Fredrick Haines, a man from Kansas City, USA, received the sum of 110,000 United States dollars as a settlement from Western Union. Fred, aged 77, was a victim to the notorious Nigerian Prince scam, in which fraudsters try to trick unsuspecting people that they will inherit a huge fortune from Nigerian royalty.
According to a report by Daily Mail, Mr. Haines wired exactly $110,000, between 2005 and 2008, to scammers who promised him a $64 million inheritance if he made financial commitments.
Regardless that his loss occurred around a whole decade ago, Haines will receive all of his money back as a beneficiary of a $586 million fund set up by the Western Union. The fund was set to pay back victims of similar scams located in Canada and the United States. Western Union made that move after admitting in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that some of its employees back then had colluded with the scammers to defraud customers such as Haines.
How Haines Lost His $110,000
Fredrick Haines, a self-employed handyman in Wichita, was skeptical when the scammers made first contact with him via his Yahoo! email account back in 2005. These fraudsters promised him a $64 million inheritance and that is how they got his attention in the first place.
Haines told The Kansas City Star:
“They started off with saying I was going to inherit $64 million, and right away I thought, ‘This is kind of a joke, or it’s a scam’. Those Nigerians know how to talk.”
The man from Kansas shared that the prospect sounded too promising, but after investing so much effort and cash, it became too hard to believe it was all a scam.
It got to the point where they were showing me that the President of Nigeria had sent me a letter. It had his picture on it and everything. I looked it up on the computer to see what the Nigerian president looked like, and it was him.
He also received another email supposedly signed by director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) back then – Robert Mueller. Haines then proceeded and remortgaged his home three times to pay the total amount he sent to the fraudsters over the period of three years. He finally realized it was a con after he was made to believe a supposed Nigerian had been sent to deliver two suitcases full of money to him face to face. The meeting place was Wichita Airport, but no one showed up.
The people behind the scam continued sending him false affidavits, bank account holdings and similar documents to keep him convinced, but Fredrick already had become aware that he was being swindled.
Western Union Settlement and Refunds
The office of Kansas Attorney-General, Derek Schmidt, contacted Fredrick Haines searching to notify him that he could be eligible for a refund related to the Nigerian Prince scam. Haines was successful in proving his claim for the refund after he filed every piece of evidence in the form of receipts and correspondence he exchanged with the con men.
Derek Schmidt’s office had sent the same notification letter to 25,000 Kansas residents after Western Union admitted in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission to knowingly neglect the situation of employees helping scammers to steal money from its customers. Schmidt was concerned that the only people who knew about it were those who had already complained to law enforcement or reached out directly to Western Union.
The Kansas Attorney-General’s office acquired the list of those it contacted from Western Union after requesting for a list of Kansas residents who had sent huge sums of money and those who had sent sums of any amount to particular high-risk countries.
A $586 million fund reimburses people fallen victim to fraudulent transactions made via the Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017. The period for filing a claim become a beneficiary ended on May 31, 2018, and recipients may have to wait over almost another year for approval and processing of those refunds. More than three hundred people in the state of Kansas alone, including Fred Haines, have already claimed a total of $1,758,988 in refunds with help from Derek Schmidt’s office.
Picture Source: The Kansas City Star