Scam-baiting Case study: The Scammer in the refugee camp (Part 1)

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Scam-baiting Case study: The Scammer in the refugee camp (Part 1)

“Scam baiting is a form of internet vigilantism, where the vigilante poses as a potential victim to the scammer in order to waste their time and resources, gather information that will be of use to authorities and publicly expose the scammer” – Wikipedia.

That is exactly one of the things I have been doing as Online President. I waste scammers’ time with the single goal that, any second wasted on me is a second not wasted on a potential victim.

It is my hope that, by the end of this series, readers will have a general formula to detect and rubbish all types of scam.

My experience

The first mail I received was a long one. I have reproduced the key points below, so we can have a good background for the entire series.

My name is Miss Wendy Kipkalya Kones, 21yrs old female and I held from Kenya in East Africa. My father was the former Kenyan road Minister. He and Assistant Minister of Home Affairs Lorna Laboso had been on board the Cessna 210, which was headed to Kericho and crashed in a remote area called Kajong, in western Kenya.

The mail then continued on how she escaped abuse of her step mother, how she found herself at the refugee camp in Ouagadougou and how she found her father’s hidden document that proved her as next of kin to a huge amount of money her father deposited in a bank.

The email ended with the following statement:

I am in search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. It is my intention to compensate you with 30% of the total money for your services…. I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely…

Without hesitation, I agreed to be her trustee and that is how the whole show started.

First, she tried to establish trust by proving her identity and I also pretended I am genuine by providing my identity. Figure 1 is a copy of the document she sent me.

Figure 1: Copy of Wendy’s ID card

She also asked for my details (name, date of birth, residential address, mobile number, picture, etc.) which I obliged. The same email also asked the following key questions:

Question 1 – Wendy: What do you do for living?

Response – Kaunda: I have a large publishing company that publishes books for the West African sub region. Three of my books are under review by the West Africa Examination Council. Hopefully, from next year, it will be endorsed and used across all Senior High Schools in West Africa.

Question 2 – Wendy: Can you handle this transaction?

Response – Kaunda: Absolutely. 2 Years ago, I assisted Tangari Holdings in Norway to transfer USD 2,560,043.00 from DNB (the Norwegian bank) to their subsidiary in Namibia.

Question 3 – Wendy: Can I trust you as a genuine friend?

Response – Kaunda: I swear God please trust me. I will never disappoint you.

After giving her high hope, she connected me with the invisible bank- Islamic Development Bank through the emails and To make my work easy, she even sent me a draft message that I can just push to the bank.

The message read:

I wish to apply as a Trustee to Miss Wendy Kipkalya Kones. the next of kin to Kipkalya Kones from Kenya. Who died in plane crash in the year 2008. I am putting claim over his balance of ($5.500, 000, 00 Million dollars) from his ACCOUNT NUMBER 0036101101 and ROUTING NO: 91002211. I want to know the legal procedure of transferring the said fund into my bank account; i am now demanding your kind assistance for urgent consideration of my application.

I did exactly that; I pushed it to the bank. The bank did the needful and sent me a Trustee Verification Form to fill. Figure 2 shows the header of the form.

Figure 2: Header of the form from IDB

The key details requested by the form were:

  1. My bio data
  2. My company details
  3. My bank details
  4. Amount to be transferred
  5. And a declaration that states: “I…….hereby takes full responsibility for every information provided above.”

As dump as I am, I did as instructed. I filled it, scanned and mailed it back to the invisible bank. The bank acknowledged the email and further requested for four documents. The email read:

“… Subsequent to our banking edicts of article 105, section 45, and sub section 048 as amended in 2014. You are required to furnish this bank with authentic dully proofs, confirming the death of the depositor and the approval from the next of kin (miss wendy kipkalya kones) to the deceased for verification and authentication of your claim:

The documents are as follows:

  1. A copy of deposit certificate issued to Mr.kipkalya kones.
  2. A copy of a death certificate of Mr.kipkalya kones.
  3. A copy of will certificate from Mr. Kipkalya kone wiled to her daugther miss wendy kipkalya.
  4. A copy of your personal identity card


Director of Foreign Remittance Dept.”

On this note, we end part 1 of this series. Watch out for part 2 next week.


Author: Kaunda Ibn Ahmed (Online President, Republic of Ghana) (Member, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)

For comments, contact Kaunda@outlook.comor Mobile: +233 234 80 90 10