back to article Cameroonians cleared in 'surreal' dyed banknote scam

Two Cameroonian cousins of the Lads from Lagos, who took a Spanish property developer for €200k in a classic "black money" ploy, have been cleared of any wrongdoing on the grounds that "not even the naïvest person would have believed" the "surreal and incredible" dyed banknotes scam. A court in Valencia heard this week how …


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  1. The Indomitable Gall


    As most conmen pick out naive marks of below-average intelligence, doesn't that mean fraud is effectively legal in Spain? Jolín....

  2. Chris Hunt


    So it's LEGAL in spain to defraud stupid people?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh god, no!

      Only knee-wobblingly moronic people hoping to get rich illegally.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So its legal

    To con stupid people in Spain, or people with altzimers etc...

    I predict a massive increase in emails going from Nigeria to Spain now

    1. Tricky Dicky

      It doesn't matter -

      The Nigerians will send the emails in English

      1. Andy Hards


        You're kidding right?

  4. Andy ORourke
    Thumb Up

    just goes to show.....

    You can't con an honest man (or there's one born every minute or a fool and his money..... well you get the drift)

    Look, I know it's wrong, I know this guy lost out but somewhere, deep down don't you just have a little admiration for these tyeps of scam?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: just goes to show.....

      "somewhere, deep down don't you just have a little admiration for these tyeps of scam?"

      No, no I don't. Years ago, I was an active member of, scamwarners and such sites. I saw firsthand the ruin in which these scum leave their victims, and know of at least one who took his own life. The scammers didn't care, they see it as taking what they're owed by the rich Westerners - so you go ahead and have admiration for their ingenuity, and I'll carry on wishing them pain and death.

      Anon - first lesson of 419eater was always stay safe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: just goes to show.....

        >they see it as taking what they're owed by the rich Westerners

        If that is what you think is their justification for their scams then maybe if the rich westerners gave back a fraction of what they take out of the Niger Delta there would be no need for these scams in the first place.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: just goes to show

          Uh, no. That would be the corrupt officials and military - who live in absolute luxury even compared to western counterparts. Same thing with Zimbabwe - the "president" lives in a gold-adorned mansions with private jet, dozens of cars, etc; while the population lives in squalor.

          Off topic somewhat, but you needed to be corrected.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC 28/01/2011 11:40

            >That would be the corrupt officials and military

            There are more productive ways of giving back than giving money which as you say may go straight to corrupt officials. They could improve infrastructure or build low cost housing both creating jobs in the process for example.

            The officials could still get their cut but the major beneficiaries would be the people.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @ @AC 28/01/2011 11:40

              Ah but then the same officials will just introduce a "living in a home" or even better, "living under a roof" tax, which again will push the same people out. This happened in my homeland - lots of international people came, built houses at their own cost, and the government simply took them and gave them to the highest bidder of those that had done the most favors.

              Does not take a genius to understand...

      2. Anonymous Coward

        re: I saw firsthand the ruin

        Most of the people who fall for these scams are just motivated by greed, so probably aren't deserving of too much sympathy. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be protected by the law.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        oh boohoo

        he lost out because his greed overrode his common sense.

        I recall my father receiving one of the 419 scam letters back in the early 80's (yes this scam has been going a long time). He didn't know it was a scam, but he read it, considered it and then tossed it in the trash because it didn't sound legitimate.

        Likewise just this week someone tried to pull a 419 scam on my wife and I using ebay (we just started using ebay this week and while they may not have claimed to have millions they needed to smuggle out of some backwater country - but it was still an advance fee scam). We spotted it straight away and avoided losing money.

        You don't have to be a genius to spot these scams, and if you decide to risk some money on the off chance it is legitimate don't expect sympathy from me if you gambled with money you couldn't afford to lose

        1. Dave 15


          The problem is that many of those stupid enough to fall for these internet scams are allowed to vote. They fall for the scams the politicians spin all the time. In fact, many people seem happy to repeatedly vote for being s*****d by the same politicians time after time after time, this is a scam older and worse than anything from nigeria et al.

          Of course the nigerians et al are failing to notice the totally legal versions of their scam that is permissable in England...

          Buy some goods from a shop (say a sofa) that is to be delivered next week. Pay your money. Watch the company go into 'administration', the tax man and banks will get their loans back, the people who paid for goods will never see them. Perpetrated on me by 'World of Leather' who have been through a name change a year since then, repeating the scam after every new year sale.


          You can sign up with one of the executive search agencies now advertising on TV - pay your money and of course they will find you a very well paid 50k a year plus job - except they won't. Fortunately I didn't get caught up with that one


          Buy any one of the myriad books on getting rich quick

          Or .....




          Many versions of the scam that promisses something later for a small investment now, all perfectly legal

  5. HP Cynic

    Ridiculous verdict

    It does not matter that the victim was daft enough to fall for it, the intent and the actions were entirely fraudulent and criminal.

    Sounds like the rule protects criminals as long as they prey on dim and/or vulnerable people.

    1. Random Glitch

      Survival of the wittiest

      The new natural selection?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Right sentiments, wrong outcome

      The judge should have locked them all up, scammers and victim. Stupid or not, the "victim" was clearly willing to be an accessory to the fraud.

  6. Code Monkey

    I always thought...

    I always thought you can't trust Cameron.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Hang on a moment.

    You mean there's a legal system out there that *doesn't* reward people handsomely for being as dumb as a bag of hammers?

    If this catches on, Darwin might stop spinning in his grave.

  8. Gordon Barret


    This is ridiculously wrong! It does not matter if the victim was a genius, a person of average intelligence or a dimwit - the intent to defraud is clearly there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ... quite accurately describes the victim who let greed overcome what shred of honesty he might have previously possessed. He, like most, if not all, advance fee fraud (419 scam) victims was prepared to commit a crime to satisfy his greed.

      He and they will get no sympathy from me

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Unfortunately, letting them get away scot free does not send a good sign to other scammers out there, who will now think they can get away with it even more. Expect a big surge in 911 scams as a result.

        In the UK ignorance is no legal defence, whereas it seem Spain is now the opposite - if crims can get away with saying their mark was too stupid, why not the other way round? Bad precedent.

  9. The Nameless Mist

    stupid is as stupid does ?

    this is why I don't live in Spain.

    that and their habit of letting Brits buy up land, improve it with housing, drive the land prices up and then go "oops . .your original permission was invalid" and dozing the house down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: stupid is as stupid does ?

      >this is why I don't live in Spain.

      Honestly, I don't care what your reason is, I'm just glad you don't.

      1. Baskitcaise

        Anonymous Coward?

        You sir are Lester Haines and I claim my £ 5:00p

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          No he/she isn't. So if you care to send my 5.00 GBP to El Reg I'm sure they'll find a way of forwarding it to me. Or better still give it to charity.

  10. Sampler

    As a counter point

    Does his own testimony allow the cops to charge him for (attempting to) traffic the cash?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Made me smile though

    Whilst the ruling may be absurd (as it legalises preying on the vulnerable), a small part or me (as with a previous poster) does admire the ingenuity of some scam artists, whilst also relishing the down-fall of greedy people (marks). Perhaps that is why I, like many others, enjoy watching Hustle (or even The Sting, for those of an older persuasion) - and let's face it we're always on the scammers side in that program (and film).

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      Legal scam

      If you like that you'll like this one that was executed a good 15 years ago. These types eventually got caught with somewhere else because they got greedy.

      They bought themselves some rubber play articles and advertised them at 50% of the going rate in mags. They ran the ad and collected payments for a good month, then wrote everyone except the first few a letter that they had ran out of stock and enclosed a cheque with a refund. Because they had actual stock that was sent to the first few it could not be labelled as a scam, and because they refunded everyone there was no grip on them there either. They closed the company a while later, taking ample proceeds with them.

      It wasn't their fault that a large part of their victims were reluctant to take a refund cheque to their bank made out in the name of the Large Rubber Dildo Company..

      Social engineering - it existed well before anyone called it that way..

      1. tony trolle

        film plot


  12. RichardB

    Presumably in spain

    if you don't bother to put a passcode on your answer phone its open to the world, right?

    Like it should be anywhere sensible.

    Incidentally, if a squatter is faced with a combination lock with the _default_ manufacturers code, and lets himself in, is that breakin and entry? Or non secured property?

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Non secured property mate

      especially if you've done the same to the investigating police officer and discovered info that's got him on-message already.

  13. Richard C.

    The police should help

    The police should help him prosecute them - after they've charged him with illegal money laundering: after all, he did try to "assist" these people by "smuggling" funds into the country.

  14. John Savard


    The original fugitives obviously obtained money from someone through deceit. How insidious their scheme was, or was not, is irrelevant. People who try to defraud others are dishonest, and dishonest people need to be stopped without regard for how effective they may be at it.

  15. theSensibleGeek

    useless title

    You can't cheat an honest man...

    1. zb
      Thumb Down

      Of course you can

      Lots of honest people fall for scams. They are usually hard luck stories or appeals for fake charities. Look at the wikipedia entry for MFPA or search using keywords like scam hard luck story.

  16. Graham Bartlett

    One point missed

    The scammers were saying they'd committed a crime (smuggling money into the country illegally). This guy's money was going to be used to help cover up this crime, and he knew it. The only reason he wasn't also guilty of that crime was bcos he got scammed. So he's actually rather lucky that the Spanish didn't charge him with attempting to defraud the revenue (whatever that's officially called in Spain).

    I agree that the scammers should have been done for this, but I do have some sympathy with the judge's POV. If you're truly that stupid, it's your problem.

  17. Ilsa Loving

    Should punish everyone involved.

    I think a better outcome would have been to arrest the fugitives but still let them keep the money. I have to agree with the judge that the victim got what he deserved. I mean, what next? Permit someone to sue because they're told gold will fountain out of their nostrils if they shove their arms into a running wood chipper, and actually believed it?

    It's time to stop coddling people who are so stupid that they can't be bothered to do even the most trivial of due diligence.

  18. Charles Smith

    Missing the opportunity.

    The "mark" in this case really missed out on the opportunity to have a lot of fun at the scammers' expense & time.

    I spent an hour on the phone today trying to convince an unsolicited scam caller to let me pay in "Natural Colour Diamonds" for the excellent property investment in Brazil.

    The Natural Colour Diamonds were offered to me in another unsolicited call last week. All of these wonderful investment opportunities! I wonder if I can get some of those dyed banknotes to help pay for the investments.

    I'm sorry, but these type of scam schemes are so obvious. Anyone who falls for them should not be trusted to hold funds.

  19. Chaosechoz

    Ah my poor fellow countrymen.

    I will be the first to admit (being Spanish myself!) that the majority of Banking Officials in Spain are as stupid as pig-shit... No more so, than Spanish bankers who (above their already over paid jobs) seeks a 12% ROI for doing practically nothing.

    "A fool and his money are so fondly parted. By cleaver people..." Would be the ultimate saying :D


    "Like taking Cash Candy from a stupid overweight banker in broad daylight and on foot."

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