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Woman Admits Sending $400K To Nigerian Scammer 857

Posted by samzenpus
from the headdesk dept.
svnt writes "Janella Spears wiped out her husband's retirement account, remortgaged their paid-for house, and took out a lien against the family car in an attempt to cash in on the deal. A undercover officer involved with the investigation called it the worst example of the scam he's ever seen. Thoughtfully, Spears has gone public with her story as a warning to others not to fall victim."

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Woman Admits Sending $400K To Nigerian Scammer

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  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:47PM (#25751241) Homepage Journal

    Here's your sign: L

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:48PM (#25751255) Homepage

    "It is immoral to allow a sucker to keep their money."

  • Awful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:49PM (#25751261)
    This woman is the reason these kinds of scams exist. She should be exiled.
  • by liquidpele (663430) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:50PM (#25751273) Journal
    Free money not really free, and stupid people still stupid. Story at 13 o'clock.
  • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04NO@SPAMhighpoint.edu> on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:52PM (#25751329)
    ...more like former husband
  • Wrong crowd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pcgamez (40751) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:53PM (#25751363)

    "For more than two years, Spears sent tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everyone she knew, including law enforcement officials, her family and bank officials, told her to stop, that it was all a scam. She persisted."

    Slashdot is not exactly going to be a sympathetic crowd here. What we have is an intelligent person who ignored every single bit of advice from a multitude of sources in favor of outright greed. So now she wants to warn people, but is it really going to do any good? She clearly would have ignored the advice she is now giving.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by negRo_slim (636783)

      She clearly would have ignored the advice she is now giving.

      Yes but at that time she would have had money and a goal to work towards. Now that she lost everything all she can shoot for is a little attention.

    • Re:Wrong crowd (Score:5, Interesting)

      by linumax (910946) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:07PM (#25751637)
      1. Send husband's hard-earned money to your own foreign account
      2. Ignore warnings and claim you're helping a Nigerian prince
      3. Play victim and make it public
      4. ...
      5. Profit!
      • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:50PM (#25752365) Journal

        4. ... Divorce husband and move away.

    • Re:Wrong crowd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by killermookie (708026) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:53PM (#25752417) Homepage

      What we have is an intelligent person who ignored every single bit of advice from a multitude of sources in favor of outright greed.

      Your use of the word 'intelligent' is debatable.

  • yes, for most of us here on slashdot, this is incredibly brain dead, but in general, there is a problem with you if you blame the victim for a crime, no matter how foolish or stupid they acted

    whether a rape victim for wearing revealing clothes, or a guy walking in a dangerous neighborhood at night, yes: you can attack the victim, but if you want to actually claim any moral highground (which many of you seem to assume with a withering condescending tone as you blame the victim), the person who bears 100% responsibility and accountability for a crime is the criminal themselves, and only the criminal, and no one else

    using knowledge and care to avoid crime is of course an important aspect of any behavior, but just because someone fails to do this, for any reason, does not mean they share blame for being victimized: a transgression is a transgression is a transgression. no one ASKS to be victimized in such a horrible way

    if you walk by the front door of a house, and the house is wide open, and no one is home, and in plain site is a stack of 20 dollar bills, you are 100% responsible and culpable if you take that stack of $20s. the person who left them there like that is, yes, pretty stupid. but they deserve zero blame. the criminal, ALWAYS the criminal is responsible for the trangressions that the criminal freely chooses to commit

    any other opinion on the issue is, frankly, not morally or philosophically coherent

    although, for some you then, by all means, heckle the woman who gave away $$00K, since some of you honeslty and openly claim no moral high ground

    • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:58PM (#25751447)

      Sorry, but that's simply wrong.

      There are certain actions which you can take which, while not in any sense illegal, are virtually guaranteed to cause harm to yourself.

      Leaving a stack of money out for anyone to take is one of these. Playing along to an internet scam is another. And although I'm sure I'll get flamed for saying so, teasingly parading past men in a bad neighborhood while wearing a revealing outfit is another.

      Your fallacy is essentially in assuming that blame is a percentage which must be portioned out among the actors involved in the event. It is true that if I leave a stack of money out in plain view it is 100% the fault of the criminal for taking it. It is also 100% my fault for being a complete idiot.

      If I take an action which I know, or should have very good reason to know, will cause me harm even if that harm is illegal, then it is my fault for taking that action and I bear the blame for the consequences. It is also the fault of whoever actually does it to me, but that doesn't change the first part.

      People like this woman cause crime by making it pay off for the criminals. She deserves a whole heap of blame, just as much as the scammers do.

      • which is worse?:

        1. man falls asleep at wheel of truck, smashes into bus full of kids, kills 10. feels awful about it

        2. man carefully watches bus route for weeks, carefully plotting and calculating exactly when to smash into bus to kill children. he kills 2 children. he feels bad he didn't kill more

        #2 is absolutely many times more criminal than #1, even though he killed far less children. because of a magic concept which all legal codes understand: intent

        any legal code in the world has a difference of unders

        • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:09PM (#25751675)

          Intent has nothing to do with blame.

          I'm not talking about how much people should be punished. As far as I'm aware that was not even brought up in the thread. I am talking about whose fault a particular outcome is.

          If I carry out an action with well-known consequences then I am at fault for those consequences. This is true whether I'm parking illegally and getting a ticket, climbing a tree in a thunderstorm and getting struck by lightning, or giving a scammer money and getting ripped off.

          Certainly, what the scammer did was morally and legally wrong and what this woman did was not. But that is orthogonal to the fact that it is this woman's fault that she got ripped off. (And it is also the scammer's fault for ripping her off.)

        • by kv9 (697238) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:29PM (#25751993) Homepage
          maybe guy #2 should try the sleeping approach. this way, everybody wins?
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:25PM (#25751933) Homepage

        Your fallacy is essentially in assuming that blame is a percentage which must be portioned out among the actors involved in the event. It is true that if I leave a stack of money out in plain view it is 100% the fault of the criminal for taking it. It is also 100% my fault for being a complete idiot.

        Yes exactly. Blame is not a zero-sum game. Thinking otherwise is idiotic, or, in most cases, an attempt to deny blame using the false logic of "That person over there is to blame, therefore I cannot be blamed". If you don't think about it too hard it makes sense, but we shouldn't fall for such blatant illogic.

    • by sammyF70 (1154563) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:15PM (#25751785) Homepage Journal

      So, if you try to cross a 4 lane highway during rush hour and you end up underneath a truck, no blame should be put on you?

      Your logic relies heavily on the word "criminal". That's quite problematic, as its definition is not absolute. Crossing a highway IS criminally stupid. Falling for a well known scam and ignoring every warnings one is given is as stupid (though generally not as deadly). Spears saw it coming and didn't react, she is partially to blame for what happened to her.

    • by tuffy (10202) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:16PM (#25751791) Homepage Journal

      She gave the scammers money because they promised millions of dollars in return. Unlike a rape or armed robbery, it's the greed of the scam victims themselves that lures them into the scheme. Thus, they have some culpability in the crime that someone attacked on the street does not.

    • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @05:02PM (#25752567)

      Blaming the victim in this case is perfectly legitimate. Most long cons like this involve an appeal to the element of criminality on the part of the victim. Why would this woman think that she is entitled to pull millions of dollars worth of free money out of Africa?

      The basic Nigerian scam depicts a corrupt official stealing money who 'needs your help'. To fall for it isn't just stupid, it's venal.

  • by LockeOnLogic (723968) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @03:58PM (#25751435)
    There's some comedy gold in there, a few tidbits!

    "Janella Spears doesnt think shes a sucker or an easy mark."

    "They said President Bush and FBI Director "Robert Muller" (their spelling) were in on the deal and needed her help."

    "When Spears began to doubt the scam, she got letters from the President of Nigeria, FBI Director Mueller, and President Bush. Terrorists could get the money if she did not help, Bushâ(TM)s letter said. Spears continued to send funds."

    "Most of the missives were rife with misspellings."

    Priceless! ...okay i'm going to hell...
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:04PM (#25751563) Journal

    Thoughtfully, Spears has gone public with her story as a warning to others not to fall victim.

    Perhaps. But Occam's razor suggests that it never occurred to her that there might be a downside to publicly admitting to being this stupid, and she went public not "thoughtfully" as a "warning to others" but rather unthinkingly as a further example of what happens when you never think things through.

    --MarkusQ

  • sooo close (Score:5, Funny)

    by regular_gonzalez (926606) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:09PM (#25751661)
    Sure it seems like a tragedy now, but my gut feeling is that if she had sent one more payment, those millions would be in her bank account at this very moment. The same guy contacted me and I'm certain that with one or two more payments I will soon be rich beyond my wildest dreams. Remember kids, quitters never win and winners never quit.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:12PM (#25751707)
    I don't even keep a joint checking account with my wife... why the hell would I allow her access to my retirement savings? I'm also not clear on how she managed to remortgage the house without her husband's signature.
  • by enbody (472304) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:18PM (#25751831) Homepage

    I know a bank CEO who refused to transfer money for a Nigerian scam, and the woman accuses him of standing in the way of her making millions. A variety of people have spoken with her, but she is adamant. This standoff has existed for weeks. I don't know the final status.

    "You can fool some of the people all the time ..."

    • by Rastl (955935) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:58PM (#25752491) Journal

      I work for a bank but not anywhere near the money, thank goodness. During our annual compliance training there's a section on this kind of thing. We're supposed to try to dissuade the person but if they persist they need to physically sign a form that they're taking out the money against the advice of the bank.

      So while we can't refuse to give a person their money (assuming they haven't been declared incompetent) we can cover our own butts from future lawsuits by showing that the person was warned.

      Seems to me this person just didn't believe anyone. You can't reason with people like that. My money's on her falling for some other scam within the next five years. Especially since she thinks she can recoup her losses in under five years.

      Anyone up for the 'Recover your money from Nigerian scammers' scam? Or has that been done?

  • by noldrin (635339) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:26PM (#25751957)
    I have a customer who has now bought his "anti virus" twice from the malware program infecting his computer and still insists that his computer shouldn't be having any problems and refuses to buy our anti-virus software since he has "already paid for one"
  • by 32771 (906153) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @04:37PM (#25752103) Journal

    I'm sure she would spend $10 on that:

    http://www.despair.com/mis24x30prin.html [despair.com]

  • by webax (1034218) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @05:45PM (#25753239)
    "Spears said it would take her at least three to four years to dig out of the debt she ran up in pursuit of the non-existent pot of Nigerian gold."

    Call me amoral, but if she makes enough money that it only takes 3-4 years to get out of $400,000 in debt, I don't feel bad for her.

    I'm sure there are people blowing a couple year-s salaries in Vegas every day... they only have slightly better odds then her at getting money and are just as gullible.
  • by RomulusNR (29439) on Thursday November 13, 2008 @05:48PM (#25753285) Homepage

    Look, I don't get it.

    I'm not particularly ambitious, corporate-ladder wise, but I make decent money IMO.

    But I'm not insanely stupid with my money, either.

    Yet I don't have $400,000 to blow.

    If I did, I sure as fuck wouldn't give it to MR AKELE MBUMBA OF NIGERIA.

    What I don't understand is: How does someone so stupid have so much money?

    Anyone?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JSBiff (87824)

      ". . . her husband's retirement account. . ."

      Sounds like, while it was legally 'her' money by virtue of the marriage, she wasn't necessarily the one who worked her whole life to build up that nest egg.

      Still, I do feel sorry for her, even if she was kind of dumb, and for her husband (if he's still alive; I can't imagine he's still alive and allowed her to just empty their accounts; maybe he was brain damaged in an accident or otherwise out of the picture).

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