Obviously never heard of Plenty Of Fish. It's free as well.
A lonely beancounter has been jailed after he fell for what appears to be a classic Nigerian email scam, and conned £150,000 out of a friend so he could bankroll his fake damsel in distress. Brian Ridpath, of Willesborough, Kent, England, was fooled into believing the story of Lisa Johnson, who emailed him X-rated snaps and …
Plenty Of Fish
I installed the POF app on a brand new Android tablet but never went any further (never created a profile and never even opened the App). For the next month every time I looked at the "Notifications" on the lock screen there were notifications from POF that people wanted to contact me.
How could someone from POF send a contact request when I never entered any details for them to contact me?
I have uninstalled the App and steer clear of the site.
OK, I've installed the app. Go ahead and make snide comments if you wish. (Just to let you know I've scored 3 times in 10 months; so who's laughing now!)
It actually has a bug / undocumented feature. There is a section called "Meet Me", and you get the profile outline and picture of the people that fall into the categories that you indicate you are looking for (height, age etc.)
However, if you go to move to the next lucky lad or lady, the system automatically generates the "Meet Me" request on behalf of the person looking, even if they've decided not to bother because your profile is incomplete. It is a PITA, because you get loads of bogus requests, half of who are not even remotely interested.
"Obviously never heard of Plenty Of Fish. It's free as well."
That's where I found my partner of 4 1/2 years.
Sadly, I did have to weed out the scammers while I was looking. Apart from the obvious suggestions to immediately start messaging off-site, or ignorance of the places they claimed to be from, one of the best ways to detect scams was to drop their profile pictures into Google image search - quite often they'd just rip off models' photos, or grab them from someone's Facebook account. I don't know if they still are, but PoF used to be quite prompt at taking down scammers' profiles when they were reported.
Seconded. While the guy defrauded his friend, he's also a victim.
Detective Kirya shouldn't be pleased with the outcome. It was pathetically easy to prosecute him. The outcome is at best bittersweet, and it's certainly not a win, it's not just and it should not be the conclusion.
"...No he's a total idiot and he's lucky the law doesn't recognise people who are criminally stupid as he'd be up for an even longer stretch.
He belongs in jail the total moron...."
I love how these nasty, small minded comments are always made anonymously.
How would you feel if this was your elderly relative?
As others said, yes he was silly. Yes he committed a crime but he was ultimately also a victim of a scam.
Nasty, small minded creature aren't you?
He's an accountant who can't spot a 419 scam and didn't have 30,000 (to start with) laying about of his own money? Can't have been a very good one. It's not inconceivable that he made up the story and evidence to scam his client/friend. As for his client/friend, how dumb do you have to be to lend money to an accountant? I'd say about one level of dumbness from lending money to a bank manager.
Agreed; there's nothing at all to be pleased with here. A hapless, lovesick (or maybe just horny; but that's neither criminal, nor deplorable) old chap got completely duped by a fraudster. I doubt he intended to financially harm his friend; he most likely figured he just needed some fast liquid cash to get things sorted out, and then he'd be able to go to his friend, spill the beans, and work out a way to provide recompense.
Clearly, he was a man of not inconsiderable means, given that he owned a home and was apparently a successful accountant, it's not inconceivable that he'd have been able to pay off the first debt to his friend, if the need for a single lump-sum of liquid cash had been genuine... Unfortunately, he fell for the classic 419, where the needs for finances only go up, up, up.
He was a dupe, a patsy, thinking with his heart and his loins, and he was clearly going all-in, attempting to sell HIS OWN HOME to continue to aid this false frau, even whilst under investigation by the plod. Jailing him is not a satisfactory outcome, it's a tragedy; he already ruined himself, and the REAL criminal - the one who wrapped him around a finger that may or may not contain a pair of X chromosones - has made great piles of pounds off this, while the hapless old chap is the who landed in the dock, then the clink.
I thought it could be dementia too, that he was still insisting 'she' was real indicates something is not right with him mentally.
If GCHQ is collecting all of our emails and phone calls at least they could do something useful and alert social services about people falling for this stuff.
>While officers investigated, Ridpath continued to wire cash to Johnson, the court heard, and tried to sell his own home to raise more funds
From this I understand that once the money had dried up from his friend he started to use his own, not the other way around.
"Did anyone check this guy out medically? As an accountant you'd think he'd be a bit more savvy when it comes to spotting a financial cons, so you have to wonder if he's not gone a bit in the head."
I wondered this myself. At 79 it's possible he could be anything from fit, healthy, active and fully compis mentis to someone incapable of looking after themselves or anywhere in between. But the article does say the friend he defrauded was also a client which indicates he was still capable of acting as an accountant. It all sounds horribly complicated, but I agree with the general sense of the more compassionate commentards that he's as much a victim as criminal in this case.
Perhaps he had gone a bit dotty - perhaps he'd lived a long, lonely life - and may I remind you that at 89, the fellow is old enough to remember those years when Jerry was dropping bombs on London, that's a hell of a long time to go loveless - and the prospect of any female attention was something he couldn't resist.
Hell, I can tell you that 31 is too damn long to go without any attention of that sort. I like to think I'm a cynical enough bastard not to fall for this kind of nonsense, but tack another 58 years on and will it be the same? Will the scams of the year 2074 resemble the scams of the year 2016? Hell, do the scams of 2016 bear a great resemblance to those of the year 1954? Would any of us be as savvy at spotting an old-school in-person shyster's fast-talking fraud? I bet the old chap would.
i don't get how anyone in this day and age still trusts any deal coming out of Nigeria involving massive amounts of cash set almost exclusively in a 'too good to be true' scenario.
A story about someone unjustly having trouble with the law (or with crime) while at the same time expecting sums of money exceeding 4 or 5 trailing zeroes out of legit-looking deals and you getting a portion if you help out, it doesn't set of alarm bells?
Worst part is that these scammers make it hard to trust decent and honest businesses in Nigeria.
There's an interesting research paper from Microsoft about this - actually using the Nigerian story makes scamming more efficient because it filters out anyone with 1/2 an ounce of net awareness - the costs to the scammers in terms of time and effort come from all the follow-up communication, so out of the 1% of people who would click on this in the first place, it's best for them to lose 9 punters who would eventually smell a rat and keep the 1 punter who is still clueless.
"it filters out anyone with 1/2 an ounce of net awareness "
Yes, this. 419ers are not regular mainstream news items so anyone not used to seeing and deleting their spams is likely barely aware of the possibility. As an accountant, even at 79, he must be using a computer and have been ising one for quite some time now. But that's not to say he's used one for much other than work or even used email for anything other than business. It's entirely possible that at 79 he's simply very naive in terms of the Internet. At 54, I'm of the first generation to grow up with a computer in the house, and that was still pretty rare back then (until the Speccy came along!), let alone with access at work or school to computer of any sort.
As AC says, they're deliberately scaring away anyone with any awareness of a potential scam, so that the only people they have to deal with are those who have already completely ignored all the warning signs.
Alas, there will probably always be someone gullible enough to fall for almost any con.
Whilst I don't agree with what he did, lying to a friend / client to get the money I have to ask if 18 months jail time is really appropriate for a 79 year old. By all accounts he was totally taken in by the scam and then abused contacts he had to get the money but this was to the point he was going to sell his own house so it could easily be argued malicious intent wasn't present.
Arguably he should know better, but how many pensioners are taken in by phone scams, etc. every day. Ultimately his was a minor role (albeit expensive) in a friend paying out a large amount of money - should the friend not have checked more thoroughly before handing that much money over and at least share some responsibility.
Yeah, he is guilty of fraud but many people do much worse and get less jail time.
If he'd been honest with his client, then his client wouldn't have invested his money. There's a massive difference in risk between "my accountant has met this person, seen their business and vouches for them" versus "some Nigerian this guy's fallen in love with online but has never met".
The issue is not that he was scammed, the issue is an accountant who deliberately lied to his client, causing them to lose a lot of money. Accountants are in a position of trust, it's a job requiring scrupulous honesty.
"The issue is not that he was scammed, the issue is an accountant who deliberately lied to his client, causing them to lose a lot of money. Accountants are in a position of trust, it's a job requiring scrupulous honesty."
All true, of course.
However, given that he asked for the money as a loan (albeit lying about the reason, as you say) and the client was also a friend, I'm wondering about the nature of his report to the police. All the article says (and the source article doesn't expand much beyond it) is:
"When he asked for another £35,000, Ridpath's friend drew the line – and called the police when the accountant refused to pay back the money."
I wonder if that report was along the lines of "My friend has conned me out of all this money..." or more along the lines of "I'm concerned that my friend is being conned, and I've been caught up in it and may have lost all this money".
What the accountant did was still wrong - but if the report was closer to the latter I can't help but wonder if the police then saw him as low hanging fruit.
slap the silly old goat, at 79 he should have MORE than enough life experience to spot scams such as this
Um, he's 79. What's the chance he's got early stage dementia and the judgement bits in his brain are shot? The fact that he insists the 'woman' was kosher suggests his faculties are somewhat lacking.
From all indications on other reports, he's clearly elderly, alone and ultimately a vulnerable target and now a victim.
Of course, drinks all round as he's going to prison because that's definitely the best place for him...... ffs......
More fool his friend for giving over the money if you ask me.
He probably believed to make money from it too... and trusted the accountant without checking first.
In other news today, the TelexFree "CEO" plead guilty of running a Ponzi scheme. I know a couple of people who fell into that trap - and they are not ignorant guys, both graduated - and actively looked for others to increase their income. They even got upset when I advised them to stay away, because that business looked too much like a fraud. When you got involved, he may even deny yourself to be the victim of a fraud, because you don't like to admit you've been naive and gullible.
Lust, greed, and shame could be powerful tools for scammers...
I know a lot of very smart, competent, professional people who are actually astonishingly stupid overall because: They clearly believe that since they are amongst the masters in their chosen profession, they must also be competent in any other venture they deign to pontificate upon. Get a professor near the touchy bits of any energetic system and .... I see Blue Flashing Lights.
When you tell them "it's a scam" they will get upset because you are clearly questioning the perfectness and superiority of their intelligence ;).
Smart people fall harder than average people, they got more money usually, they are conditioned to being right, it takes a looong time for them to suspect that a mere Essex-man weasel person is outrunning them on the OODA-loop.
Indeed, same with the antivaxxer crowd. At one point there were some well-to-do city suburbs in Australia that parents were pretty nervous about letting their kids anywhere near! You know, the "educated" ones. I have some neighbors like that. The granny was a retired paediatric nurse... of course the (non-medical but educated) parents believed her bull, and the toddlers inevitably caught all the most serious preventable diseases you could imagine. Luckily our child was vaccinated ...she plays with them all the time, didn't catch the bad stuff from them, and she is fine, of course.
Heh. "church-going" should be a trigger-warning word. Having grown up amongst these holier than thou gutmenschen and watched what most of them are really like.
It's like they go to church, drive a Prius, eat ecological produce, only buy fair-trade stuff and even donate to charity - only in order to earn themselves a renewed license to steal and generally be arseholes while doing it.
Genuine good people don't make a performance out of it. When they do good, its for their "own consumption".
"church-going" should be a trigger-warning word
No kidding. The vicar that ran my Lutheran high school was done for some major embezzlement and land fraud, while the bloke at the holy-roller Southern Baptist church just got busted for having 3 girlfriends in addition to his wife. It appears that's frowned upon in such circles.
Doesn't count the bloke that blew up the abortion clinic and my grandmother while he was at it.
A couple of friends and I deliberately play along and waste their time. It can be quite entertaining. Especially when you deliberately veer away from their planned script.
The nature of the messages makes me think they are set up like a call centre. (Scripts, handing cases over to different operatives, etc.)
Some of them are so obvious, I wonder if they use it as a filter to weed out anyone who isn't very gullible.
Some of them are actually quite convincing, and I could see how someone might be conned, if they'd not been exposed to the others first.
I'm wondering how far away overlaying the picture from the fake profile on a video call is, I would have thought a powerful PC would have enough power to do it.
Possible, but probably easier to just get women to do it. I'm sure not all the scammers are men.
I'm happy that the vast majority of the scammers are so obvious, if they were any good, more people would be caught.
I suppose it is possible that the scammers don't want to push things far enough that governments legislate to prevent scamming (i.e. effectively closing down/severely delaying Western Union transfers, etc)
I wasn't thinking of the person behind the overlay being a different gender or nationality to the fake profile.
The most recent scammers I have encountered have convincing profiles, photos that google doesn't know, the conversation structure is consistent with where they claim to be from. In fact the only thing in common with the obvious scammers is the direction they drive the conversation.
A friend has had a skype chat with one, and he thought it was the girl in the picture. While I doubt a voice change would be convincing, a carefully used overlay might, and if they get potential rewards of hundreds of thousands it could be worth the effort.
While I was writing this I had another (obvious) one pop up on pidgin, seems the latest tactic is to call you a fake when you start to suspect them.
Scammers do not lack competence. The blatentness of the scam drives away people likely to figure out what is going on before the pay day. There are sufficient old(=trusting) church going(=gullible) professionals(=access to enough cash) so there is no reason to waste any effort on the common or garden paranoid cynical pauper.
419s have been illegal in Nigeria for decades - the scam is named after section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code. The problem was the scammers became rich enough to buy policemen, judges and politicians. These days they are senior government officials. The victims of 419 scams have done horrendous damage to Nigeria by fuelling corruption.
I recall a few years ago a guy who was the target of one of these scams and played along for fun. Part of the scam was that they were to meet up and the Nigerian would receive a hand-over of money in exchange for bank bonds which the Nigerian claimed he was unable to get out of the country. He sent the Nigerian guy an email requesting a photo for identification and specified that to ensure authenticity he should hold up a sign while being photographed. The sign had a large arrow pointing at the subject and stating... "I AM A TOSSER". Remarkably the photo was duly taken and sent back. The guy then posted it on Facebook. He never heard again from Nigerian scammers.
"He sent the Nigerian guy an email requesting a photo for identification and specified that to ensure authenticity he should hold up a sign while being photographed. The sign had a large arrow pointing at the subject and stating... "I AM A TOSSER". Remarkably the photo was duly taken and sent back."
419eater.com is a site (one of several, IIRC) where the results of doing this sort of thing has been published since the internet's Jurassic period. They have a 'trophy room' for publishing such photographs.
that is a little bit <insert open mouth emoji> that there are people who can afford to throw £150,000 with what seems like abandon in the same country where I heard a story where a street canvasser, asking about town centre developments in a northern town was faced with an upset to the point of tears pensioner who was afraid the local £1 shop might close.
<- something desperately wrong in Britain.
"<- something desperately wrong in Britain.
I'd be surprised if you could point me to a single country in the world where there are not people living in desperate fear of abject poverty while others have more money than they know what to do with.
This far from being a unique "broken Britain" problem.
But neither does having your fingers burnt repeatedly.
I have a friend of a similar age to this guy, he has fallen for "female" scammers time after time, sending them thousands; yet a few weeks after vowing never to do it again, his trouser snake takes control and he is sending money to another "18 year old beauty".
Many of these scams, regardless of the claimed country of origin, are actually run by Russian criminal gangs, so the scammers are popularly known as "Hairy Boris" or "Hairy Yuri".
Some even employ real women to make "Hello" videos for them.
Please find attached candid photo of "18 year old beauty" relaxing with a coke.
Beautiful young women are not looking to you to be their lovers or their business partners or their knights in shining armor. There is much pity for this elderly man who was so cruelly taken in. Some scams are very clever and subtle; this one was not. He talked himself into stupidity because he got all excited over dirty pictures. He talked himself into believing the world was giving him a luscious young and beautiful women. Check outside the window: that is not how the world works. If it is like a dream, if it is too good to be true, then guess what.
If he had only lost his own money, then fine. But he deliberated scammed his friend -- he had no intention of paying back the loan (as was said in the story). I have zero sympathy.
Jerry hall may no longer be a spring chicken, but she managed to find it in her heart to marry a prune faced 84 year old billionaire, the poor old soul. How kind she must be to give up for life for such a selfless cause. I wonder which took longer, the nuptials or the composing of the Pre-nup contract?
"I am pleased with the outcome which serves as a warning that crime does not pay. It should also serve as a warning to others that fraudsters come in all forms including people in position of trust."
Unless of course you are the scammer who has in fact gotten away with it.
Did they find the scammer and get the money back? no didn't think so.
At the age referenced the senile degradation (outside medically qualitatively examined and confirmed dementia), makes me feel the first thing police should have done was a medical check of his mental acuity and senile onset. I do not understand why his defense [ advisers / lawyer(s)? ] did not raise this matter. Many when aged are good, some are incapable of correct thought processes and decisions and in this case it seemed loneliness was a major factor; hence internet dependency; almost like an acquired drug addition.
Police only prosecuting seems a 'I will only do the minimum to tick boxes' job.
Agreed. The old fellow done fucked up and fucked up royal by abusing his friend/client's trust, but throwing the book and him and declaring Mission Accomplished smacks very much of plucking the low-hanging fruit.
Though, I think in this case, "Lisa" very much already plucked those cherries before the plod got around to it.
It also worries me that this may actually have a further chilling effect wherein future victims of 419 and other scams simply fail to come forward for fear of actually being prosecuted for falling for it. I mean, if they're gonna throw the book at someone who's up into potentially great-great-great-granpa territory, what're they gonna do to YOU?
No, I appreciate that, but is that how it's going to come across to someone who gets a few/dozen grand in the hole to one of these tossers, comes to their senses, and Googles the thing and comes across this story?
Nobody can accuse the old chap of maliciously abusing his friend, unless they're a heartless bastard. He was clearly all-in on this his own self, and almost certainly saw lying to his friend as a last resort to help someone in desperate need, with every intention of paying him back.
I'm not even saying that prosecuting him may not have been necessary, but throwing all the books at a man who was acting, if not in good faith, then in good intent and with the intent to make right the wrongs that he did in pursuit of what he perceived to be a greater good, is a gross misapplication of justice in my opinion. They could have prosecuted him, then given him the lightest sentence possible.
Or at least lighter than a year and a half in the bloody clink. For fuck's sake, he's 79, he doesn't have many years left, and spending one and a half of them in the lockup is liable to cost him five or more of them as overhead.
First, a 79-year old man shouldn't be obliged to work.
Next, a 18 month sentences is not far from a life sentence for such an old man.
Finally, this guy is not only an accomplice but also a victim from this bloody scammer (may the latter have his butt itching and the arms to small to scratch!)
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