Now to Address the Bible Scammers
While we sympathize with victims of the Advance Fee Fraud, this website has been set up primarily as a data repository with information intended to help prevent Christian ministries from being duped by a particular offshoot of the 419ers; an outgrowth we simply like to call the Nigerian Bible Scammers. We were first made aware of this criminal ring only very recently. Consequently, we don't know how long this creature has been alive or exactly how far its tentacles reach. What we have learned in a very short time, however, is that it has quite an extensive network, like its 419 parents, branching out from Nigeria to Ghana and other West African nations, to Amsterdam, London and even the United States. This beast always seem to keep the nation of Nigeria as a base, though; most likely because it is so lax on crime. In fact, Nigeria has been rated more than once by Transparency International as the second most corrupt country in the world. The Nigerian Bible Scammers (NBSers) mine the internet, searching for any ministry that offers free Bibles and Christian materials. They then send off letters or email requests to these unsuspecting ministries, soliciting whatever items they can get, including cash donations via Western Union if possible. They often but not always use aliases. To accompany each of their newly invented names, NBSers produce an awe-inspiring Christian life history filled with sorrowful, sympathy-drawing events. Nevertheless, they keep a stiff upper lip, projecting an image of a steadfast faithfulness to God and a hunger to win lost sinners to Christ in most of their correspondence. They come across as very friendly, and in order to appear sincere, they can and do quote the Bible as well as any knowledgeable Christian. Frequently, they will give you an imaginary church name run by a nonexistent pastor as their place of fellowship, usually providing a box number in a West African city (the most popular being Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria -- a virtual rat's nest of criminals) for you to send Bibles and other materials to. They are not beyond stealing credit cards -- the numbers are stolen, not the physical cards themselves -- or forging cashiers' cheques to order Bibles and religious literature. The large Southern Baptist retail chain Lifeway Christian Resources did a small story in 2003 (LifeWay Christian Stores Battle Black-Market Bible Scam), in which they explained how and why they, along with other chain stores and independent Christian retailers, were being targeted by Nigerian nationals for fraudulent purchases. Melissa Mitchell, Lifeway's director of loss prevention, explained that orders would come in by phone or email requesting a large number of the same item, and some time after the products would be delivered to Nigeria the true owner of the card, who never actually ordered anything from the booksellers, would challenge the charges; there would be a 'charge-back' and the store would eat the loss. "By the time the merchant realizes the credit card purchase is a fraudulent one," writer Sarah Horn adds, "the merchandise has already been shipped to an address that’s impossible to track. Eventually the merchandise is sold through the Nigerian black market." Justice Okoronkwo, administrative secretary for the Christian Booksellers Association in Nigeria, was quoted in the same article, saying that:
The Bibles that are supplied on the black market are the reason for the sharp price undercutting you find in Nigeria. Genuine importers often cannot sell as they cannot afford to undersell. Sometimes they eventually have to sell below the cost price because they have deadlines to meet from international suppliers. This is a real problem for the CBA Nigeria.
Evangelist Marty Lineberry, operator of Web-Ministry, a site that gives away free Bibles, noticed the trend in requests sent to him from Nigeria and Ghana (which he receives almost on a daily basis), many with matching IP's, yet different names attached to each request (see here). Our initial data would lead us to believe that the members of the Bible fraud network(s) number in the hundreds, perhaps thousands. (There are an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 total scammers operating out of Nigeria, presently.) So even if only a small percentage of church organizations here in the West respond to the flood of requests regularly sent out by many of them, it still translates to thousands of free Bibles they receive that they can then sell for an outstanding profit on the black market, giving them more cashflow to help finance their other illegal activities, and as Mr. Okoronkwo intimates, destroying the legitimate Christian bookseller in the process.
A number of the scammers, having approached Rev. Patricia Jaynes, founder/operator of Outreach Ministries Unlimited correspondence Bible college in Clinton, Tennessee, convinced her that they were desperately in need of able ministries in America to help sponsor several financially-challenged Christian outreaches in Nigeria. For a period lasting about nine months she sent them Christian training materials and funds. They had for a time put her under the illusion that through her interminable resources they were able to establish and maintain a branch of the OMU Bible College in Idoani, Ondo State, Nigeria. Patricia paid teachers' salaries and shipped off about eighty diplomas for the alleged graduate students. She also ordained about seven or eight of the leaders with OMU credentials. She has since broken off all ties with these people, abrogating any past certifications granted to them through her organization.
What first alerted her that there was a problem, and sent her on an enlightening investigation, she explained to us in an email, was their insatiable demand for more and more materials, no matter how much she sent. A Nigerian mobilization officer with whom she was in contact later confirmed to her that none of the Nigerian addresses that she had been given by the scammers existed. Through the use of an online investigative resource she discovered that every name she researched gave an address for a residence in Florida. And these people were supposed to be living in Nigeria. A mobilization officer warned her:
to be very careful because he thinks they are quite dangerous especially if they are trying to smuggle weapons or chemicals into the US. With much evangelism going on in other countries their diplomas or ordainment papers would give them the credentials they need to disguise their entry quite well with the border patrol.
Patricia has passed on this warning to others on her website; listing on a separate page the names and some relevant details of those who had defrauded her and others who had tried. Patricia is of the opinion that they intend to set up legitimate looking umbrella organizations of Bible colleges and churches in the United States as fronts to funnel money, weapons and other contraband. Invasion U.S.A.? While we agree with Miss Jaynes that this is an entirely plausible scenario, we would like to acquire more evidence -- since we haven't yet ascertained all their true motives. One sentiment that we do presently share with the Rev. Jaynes, however, is that these are criminal factions who have their own beliefs and are not spending their time memorizing the scriptures simply to strengthen their Christian walk or for any godly edification of the body of Christ, but rather as a tool of infiltration to accomplish their own wicked ends. What a pity! One name we can confirm on Rev. Jayne's list, a Mr. A. J. Aduchi T., has also written to us requesting scripture and materials for a prison ministry that does not exist (see letter). We can also confirm that some members of their network(s) do reside here in the U.S. The following two xeroxed letters, from 'poor Nigerians' who allegedly could not afford Bibles, were snail mailed to us from locations within the United States! example # 1 from Evang. Mahoney Muffa in Ondo St., Nigeria -- mailed from zip 17107 example # 2 from Apostle Osaro Igbiniarode also in Ondo State -- mailed from zip 37690 If you have any tips, information, evidence, or such like, that you want to contribute to this site, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Forward to us any email requests and scanned copies of snail mail requests that were sent to you by Bible scammers and we will post them in our scammer request Data Dump, where we will also include profiles on scammers like Edomwande Austine (often reversed to Austine Edomwande) when we have sufficient information to do so. Check our archived sites of Ms. Jayne's and Mr. Lineberry's for names and/or IP addresses of known and suspected scammers that you want to crossreference with potential ones who have contacted you.
Welcome to the Nigerian Bible Scammers information page --
an online resource alerting Christians to this growing criminal element vexing the church
First let's deal with the 419 scam, the mother of the Nigerian Bible Scam
The 4-1-9 scam, for those who aren't yet acquainted with it, is named after the number in the Nigerian penal code, which deals with advance fee fraud. It apparently began some time around the '80s with letters, evolving into faxes and finally tempting emails -- originating out of Nigeria, mostly -- which promise the recipient millions of dollars for a meager upfront 'processing' fee of a few thousand, often not requested until after their mark (that's you) is securely hooked on the bait. Generally, each time you pay the requested amount, they will produce another unexpected fee, inconsequential to the amount you stand to gain. But the payoff never comes, just more solicitations for money (each one claiming to be the last) until you finally either wake up or go broke. The storylines are very creative and are constantly being adapted with the times: everything from an announcement that you've won the lottery to a notification that a rich distant relative of yours has died leaving you a sizeable inheritance to a letter of appeal from a foreign state official seeking to transfer his finances out of an unstable country, and willing to split his war chest with you for the use of your bank account. There are also those philanthropic Christian widows who have steadfastly sought out the Lord for a faithful Christian ministry to donate their vast wealth to, and God gave them your name. They are prone to forging documents with official looking letterheads and seals to help pull off their cons. (See further description of the 419 fraud posted at the U.S. Secret Service website.) Many typical examples of these scam letters and emails can be viewed at the 419 Coalition and at Quatloos.
American citizens who have been financially defrauded by a 419 scammer should contact the following agencies:
Step # 1 applies only to those who have been contacted by fraudsters, yet haven't incurred any financial loss. Steps 2-4 apply to those who have been defrauded of funds.
1) If you have received a scam letter via email, contact sender's email service provider, furnish them with the entire text of the message you received, the complete header (instructions for displaying complete headers for most email programs can be found at haltabuse.org -- to first determine exactly where the email originated from, read Joe Wein's tutorial, because it may have originated from a source other than what it claims) and a request that the illegally used account be shut down. Most email service providers can be reached by emailing abuse@domainname. For example, if it is a yahoo account, then you need to contact email@example.com, for hotmail write to firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.. Spamcop may also be of service in helping to get the email accts. of these 419ers shut down. A copy of the original scam message should be sent to the United States Secret Service for cataloging and datamining, then forwarded (as an attachment) to Joe Wein or a similar site that posts them publicly to warn others. 2) If you have been scammed, call your closest field office of The United States Secret Service, the primary U.S. agency handling Advance Fee Fraud. You should also lodge a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. 3) As a formality, you should file a complaint with both the Nigerian Consulate in America and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria. You should not, however, expect any help from the Nigerian government, as the 419 Coalition and other internet fraud investigators have found out: the Advance Fee Fraud and related scams rank somewhere between the 3rd to 5th largest industry in Nigeria. Many Nigerian police and government officials are on the take. What few 'crackdowns' they do make can usually be found at the regularly updated 419 Coalition's latest news link. 4) If the scammers made use of a British-based bank account, phone number, or physical address, then contact the London Metropolitan Police Dept., Specialist Crime Fraud Squad with the details.
Disclaimer: Although this disclaimer should be unnecessary, for the sake of avoiding misconceptions we want to make it abundantly clear that in no way are we trying to vilify the good people of the nation of Nigeria (or any other west African nation). The undisputable facts simply show that presently the rogue element operating in financial frauds has a much greater concentration in Nigeria than any other country.