Partying with The Lads in Hong Kong

A victim shares his story

Revisiting this tale in 2007: A Kindly Contributor offered the following insight:

... the victim referred to opening a numbered HSBC account in Hong Kong. I have lived in Hong Kong for about 8 years and have been a HSBC private bank customer for about 3 years. As far as I know, they do not provide numbered accounts. I googled and also looked at HSBC Hong Kong's website and found no reference to HSBC numbered accounts. Therefore I find this claim of having opened one, in 2001, to be extremely suspicious. I shopped around for numbered accounts before I joined HSBC but I found no banks offering them in Hong Kong. It is highly questionable that one was opened by the victim, especially with only US$300. I think he/she embellished the story, and his/her other claims are therefore also questionable.

As far as I know, Bank of China (Hong Kong) offered numbered accounts back in the '60's. It was a secretive service provided to Chinese spies/agents and corrupt police officers with communist leanings. I would think that this is no longer the practice.

From: (Victim in Australia)
Subject: Nigerian Scam - My story
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2001

Let me tell you a story - I got one of these e-mails about a year ago as a greedy fool I believed these lies. I was cleverly convinced by several e-mails. I caught a fight from Melbourne, Australia to Hong Kong to open up a new secret bank account for the transfer and for a meeting with two men from Nigeria. I purchases both their return Lagos to Hong Kong airline tickets for them to meet with me.

We stayed at the Excelsior hotel in the best part of causeway bay Hong Kong at my expense for 2 night. On day one, I meet them for breakfast, we went together to open a HSBC Bank account in my name for the transfer. The rest of the trip we had a great time together all at my expense, we had a lobster dinner and went to nudy bars. These guys had a free holiday at my expense, of course I thought I was going to be millionaire from them.

After returning home to Australia, and them returning to Nigeria, after more faxes, phone calls the deal looked very real. The money was to come from a Canada Trust bank account to my HSBC account. I was planning my new life as a millionaire. I was going to leave Australia and go to live in New York City.

The bomb shell was dropped, they told me I had to pay bank fee for the transfer of $78,000 USD. So I did some investigation I called the Canada Trust Bank and discovered that the Toronto address of the Canada Trust Bank branch given did not exist and was told by the bank they were aware of this scam.

I felt like such a fool, I spent around 10,000 AUD on this con I was devastated. I gave then lots of very abusive phone calls.

We asked for more details:

Did your loss consist of the money you spent on everyone's travel, and treating these guys to a good time? Or did you also put money in the account to start it off? The details are a bit unclear there

From: (Victim)

Let me tell you my story in better detail -

I live in Australia and I run a small software business, I sell my software on the Internet and have customers worldwide. I tend to receive e-mails all the time with all kinds of strange and interesting offers. In January, I received a strange email that came through my business email address that was address to the CEO/Company President with a mutually beneficial business proposal.

The email was from Nigeria and claimed that there was a new airport that was recently built in Lagos and the author claimed he was the head of a committee that tendered for this construction project. The project was purposely over inflated by 20 million US dollars by this committee and he needed my help to provide my foreign bank account to smuggle this money out of Nigeria. Their requirement of me was to claim my business was awarded the 20 million-dollar contact and provide my bank account details for the transaction. I was to receive the 20 million, keep 25% for myself (around 5 million dollars) then transfer the remaining 75% to his bank account.

At first, I thought this has to be some kind if con it was too good to be true. However at the same time I knew how incredibly corrupt and lawless a place like Nigeria can be. However, I thought what if it is true, how could I pass up an opportunity to become a multi-millionaire, sometimes you need to take risks in life.

At the bottom of the email was a telephone number so I thought I would listen to what he had to say. At first I was defensive then he elaborated his story and explained with very convincing detail, I agreed to the deal and he requested I fax him my business details. He told me I needed to get my business name registered In Nigeria and he would arrange this for me (he never requested any money from me).

After a week, he faxed my business name registration details. The documents looked legitimate, I called the number of the registration office on the fax. The registration detail was confirmed to be real.

I was told the contract documents still needed to still be drawn up, after a week I was faxed with more documents that looked legitimate. I was still a little sceptical, so thought I would do some investigation. I called the Operator and got the telephone number for the Lagos Airport that was written on the contract. I called the airport and asked the woman that answered the telephone if the airport recently had any major construction she said, yes. I asked for the person I was dealing with she knew of him and offered to connect me, I then hanged up and from that point I believed the story was true.

I started to do some research and discovered that any money being deposited into an Australian bank account greater then 10,000 Australia dollars must be notified to the Australian securities commission by the bank. Therefore, my Australian bank account was no good. Therefore, I started thinking about getting a secret foreign bank account for the transaction.

I looked into the idea of a Swiss Bank account, my partner in Nigeria advised me against this, as any funds coming from to Nigeria to a Swiss Bank account, particularly for such a large sum of money would definitely be investigated. He was right, my research further revealed that no Swiss Bank would allow a Nigerian to have an account with them. Therefore, I considered the Bahamas, Vanuatu, and the Isle of Mane. I found that Nigeria was on every tax-free haven's black list except for Hong Kong.

I identified Hong Kong as the perfect place for this transaction. It was a place where billions of dollars flow freely without many questions. I informed my partner I am going to fly to Hong Kong to open a new HSBC Bank account for the transaction. He was very excited and happy.

He sold me a dream after all this is completed we will be multi-millionaires together and we can meet in London for a coffee and laugh together.

He told me him and his colleague would like to meet me first before remitting the funds into my account. He suggested that we all meet in Hong Kong. I agreed. He said he had sold his car and remortgaged his house to pay for the cost of getting the contracts through, for the transaction and he could not afford to pay for the airfare neither could his colleague. He asked me send them the money for their airfares.

I was a little sceptical about this, as these people were suppose to be highflying officials with access to 20 million dollars. Nevertheless, I also know how poor most people in Africa can be. He asked me to send them money for their airfares. I refused. Instead, I offered to book it for them. They provide me with their details I then paid and booked their British Airways flights and their accommodation then e-mailed their Itinerary and booked my QANTAS flight.

We were to meet on Friday morning at the Excelsior Hotel, in beautiful causeway bay Hong Kong. I rang the hotel reception at 8am and my partners from Nigeria had checked in. The Hotel receptionist connected me to their room. We arranged to meet at 9am in the Hotel restaurant for breakfast.

I wore my best suit, I spotted them immediately, and they were two middle aged African men dressed in nice quality suits. They were polite, friendly and spoke very good English. We had breakfast togeather, chatted then I paid the bill.

We all then proceeded to the HSBC Bank Center together. They waited for me as I open the bank account that was to be used for our transaction. Then latter we walked around Hong Kong together, had lunch, talked about our lives and the transaction. We had a very expensive lobster dinner then we went to a nuddy bar in the evening all of course at my expense. The next day I did my own thing, we met for dinner in the eveing then said good-by after returning to the hotel as I was catching my flight out early the next morning.

After returning to Australia and them returning to Nigeria, I had no doubt at all that of this was real. I received more faxes and documents.

I finally received a Fax from Canada Trust bank a Toronto branch. It stated to complete the transaction I needed to pay back taxes of 78,000 US dollars. I was devastated.

I started to get suspicious so I called the Canada Trust bank head office. I was told the address of the branch on letterhead did not exist and that Canada Trust was aware of a scam from Nigeria doing this.

I then knew that I had been fooled. These pigs had led me on for FOUR months and had a free holiday at my expense!

I gave all the details I had to the Canada Trust bank and gave them a lot of very angry and abusive telephone calls. I told them I the Canada Trust bank is now aware of your scam and your going to be hunted down by the FBI and going to jail for a very long time and I hope you get F***ked and raped in jail. I called them every obscene insult you can imagine...

OK we're a bit dim. We asked:

Did this seem honest? This is the part that puzzles us...

> > as I open the bank account that was to be used for our transaction.

Here's the bit we don't understand... did you put money in that account?
> > I finally received a Fax from Canada Trust bank a
> > Toronto branch. It stated
> > to complete the transaction I needed to pay back
> > taxes of 78,000 US dollars.

Which transaction? Deposit by Nigerians into the account? Withdrawal of (what?) by whom? Which government wanted the back taxes?

From: (Victim)
Hi again,

I only put 300 US dollars into my HSBC account. It was a type of account that had no account name, just a number and the account had the facility to leave the funds as US dollars - It was perfect for the transaction. Nice and secret and saving currency conversion loss.

I knew very well that this deal is dishonest and stolen money. I thought it may have even been drug money or worse blood money. [Note: In fact it was imaginary money - this scam as we understand it involves getting you to pay 'taxes' on a non-existent sum to a non-existent bank branch.] I knew I was steeling money from a very poor, third world country. I ask my Nigeria partners about this, they said no, they told me this money is legal. Whatever the case, because of the incredibly corrupt and lawless state of Nigeria I felt confident I could get away with this deal. 5 million US dollars is a huge amount of money, that would change my life forever. I was prepared to take risks.

Also, I knew the tax department or explaining where the money had come from would be a problem. To my friends and family, I was going to make out I won a major deal for my software. I was determining the best way, to avoid tax I was going keep the money in tax free havens, invest it and probably go live in the United States, I was thinking New York. I was replanning my whole life.

The story was my Nigeria partners work for the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Aviation (NFMA). The NFMA had it's funds managed in Canada. First I dealt with an office in Quebec a Fiduciary Management firm, acting as the agent for NFMA. I phoned them, they phoned me. It was a Quebec area code number. Then the Fiduciary Management firm released the funds, to Canada Trust Bank in Toronto. I phoned them, they phoned me. It was a Toronto area code number. When the bogus Canada Trust Bank requested the 78,000 dollars it was for back taxes to be paid to the Canadian government to release the funds.

I sent an email to my Nigeria partner, he told me he could do nothing and I had to pay it. This is when I started to get suspicions and contacted the Canada Trust Bank head office, the then uncovered this elaborate and complex scam. That was based form Lagos to Qucbec to Toronto.

I guess I was lucky, this scam has been used to swindle more than $5 billion US, according to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. At least two businessmen, one from Norway and one from Mauritius, never had the chance to come forward. They were kidnapped and murdered as part of this scam in 1999. [Note: we can't verify, but common sense would tell you to stay far far away from these guys.]

So don't do that!