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September 2010

It has become apparent that a scammer is targetting amateur radio operators worldwide by impersonating UK callsign holders. I have recently been impersonated and the details sent to me by potential victims have revealed how the scam works:

  • The criminal finds details of a UK callsign holder on qrz.com and creates a fake email address on gmail - the one used to impersonate me was arg7kpfgayne@gmail.com .
  • The criminal then trawls forums and newsboards looking for 'Wanted' adverts, especially it seems for non-UK based potential victims.
  • An email is sent to the potential victim offering the item wanted, apparently at a reasonable price (so the criminal may have some amateur radio knowledge). The email contains the name, callsign and full address of the UK amateur being impersonated, the details being identical to those found on qrz.com.
  • The criminal requests payment be sent to his 'friend' via Western Union. This should ring alarm bells for anyone with experience of transactions on the web, but not everyone is aware of the danger of using Western Union for money transfer - it is effectively untraceable.
  • If a victim is taken in by this and sends the money, the criminal sends a link back to the victim for the 'courier web site' where tracking details of the shipment can be found. This is also a fake page set up on a free hosting web site, and is designed to make the victim think the goods are in transit.

Of course the goods will never arrive and the victim's money has been stolen. Below is an extract from an actual email from the criminal, showing how he wants his 'friend' to receive the money:

Well payment will be sent via Western Union to a friend in London as i am willing to give away the money..

Henry Ozorewor,320 North Circular Road, Palmers Green London N13 5UU

Once payment has been sone,you can get back to me with details such as the Name and address of sender and MTCN but remember that amount to send is £xxx.

Once i have confirmed payment,i will go on with the shipment to your shipping address and definitely write back the item shipment tracking number for proof..

As you can see the grammar is quite poor, and together with the name given this indicates the criminal is probably of African origin - I doubt this is his real name or address but he will have fake identification in order to collect the Western Union transfers.

So, to avoid being caught out follow these simple rules:

  1. Never, ever, ever send money by Western Union or any similar money transfer service to someone you do not know.
  2. If an amateur responds to a wanted advert then search for their web site or look them up on qrz.com to find an email address for them, and see if it matches.
  3. If someone requests payment by Western Union then walk away, and consider sending details of your communication with them to the police.

I'm sure that this scam will continue as long as there are victims to be found, so please feel free to post links to this web page on any forums and newsgroups you frequent, so that the message is spread as far and wide as possible.

If you have been caught out, collect as much detail as possible (printouts of emails with full header information) and take them to your local police. It's unlikely you will ever see your money again, but hopefully the criminal will be stupid enough to make the mistakes needed for the law enforcement agencies to trace 'Henry' and put an end to his thieving ways.

Please notify Andy G7KPF of any errors or failed links.

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This page added September 13th 2010. Updated: frequently!