Chapter 22. The Broken Nest Egg


The anonymity of the Internet and the embarrassment of victims offer shelter to many modern fraudsters. In this case, the victim waited six months to report the crime to his local sheriff's office and was unable to provide accurate information to trace the identity of his offenders. To hide their identities and facilitate the crime, the perpetrators used the names of real and legitimate-sounding fake companies to gain the confidence of the victim, Edwin van Clarke.

The fraudsters initially made contact with van Clarke in November through an e-mail purportedly from Perez and Hamilton Consulting, Ltd., in London. According to the e-mail, the firm was attempting to locate the relatives of a Belgian man who had died a year earlier and had left behind a savings account at Buchwald Bank with $8.37 million in it. According to the e-mail, the deceased and the recipient shared the same surname — van Clarke. The e-mail asked Edwin van Clarke three questions:

  1. Are you aware of any relative whose last contact address was in Brussels, Belgium?

  2. Who shares a similar name?

  3. Whose date of birth on file was July 27, 1932?

Although van Clarke did not respond to the initial e-mail because he was sure it was a case of mistaken identity, the perpetrators were undeterred. They contacted van Clarke nine days later, on December 3. The second e-mail was purportedly from William Smythe, Global Head of Offshore Banking at Buchwald Bank. Smythe identified himself as ...

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