Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't Fall Prey to a Nigerian Scam

It's scary how email scams can suck-in people who know better.

A recent Supreme Court of British Columbia decision illustrates how the Nigerian Scam works. The case is The Toronto Dominion Bank v. Merenick, 2007 BCSC 1261.

Mr. Merenick was a financial consultant. He was just starting out. A "Dr. Chris Martins," and later a "Dr. Ahmad Rehman" began emailing him. They asked for his help in moving $8.3 million from a research grant to Canada. They promised him a commission. Mr. Merenick was skeptical. He suspected a scam. He told them so. They persisted. He refused to send them money to cover alleged taxes to move the money. They persisted.

Eventually, he agreed to accept a cheque from an "investor" for over $82,000 U.S., which he deposited into his bank account at the Toronto Dominion bank. They told him to wire the funds to another account to cover bank charges to move the $8.3 million. He did so.

The cheque was a counterfeit. The Bank was unable to recover the funds Mr. Merenick wired from his account. He resigned his position as a financial consultant and declared bankruptcy.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank applied to court for an order that Mr. Merenick would have to repay the bank despite his bankruptcy. The Bank argued that he had obtained funds from the Bank "by false pretences or fraudulent misrepresentation." If so, the bankruptcy would not release Mr. Merenick from his obligation to repay the Bank.

Madam Justice Holmes found that Mr. Merenick had not acted untruthfully or fraudulently with the Bank. Accordingly, on discharge from bankruptcy, Mr. Merenick will be released from the debt to the bank.

Still, he paid a heavy price.

Please, when you get one of these emails, just delete it.

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