Local victims of Nigerian online scams now have a new ally in the fight against fraud with a partnership between the Queensland Police Service, Nigeria's Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and industry.
It is estimated by the Queensland Police that more than half a million dollars per month is leaving the state for Nigeria.
The industry-based forum will discuss Advance Fee Fraud (AFF) issues, which covers a variety of online fraud, including electronic banking to romance scams, will involve online dating agencies, travel and transport industries, online commerce industries, banking, and government departments coming together to share information.
This type of fraud is dubbed AFF because it doesn't just pertain to Nigeria. Since many people had heard of Nigerian letters, people are still willing to send money to Ghana as they think it's not a Nigerian scam. AFF is a type of fraud where people pay money in advance anticipating a return.
Detective Superintendent for the Queensland Police fraud and corporate crime group Brian J Hay said the existing joint operation has already resulted with nine people in Nigeria awaiting trial for fraudulent activities against Queensland residents.
"Unfortunately Queenslanders to this day continue to send millions of dollars overseas. In terms of numbers we see more money leaving our shores every day," Hay said.
"The offenders have changed their mode of operation and are focusing more on higher-volume and less value transactions. They are becoming far more technical in their application. We see them using black market Web portals and are working closely with other groups to assist the facilitation of these activities and unfortunately the biggest one is the romance scams. We see a great deal of energy being placed into victimizing online dating processes."
The forum will develop strategies to further protect the people of Australia and enhance the activities of the EFCC.
Hay said even this week he was on the phone convincing a person not to send any more money after $585,000 had already been sent.
"This person continued to believe that they were involved in an oil pipeline business venture with Nigerian government officials," he said. "I asked how the person knew they were Nigerian government officials - 'because they told me so'. Unfortunately this was an intelligent, articulate man, successfully self-employed with his own business and had fallen prey to the scams."
Hay said the rate of money leaving Australia is typically the same as Queensland.
"The dating scams are worst type as the people are emotionally distraught and it is the most rapidly evolving and is growing the fastest," he said.
This involves people's personal information being taken from dating Web sites and scammers making out to be perfect match and then siphoning money out of unsuspecting love seekers.
"They are very good at what they do, they are very articulate and convincing," he said. "As long as the money is there they will make the effort. It continues to be a problem and it needs to be addressed. And by a whole of government and industry approach we hope we can protect the community."