SIKESTON -- Recent investigations by the Sikeston Department of Public Safety into Nigerian scams have resulted in an arrest.
Last week, DPS served a search warrant related to identity theft and receiving stolen property, both of which are felony offenses.
In addition to arresting one subject for their part in these crimes, another subject is still being sought for their involvement, DPS officials said.
In this case, stolen credit card numbers were obtained by persons in Nigeria who then ordered more than $15,000 of property online.
Because of U.S. shipping constraints, the offenders had to have the property sent to U.S. residents. Sgt. Jim McMillen, public Information officer at DPS, explained typically in this type of scam the resident is told to keep a small portion of the property while shipping a larger portion to the original offender in Nigeria. The shipping cost is often paid for by the same credit card the fraudulent purchases were made with, another credit card, or by other fraudulent means.
In the recent case which led to an arrest, DPS learned stolen property was being delivered to an address in Sikeston by a major shipping company. Detective John Blakely posed as a delivery driver and witnessed firsthand the subjects receiving stolen property, according to the news release.
More than $1,300 of stolen property was recovered and detectives were able to stop more stolen property from leaving the country.
Recent television commercials warning the public about Nigerian scams, also known as a 419 scams, indicates they are becoming more common, according to the news release.
Another "common scam happens when counterfeit checks are mailed from Nigeria and other foreign countries to persons in the United States. The person(s) who mails these bad checks will often offer the U.S. resident a small amount of money to cash this fraudulent check for them," said McMillen. "The agreement involves the U.S. resident mailing a large portion of the funds back to Nigeria or elsewhere."
Residents are often tricked or misled into this involvement by a fictitious story, he continued. It is the U.S. resident, however, who will be held responsible for cashing the check. "You could be charged with a crime and/or have to pay all of this money back," McMillen said.
Due to international laws, the offenders in Nigeria, Canada or elsewhere are rarely held responsible in these cases, McMillen said.
"This is why these types of scams from foreign lands are becoming very popular here in the U.S.," McMillen said. "U.S. citizens should be forewarned and not fall into this trap."