself): see, i need to verify that what you tell me
 is true.. ideally also that you are really that hot chick in 
those photos, but that's probably impossible to prove
Joy Johnson: lol......why not
(myself): hm, can you mail another photo of yourself?
Joy Johnson: believe me or noy ,its joy in the pic
(myself): well, are YOU Joy then?
Joy Johnson: i will............will u send on ur way back
(myself): bye-bye
Joy Johnson: bye-bye

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2006-02-13, 05:35:46
anonymous from United States  
Here is another one to keep an eye out for:

She uses the yahoo address of:
becky raymond []

Same as all the rest. Broken english, lost father in accident, went back to Nigeria with sick mother. etc .etc.
2006-02-16, 13:07:51
[hidden] from United States  
Hi guys, all these mails 2 u r scams. U pple needs 2 be very careful & vilgilant. In nigeria we called them 419. They r pple that dont want 2 work but like 2 livewa easy life by doping pple of their hard earn money. Any time u receive a mail or chat with anybody that sweet tonuge that he/she love u is a lie, just ignore d person. Dont fal into their trap.
2006-02-25, 20:39:12  
Am real and i really find so much impress and when i see that its really imaginable and i couldn't get myself for a couple of seconds and am such a nice person who raelly need to meet people outside the world and to communicate with them about how things will be success and to love who i meet in the site cuz am real and if you will trying me you can do figure something out about me and for me to show myself to you,you can easily join my palace of love and belongings now...Hope to hear well from you soon...
2006-03-01, 23:29:22 from United States  
Hi everyone, I am currently talking to a very attrative man who claims to be from Lexington, VA but stuck in Nigeria. He has sent me $8,000.00 in travelers checks which were a fraud. Thank goodness I checked it out before I cashed them. When I asked him about these bad checks he became very upset and said they were from his debtors and he could not believe they were bad. The checks were actually mailed from Ohio. I decided to continue talking to him, hoping that there was some chance he was real. Ater a while he told me that he had been robbed and beaten and required knee surgery he had no money because his work (which was contracted through Shell Oil) was over. He says he cannot leave lagos until all his debts are paid. He has asked me for $500.00, which I told him no. He has sent me flowers, chocolates and teddy bears twice. Now he is saying that his debtors are going to call me and send me a check to cash so I can send him the money to pay the debts and come home. I met him on so I had my cousin show interest in him to see what he would ask of her and so far there has been nothing. Ofcourse she is not online at the same times that he is. I have spoke to him on the phone and he is very hard to hear and its hard to catch an accent. I checked with the phone co. and it is a Nigerian #. Just to hear his respones I offered him a plane ticket purchased with a credit card knowing he could not return the ticket for cash. He refused it saying they would not allow him to leave Lagos until his debts are paid. I know this is a scam but in my heart I want to believe it is not. I will continue to talk to him until I can prove who he is or until he realizes he is not getting a dime from me. He calls himself Eddie Smith his email is edd_yank04. I also found he has 2 profiles on If there is anyone out there who knows anything about this guy or has spoke to him please contact me. I will be glad to send you a picture of him, and if I knew how I would post it here. Thanks
2006-03-06, 01:29:25
anonymous from United Kingdom  
Hi everyone, and especially to Kim and Eddie Smith...... Kim I completely understand how you feel about Eddie he is one of the most special people I have ever met on here and I have been talking to him for some months now.......everything he told you is a complete and utter lie !!! because he has told so many other people the same thing & he is in love with all of them. The picture is fake and so is he.....He has scammed thousands of pounds from girls all around the world and in particular in the US even leaving people scared that they will not be able to pay their bills or put a roof over their childrens heads..... and as far as his care and concern !!! only to get more money from you....check out this story in the Sun Sentinel of Florida posted on the 23rd December and you will see the man you thought loved you is just one more successful scam artist..... http://www.sun-sent..headlines
.... I know it hurts but believe me its better to know the truth now than to end up in prison which is what his next plan would be for you !!!!!!! and as for you Eddie............WATCH THIS SPACE !!!!! you are NOT invincible.
2006-03-06, 11:14:30
anonymous from United States  
Thank you anonymous for the article on Eddie Smith. I really needed to see that. He is in fact a scam artist and a very good one at that. My story and the article are identical, Except I didnt cash his checks. Hopefully more people will see this and be on the alert for Eddie and his scam.
2006-03-08, 11:11:40
anonymous from United Kingdom  
Hi Eddie my love ........thanks for making me are the best !!!!!!! If anyone wants to meet me feel chat id is miri20pc @ yahoo. See you there.
2006-03-20, 13:18:34
anonymous from United States  
Anyone ever been contacted by a Dr. Alan Z. Peters?
2006-04-02, 18:29:32
anonymous from Nigeria  
It might interest you all to know that the scams you described here is affecting many thousands of people all over the United States and other Western Countries.
Milions of dollars are being lost monthly,and lives are being devastated emotionally.If you met with the people who have experienced this scam, you would feel sorry for them.
And in truth, only a few people out of those who have been scammed ever own up to the bad experience.Most of them choose to keep quiet about their losses.
I was able to get a lot of information about this scam and it's effects from a site . you might wantto see what youcan learn there too.

2006-04-05, 17:36:19
anonymous from United States  
I can't find the article referenced above in the sun sentinel. Could someone tell me what screenname Eddie uses? or where I can see a pic?
2006-04-06, 06:58:23
anonymous from United States  
CHATROOM `FRIEND' TAKES ALL MOTHER HAS NIGERIAN SCHEME IS ALL TOO COMMON, FRAUD OFFICIALS SAY. [Broward Metro Edition] South Florida Sun - Sentinel - Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Author: Ian Katz Business Writer Date: Dec 23, 2005 Start Page: 1.A Section: LOCAL Text Word Count: 1352 Document Text (Copyright 2005 by the Sun-Sentinel)

For Gerri Tennenbaum, it was a 'vulnerable moment' when she trusted someone she thought of as a friend. Now, the victim of an elaborate counterfeiting scheme, she might be out $9,200, her rental apartment and any hope of getting Hanukkah gifts for her two children.
A divorced schoolteacher struggling to raise her 9- and 12-year- old boys -- both of whom are mildly autistic -- Tennenbaum was feeling frazzled in early November by eight days without electricity after Hurricane Wilma.
She had been chatting online several nights a week for two months with a man who called himself Eddie Smith, a U.S. citizen working as a geologist and computer engineer in Nigeria. They met through a dating site and communicated via Yahoo's instant messenger service about work, life and the possibility of eventually meeting in person.
On Nov. 2, near the end of a long chat, Smith asked Tennenbaum what seemed to her a simple favor: If he sent some traveler's checks and money orders that he couldn't cash in Nigeria, could she deposit them into her bank account and send him the cash through Western Union? She obliged, figuring MasterCard traveler's checks and U.S. Postal Service money orders must be safe.
What she didn't know is that Smith, which is probably not his real name, was cleverly manipulating her for his gain.
It was an example of an increasingly common scheme in which Nigerian fraudsters befriend people in dating sites and chat rooms, and persuade them to send cash in exchange for money orders or traveler's checks that turn out to be fake. When the victims learn that the checks are phony, it's too late, and thousands of dollars have already been sent to the 'friend.'
Tennenbaum's bank, Citibank, told her that the $9,200 in checks and money orders she exchanged there were counterfeit and that she is responsible for repaying the bank.
'I have nothing,' said Tennenbaum, 44, who teaches second grade at Mirror Lake Elementary in Plantation. 'I'm a smart person, but I had a vulnerable moment and got suckered. I thought I was doing somebody a favor.'
Tennenbaum was unable to pay her $930 monthly rent at Del Oro Apartments in Plantation on time and received a note from the manager that she could be evicted. 'Every time I come home, I peek around the corner to see if there is a notice on my door,' she said.
Through tears, she added: 'I feel like I didn't do my job as a parent because I got sucked in.'
To buy groceries, she borrowed $100 from a friend. And though Tennenbaum has explained what happened to her sons, they haven't grasped the implications. 'They still have a list of things they want for Hanukkah,' she said. 'A Gameboy, I think a flywheel, other stuff.'
To recoup its losses, Citibank took a direct-deposit paycheck and other money in her account totaling $1,788, she said. Though she admits she shouldn't have been so trusting, Tennenbaum also blames the bank for not recognizing that the money orders and traveler's checks she cashed were fakes. 'I'm holding the bag for something the bank should have caught,' she said. Eight days passed before she could see from her account that the checks were not valid, she said.
In an e-mail, Citibank spokesman Mark Rodgers wrote: 'It is unfortunate that Ms. Tennenbaum was defrauded. However, customers are liable for the soundness of checks and other instruments that they deposit.' If a check is counterfeit, 'it is the customer, not the bank, who is responsible,' he said.
Similarly, depositors must repay U.S. banks if they unwittingly deposit counterfeit currency, such as $100 bills.
Rodgers said Citibank requires 'no specific actions' for tellers accepting money orders or traveler's checks. 'Of course, if something appears to be suspicious, we notify the appropriate fraud unit for an investigation.' He confirmed that the bank takes funds from an account if the customer owes the bank money.
Tennenbaum's ordeal started when she met Smith on an online dating site. She said she has been on 'a couple' of sites, but doesn't recall in which one she met Smith.
Their chats -- they never spoke on the phone -- were usually mundane. She often told Smith about her tough schedule. In addition to her job at Mirror Lake, she tutors on the side and teaches Judaic studies twice a week at Congregation B'nai Israel in Boca Raton. He chatted vaguely about his work and his desire to start a business in oil marketing.
In retrospect, Tennenbaum said, Smith's evasiveness about his business could have alerted her that something was amiss.
At times the chats had romantic overtones. Smith sometimes said he loved her, but she didn't return those sentiments. Though the two exchanged photos via e-mail, Tennenbaum now suspects that Smith's were actually photos of a model he took from the Internet. He talked of moving from Nigeria to the United States, and the two discussed the idea of meeting in person.
Any offer from Nigeria should raise a red flag, said Allen Lowe, an expert on Nigerian fraud and assistant to the special agent in charge at the U.S. Secret Service Miami field office. 'We don't consider all Nigerians to be bad or crooks,' but the Internet is teeming with Nigerian fraudsters, he said.
Typically, they send an unsolicited e-mail promising to pay the recipient millions of dollars in exchange for parking a larger amount of money in a U.S. bank account. In these so-called advance- fee scams, the victim is told to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars before getting the big payout.
But in Tennenbaum's case, greed was not a factor. In fact, Smith worked for two months to gain Tennenbaum's trust before typing: 'can u help me cash money orders baby.'
That might seem a long time to lure in one victim, but cyber crime experts say fraudsters typically work on several potential victims at a time.
Catching Smith or foreign fraudsters overseas is extremely difficult, in part because they never give their real names, Lowe said. Furthermore, he said, funds sent via Western Union are harder to track than money wired into a bank account because recipients can pick it up at any Western Union branch in that country.
Cybercrime experts like Lowe say victims are often intelligent and well-educated. That's little consolation to Tennenbaum, who has Florida certification in elementary, early and primary education, and in English as a second language.
'I'm not sleeping at all,' she said. 'I am constantly stressed.' By keeping her busy, teaching has become her island of sanity.
'When I think about it, I feel like this is happening to someone else,' she said. 'You read about stories like this and you think it can't happen to you.
'It's embarrassing,' she said, looking down while fidgeting in her chair. 'But I'm a survivor. I'll get up, brush myself off, and move on. My kids need me.'
And then she began to sob.

How to protect yourself from using counterfeit money orders or traveler's checks:
Do not accept money orders or traveler's checks from parties other than financial institutions or others authorized to issue them, such as the U.S. Postal Service.
Be wary of offers from e-mailers in Nigeria, where many linked to fraud are based.
Look for telltale signs of legitimacy. For example, U.S. Postal Service money orders have a watermark of Benjamin Franklin that can be seen when held up to light. Most traveler's checks have a raised texture.
If you have any misgivings about the legitimacy of a traveler's check or money order, ask the bank to take a close look at it.

2006-04-06, 07:01:30
anonymous from United States  
another picture of so called Eddie Smith

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