Anatomy of a Scam: Completely Fake Businesses

Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

Find Real ScammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. & Fake Stolen Photos On ScamsONLINE.org
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Anatomy of a ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.: Completely Fake Businesses

Scammers create the appearance of completely real businesses to scam you!

A Scam Warning

A Different Kind of  Nigerian Scam!

This is a new Nigerian Money Scam Creating Fake Companies

This is not a Dating ScamDating scam Dating scammers or love scammers create fake identities on dating apps and social media to coax you into fake online relationships. They often quickly move to personal channels such as phone or email, using your trust to acquire money or personal info, or help you hide their criminal activities. You'll probably never meet them in person. This is a relationship scam., but it comes from the same people in Nigeria that engage in dating scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost., and this one could actually land the victim in jail.

For these reasons we have decided to highlight it here, to make you and others aware of its existence.

The Basic Idea:

A legitimate investment company contacts you innocently enough through either social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter) or even through dating websites.  The message speaks about financing, loans, or investments that they offer at low-interest rates (typically 3% to 4%).  They invite you to apply or send your business plan.

The person that contacts you appears to have a legitimate email address from the “real” company.  In fact, if you go to the company’s website, and contact them, they confirm the person that contacted you.

There is only one problem, ok maybe many problems.  The emails come from Nigeria (IP AddressGeolocation Geolocation is the utilization of a device IP address, along with other device signals, to determine geographical location. An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as 192.0.2.1 that is connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two main functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing. An IP Address can be used to locate a physical computer's location.: 41.190.3.4), not where you think they do.

Abdullah Nasir, CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

Here is a typical first contact:

Abdullah Nasir, CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

Abdullah Nasir, CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

The Text:

LinkedIn InMail · Job inquiry

RE: Thank you

Abdullah Nasir, CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

September 16, 2014 8:44 AM

Dear 

Thank you for your email.We will be interested to invest as a debt finance at 4% and what we need for our review is the business plan and executive summary.All questions should be directed to him for a more comprehensive answer.

If you have interest kindly send your proposal to our project finance manager’s official email address as stated below for further details.

Email: ahmedsaaf@esteradinvestments.com
Name: Ahmed Saaf.

Looking forward to building a strong business relationship with you.

Regards,
Abdullah.

Abdullah Nasir CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

Abdullah Nasir
CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

Notice that for a businessman of his age, he has vey limited work experience in his profile.  Ironically, MANY people have endorsed this profile for his skills, yet none of them know him!!!  Sheep being led to slaughter.

He also claims to have gone to a minor U.S. University, which is also not typical for an affluent Arab businessman.

Abdullah Nasir CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

Abdullah Nasir
CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting

Of course, the kicker is that a TinEye search of the profile photo shows that it is actually the Bahrain Minister of Defence!  [clue: always do a photo search even if you don’t smell a rat!]

Following up on this, we naturally contacted the company involved:  Esterad Investments through their website: www.esteradinvestments.com   which appears to be VERY REAL!  BUT IT’s NOT – this is how go the Nigerians now are!

The WEBSITE

The website itself:

http://esteradinvestments.com/

http://esteradinvestments.com/

According to WHOIS, the website is hosted in the U.S. and the Domain Registered in Panama [very abnormal for any real business]:

Tech Name: Domain Administrator
Tech Organization: Fundacion Private Whois
Tech Street: Attn: esteradinvestments.com, Aptds. 0850-00056
Tech City: Panama
Tech State/Province: 
Tech Postal Code: Zona 15
Tech Country: PA
Tech Phone: +507.65967959
Tech Phone Ext: 
Tech Fax: 
Tech Fax Ext: 
Tech Email: 53ebd4c5ctzg2wmb@5225b4d0pi3627q9.privatewhois.net
Name Server: ns1.ok2host.com
Name Server: ns2.ok2host.com

This is a post office box in Panama!  For a Bahrain company!

According to the real reviews of the company, the real web address is: www.esterad.net  which is currently under construction.

According to “BusinessWeek”: Esterad Investment Company BSC is a publicly owned investment manager. The firm invests in the public equity, fixed income, and alternative investment markets across the globe. Its alternative investments include investment in private equity and real estate markets. The fund’s public equity investments are spread across the Arab stock markets and investments in the international markets through third-party managers. Esterad Investment Company BSC was founded in 1973 and is based in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain.  But the website says they were founded in 1997 [remember to always look at the details, this is where scammers slip up!]

EMAILS

In following up about the legitimacy of this initial contact, the following emails were exchanged:

#1: Sent to: info@esteradinvestments.com

Dear Sirs,

I have been contacted by someone from your company on LinkedIn, using the profile:

I mean no disrespect, but in a world of scams, I wanted to confirm that this person is a representative of your company before I proceed.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to you information.

Warmest regards,

#2: Reply from info@esteradinvestments.com

Dear xxx,

 The link you sent expired.What is the persons name and who did he ask you to contact.

 You are right in finding out and i will like to know more about the person.Looking forward to your reply.

Regards,

Noorruddin A. Noorruddin

[No, the link had not expired – but does require a LinkedIn login – which he should have had.]

#3: To info@esteradinvestments.com

Mr.  Noorruddin,

Thank you for your quick reply.

It is ironic, in that I am potentially interested in working with your company.  I have developed a very extensive new business plan to launch a new business here in the United States that I would like to discuss.  This is why I wanted to confirm if the message I received was real.

However, I suspected that this contact might have been false, because it is using the photo of one of your government officials, but with a different name. 

The name used on the LinkedIn profile is:  Abdullah Nasir, CEO at Abdullah Investment Consulting ahmedsaaf@esteradinvestments.com   Here is a link to his profile on LinkedIn:

Thank you again for your rapid and gracious reply.

Warmest regards,

#4: Reply from info@esteradinvestments.com

Dear xxx,

 Thank you for the link and the PDF file.He is one of our registered brokers and he is genuine.Kindly proceed with your transaction with him.We are aware of him using our name because he is registered with us.

 Are you in need of project financing?You can discuss with him or can present the project directly to us for review.

Regards,
Noorruddin A. Noorruddin

[This was an odd reply from the “CEO” of a major investment group.  Scammers never quite know how business works, or what formal business communications are like.]

#5: To info@esteradinvestments.com

Thank you for your reply.

I am curious, why is he using someone else’s photo?  Is that photo not of your Minister of Defense?

[Now we are getting to the meat of the mystery!]

#6: Reply from info@esteradinvestments.com – Love this one!

Dear xxx,
We Arabs look the same in the sight of foreigners.That is his picture and not the picture of the Minister of Defense.
Regards,
Noorruddin A. Noorruddin

[The CEO of a major Arab Investment Group didn’t just say that?  Yes, He Did!  Of course, it was a scammer in Nigeria that said that!  No business person in their right mind would ever say such a thing in writing!]

Conclusion

This is not isolated, there are multiple scams the follow a similar approach out there.  Be careful!

In short, always look at the details.

In this case, the profile was “off” – not enough substance for a professional of that man’s age, not enough work history.

The website was “wrong” and had details that were inconsistent with other published information.

The emails also proved to be the final proof of fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. coming from Nigeria [we checked the email properties to find the IP address that confirmed they were from Nigeria.]

Always Be On Guard And Verify Everything!

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SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated

By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.

A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
To Learn More, Volunteer, or Donate Visit: www.AgainstScams.org
Contact Us: Contact@AgainstScams.org

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SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated

By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
To Learn More, Volunteer, or Donate Visit: www.AgainstScams.org
Contact Us: Contact@AgainstScams.org

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