The Saga of the Afghan Princess – A 9/11 Terrorism Connection to Scams & Scammers

Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

The Saga of the Afghan Princess

A 9/11 Terrorism Connection to 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. & Scammers

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. Victim’s Story presented by SCARSSCARS 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.

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A Random Email From Afghanistan

In 2001 the SCARS founder was contacted by an Afghan Princess and almost lured into a scam being run by Al Qaeda

This is the true story of how terrorism is directly connected to scamming, and how it is used to derive a large portion of its revenue from scams.

The Beginning

This story begins before the attacks on September 11, 2001.

In early 2001, approximately in May, an email was received by one of our SCARS Directors from someone in Afghanistan, named Princess Kalifat Saikal.

That email is below.

Because this was different than the typical Nigerian Prince emails, he responded and began a dialog that lasted for several months.

Over the course of the next few months, there were many emails back and forth, and even phone calls from Afghanistan (confirmed to be from Afghanistan) and even calls he placed to the Kabul phone number he was given. Remember that this is before 9/11.

There was a strong sympathy play that was centered around the Princess and her daughters. Remember that it was in this period of time that the Taliban ruled the country, and would regularly execute young girls for doing things like reading books. When speaking to the Afghan Princess on the phone, there was “genuine” fear in her voice on this topic.

Her story was that she wanted to escape to America and needed help to find out how to do this. All the pieces fit to make a realistic picture. Wealthy foreigners can migrate to most countries if they have the cash to make an investment and pay the legal fees for the residency. She said she did or would have the money to do this, by selling precious stones mined in Afghanistan and shipping them to Europe to sell.

The Nature of the Scam was Two-fold

The Afghanis were interested in (supposedly) getting a business/investor residency in the United States, and to fund it, they were going to ship a crate of Lapis Lazuli – a real mineral mined in Afghanistan – to the Netherlands for sale.

By July, the shipment was supposedly on its way to Holland.

It arrived and our director was notified that he would have to pay a couple of thousands of dollars to remove the crate from Dutch Customs.

He spoke with the Afghanis in Rotterdam, Holland, and asked for copies of the shipping documents, but they did not provide them. He had extensive business relationships in the Netherlands and believed he could lower the fees.

During August 2001, our Director waited and had several terse calls and emails with the people in Holland who were supposed to get the stones, once the customs fees were paid, to a buyer to convert them into cash. Once the stones were sold the money would be deposited into an account in the United States. This all had the ring of truth and was all really possible. Except …

Over and over the Netherlands contacts were asked to provide the documents but did not. Emails sent from the Afghanis and even the woman called begging for the money so they could get the shipment out of customs. But our Director refused until he could try to reduce the fees. This was not so much that he smelled a rat, but something was clearly not right.

In the end, he refused until he was given the customs documents. This went back and forth until the end of August 2001. Then the communications ended. His last response was do not contact him again until you have the customs papers.

9/11

Like most of us, he saw the attack on September 11, 2001, on the news, and like much of the world was also in shock over the events that morning.

A couple of days later, the news started to come out that the terrorists were connected to Afghanistan. Needless to say, he panicked with the realization that he had spent months talking with Afghanistan was of concern. He did not want men in black showing up at his door at 3 am to arrest him on suspicion of terrorist or connection to terrorists, even though at that time he did not know they were. He immediately contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and reported the situation.

The next day, he met with an FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud. Special Agent and provided copies of all of the documents, emails, everything he had. Unfortunately, there was no follow up from the FBI.

By the beginning of November (two months after 9/11) he still had not heard anything from the FBI, and since this had a significant nexus in Holland, he contacted a business associate in the Netherlands for contact information with their national police (then called the “BVD”).

He called them the next day and explained the history in detail and gave all of the information about the Rotterdam group he had been talking to. He sent copies of the emails to the agency as well.

Once again, he heard nothing back. He called them (in Holland) in mid-December, and their reply was “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” He let the matter rest at that point and continued on with his own business.

The Story Concludes

At the beginning of February, he receives a call out of the blue on his cell phone while in his car. This made it impossible to take notes.

The caller identified himself as being with a different Netherlands government agency (the caller said it was their equivalent to the CIA). He made it clear that he was not calling and this call never happened but wanted to thank him for the information which allowed them to prevent a serious terrorist attack against the Queen of Holland at Christmas. There had been arrests in September of one cell, but they did not know about the additional group engaged in the scam. Because they were able to arrest that cell in the Netherlands, it led to others and they and other governments in Europe were able to stop other major incidents as well. In total, there were 12 terrorists arrested in Holland – 4 in September, and 8 more in December.

The Dutch agent explained in detail about the connections between African crime gangsGangs A gang is normally a group or society of associated criminals with a defined leadership and internal organization that identifies with or claims control over a territory or business practice in a community and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal, and possibly violent, behavior. Online gangs are not limited by territory and may operate side by side with other gangs while engaging in crime online. Some members of criminal gangs are initiated (by going through a process of initiation), or have to prove their loyalty and right to belong by committing certain acts, usually theft or violence, or rituals. Gangs are usually rougher and more visible than scammer cartels, and more often arrested. and Al Qaeda, especially at that time. There were very close connections to gangs in Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria. In each of these countries, they were engaged in terrorist fundraising using online crime, drugs, and human trafficking (and other means, from piracy to hijacking.) He told him that as much as 40% of Al Qaeda’s revenue (at that time) was from scamming & 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..

These incidents and arrests are confirmed here: 2001 bomb plot in Europe – Wikipedia

In a U.S. report to Congress in October 2002:

The Dutch Internal Security Agency reported in May 2002 that steppedup investigations had uncovered suspected terrorist cells in the Netherlands, along with evidence that extremist groups had been actively recruiting within the country’s large (5% of the population) Islamic community.

From a U.S. Air Force Intelligence Research Documents from 2008

In light of significant efforts to combat global terrorisms, terrorist organizations and their related smaller satellite cells have proven quite resilient. They constantly adapt to antiterrorism efforts through the use of technology and innovation, even to the point where it can be argued they are actually thriving in the cyber domain. They have already successfully leveraged the Internet to manipulate public opinion and gain sympathy for their cause. They have also found ways to translate this cyber success into ways of generating revenue in support of real world operations.

The Moral of this Story!

The point of all of this is not that a scam happened, but that it was a terrorist organization behind the scam. The scam was perpetrated to help fund their activities. We will never know how much more extensive it would have been if the money was paid, and our director traveled to Holland as was asked of him.

But it is very clear that this was part of a larger advanced organization using scamming to fund Al Qaeda.

By reporting it, even though the FBI or the BVD provided no feedback, the information was used to stop something terrible. In this case, one agent took it upon himself to convey their gratitude, but that is a rare exception – most scam victims never hear the outcomes. It makes the point of how incredibly important reporting really is.

Reporting scams helps governments understand the total scope of the crime, and these scams specifically, and also empowers the victim by allowing them to take meaningful action. It does not matter if the police provide feedback, but it is a duty that every victim has to do the right thing.

Remember just one thing, every crime should be reported because criminals are not always apprehended from your report, but when they are, your report becomes part of the charges that can put them away. Today only about 3% of victims report these crimes. Just imagine how much more could be done if 100% were reported.

The Original Email

From: Zayyad Mines Ltd [k-saikal@paki.com]

Subject: Investment Inquiry

Good day, Please allow me to introduce myself; my name is Princess Kalifat Saikal the owner of Zayyad Mines Ltd. here in, Afghanistan. My Family business goes as far back as 40 years in mining. Our company was doing well, until the invasion by the then Soviet Union at which period all our assets and investment as well as our families were almost totally wiped out. However as almighty Allah will have it, the Soviets pulled out. After several years of struggling, we were able build back our business, and despite the political instability caused by the struggle for power by the various political factions here, our business was able to blossom. Today it is a sour and sad story for us. The government currently in power (The Taliban) in our region (for some years now), have made it impossible for us to continue. This is mainly because of their Extremist Islamic policy, which is totally against a woman being the head of an organization – especially a thriving one as ours. They (the Taliban) are a barbaric authority which humiliates women and discriminates against them. Being the sole heir of my family business, I am given no choice but to fold up. I truly can no longer continue. As such we seek to invest outside my country. I thus seek a foreign partner, who will advise and assist me in investment opportunities, especially in your country . Hence my writing to you today. By the grace of Almighty Allah, I am hoping that with your assistance and guidance, we will be able to proceed immediately with this investment venture, to be of mutual benefit for us and our families. I am trusting that my investment by you shall be guaranteed. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Blessings of Allah be with you, Princess Kalifat Saikal, Zayyad Mines Ltd, Charika, Afghanistan.

Summary

Today, 20 years later we all would recognize this (we hope) as a scam email, but 20 years ago this looked very real, even though our director had 10 years of experience.

This is was not what was expected, and at the time almost no one knew about the scam terror connection.

It points out that intellectually everyone can be scammed. Knowledge is not enough, it takes changing your behaviors. If you make the effort to understand and implement the STOP, THINK, Act approach as a change to your behaviorBehavior   Behavior / Behavioral Actions Otherwise known as habits, behavior or behavioral actions are strategies to help prevent online exploitation that target behavior, such as social engineering of victims. Changing your behavior is the ONLY effective means to reduce or prevent scams. then you can make yourself more scam resistant. But just thinking will not help you.

More Information: Al-Qaeda suspects go on trial in the Netherlands (irishtimes.com)

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

U.S. FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?orgcode=SCARS and SCARS at www.Anyscams.com

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By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
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