(Last Updated On: March 24, 2022)

The Spanish Prisoner 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.

The Spanish Prisoner is a confidence trickConfidence trick 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. originating by at least the early 19th century, as Eugène François Vidocq described in his memoirs

How 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. Work

A 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. Insight

Reprinted from Slate »

The Spanish Prisoner, the Treasure-Dangling Scam That Won’t Die

“A man in this country receives a letter from a foreign city,” reads a New York Times trend story from 1898, about a “common” scam being carried out by mail.

Titled “AN OLD SWINDLE REVIVED”, the story details how the “Spanish Prisoner” scam generally begins:

“The writer is always in jail because of some political offense. He always has some large sum of money hid, and is invariably anxious that it should be recovered and used to take care of his young and helpless daughter by some honest man. He knows of the prudence and good character of the recipient of the letter through a mutual friend, whom he does not mention for reasons of caution, and appeals to him in time of extremity for help.”

Postal shakedowns were a simple, and sometimes effective, way of illicitly separating rich people from their money in the 19th century. What was in it for the good Samaritan, just opening his mail on a boring day? Well, the sender of the letter “is willing to give one-third of the concealed fortune to the man who will recover it,” according to the Times.

What happens next is the ask: Before the treasure can be recovered, the writer just needs some money sent to him first. (The treasure, of course, never materializes.)

Sound familiar? The so-called “Spanish Prisoner” scam is still around: Just this week, a top Nigerian 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. artist was arrested for his part in carrying out similar swindles via email. And the 1898 Times description of the scam’s broad outlines remains remarkably accurate, save for a few technological details.

The swindle came to be known as the “Spanish Prisoner” because, often, the letter writer claimed to be holed up in a Spanish jail, for reasons arising from the Spanish-American War. “The letter is written on thin, blue, cross-lined paper, such as is used for foreign letters, and is written as fairly well-educated foreigners write English, with a word misspelled here and there, and an occasional foreign idiom,” the 118-year-old Times story notes.

Modern readers, though, are likely more familiar with its more modern variant: official-looking emails from Nigeria, which ask the recipient to send money—often thousands of dollars—to unlock a massive treasure, which has been tied up by government officials or otherwise encumbered in some abstruse way.

As in 1898, these entreaties at first blush might seem real but upon closer inspection hardly hold up. The English is a little broken, and the “official” seal of some Nigerian government agency doesn’t seem quite right. There’s an air of too much desperation.

And, yet, still, people fall for it, since the conceit of the scam isn’t that it will work every time, or even one out of a hundred times. You only need a few suckers, in other words, to make millions.

One victim in the U.S. lost $5.6 million to scammers.

The recently arrested Nigerian Spam Kingpin was said to have hauled in around $60 million in ill-gotten gains.

But even in the days when you had to hand-write letters the scam was astonishingly successful. Eugène François Vidocq, who is called the father of criminology, documented in his memoirs a version of it perpetrated by prisoners in early 19th-century France. This was well before the Spanish-American War, when the scheme was then known as “letters from Jerusalem.”

Vidocq, who, before he founded France’s civilian police corps was a criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. himself, saw firsthand the letters while he was imprisoned in a jail in Bicètre, in rural France.

Eugène François Vidocq. Portrait by Achille Devéria.

“Sir,—You will doubtlessly be astonished at receiving a letter from a person unknown to you,” one such letter began, according to Vidocq’s recollection. The structure of this letter is savvy. Before unleashing his tale of woe, the writer offers the carrot first: a casket containing 16,000 francs in gold as well as diamonds, which the writer says he and his master were forced to leave behind after they were detained while traveling. Having laid out the stakes, he continues, writing of his eventual supposed imprisonment, before, finally, they ask, which in this case is very subtle: “I beg to know if I cannot, through your aid, obtain the casket in question and get a portion of the money which it contains. I could then supply my immediate necessities and pay my counsel, who dictates this and assures me that by some presents, I could extricate myself from this affair.”

Vidocq wrote that 20 percent of such letters received some kind of reply, and, in some cases, prisoners made hundreds of francs from the letters, which were tacitly allowed by jailers, who would also take a cut.

Fast forward nearly 200 years to the 1980s, when scammers in Nigeria began to send reams of paper letters to people across the world. By the 1990s, they used fax machines and, by the late 1990s, had switched to email.

In the most recent case, a man known only as “Mike,” was arrested, according to the BBC. Over the years, Mike oversaw dozens of people who sent an untold number of emails out across the world, from the U.S. to India to Romania, using the digital age to realize the full potential of the swindle.

Bank of Nigeria Warning 1085 About Spanish Prisoner Scams

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This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS. counselingCounseling Counseling is the professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes. A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. They may also work with "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". SCARS does not provide mental health counseling. or therapy, qualified support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers., or completely independent – on your own!

The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.

After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.

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As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.

The Official SCARS RED BOOK is your way of recording all the important facts of this crime so that you do not lose essential information, Complete the RED BOOK then put it away with the confidence that you will have it if or when it is needed.

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This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.

The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.

Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.

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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.

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