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Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:14 pm
by Arthur Rubin
A customer on JustAnswer.com reported he was having trouble activating a Visa Electron card from Kenya, issued by a bank in the Bahamas, in his home country (which I decline to name). I let him know it looked like a 419 scam, and he seems to have accepted my answer.

I think the few dollars/euros he spent on me may help him avoid future expenditures trying to "activate" the card.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:17 pm
by TheNewSaint
How exactly would a 419/debit card scam work? Is the pitch "this card has money on it which I need your help to access", with a phony "activation hotline" number?

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:36 pm
by noblepa
I've gotten emails, saying that the Nigerian Prince/Dead President/Banker/Government Official wants to give me 27 bazillion dollars loaded onto a prepaid debit card.

I think they want me to send several hundred dollars to get the card through customs or something.

If I ever got a card, I'm sure that I would not be able to activate it. That's probably what happened to this guy. He sent $300-400 to Nigeria and now he can't access his millions.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:44 pm
by TheNewSaint
Oh, so they pay to receive a worthless card, and call a real activation number that can't do anything with it.

Which makes this 419 variant particularly dumb. Ordinary people may not know the workings of bank account requirements, shared accounts and international transfers. But they should know how debit cards work. Or at least wonder why the other party can't activate the card themselves via the same mechanism they're asking you to do.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:27 pm
by notorial dissent
What I have NEVER been able to understand is why, if someone has all this money to hand out that they can't don't pay/cover the insurance/handling/courier/mail/activation/whatever fees on their end when they send it out. That little gap of logic has always stuck out to me in every one of these I've seen and yet people will willingly hand out money to someone they don't know, which is of course how they make their money.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:29 pm
by noblepa
TheNewSaint wrote:Oh, so they pay to receive a worthless card, and call a real activation number that can't do anything with it.

Which makes this 419 variant particularly dumb. Ordinary people may not know the workings of bank account requirements, shared accounts and international transfers. But they should know how debit cards work. Or at least wonder why the other party can't activate the card themselves via the same mechanism they're asking you to do.


That's how I believe the scam works. I'm surprised he actually got the card.

To be fair, we're all used to calling to activate a new credit or debit card, so that doesn't seem to be too absurd to be believable.

However, if you make it past the idea that a perfect stranger in Nigeria or Kenya wants to give you several million dollars, without a red flag going up, you'll probably believe anything. That's the part I can never understand.

I don't know about you, but I don't know any Nigerian princes, and, as much as I would like to, I can't believe that a perfect stranger wants to give me millions of dollars.

I also get the ones where a banker wants my help in, essentially, smuggling millions of dollars in funds from a deceased depositor, out of the country. Even if this were true, which of course it isn't, it would be theft and money laundering, probably crimes in both countries.

If someone contacted me and said that he was the bank manager down the street and he wanted my help in embezzling money from a deceased depositor's account, most people would run. But, when its someone you don't know and can't check up on, that seems to make it all true.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:30 pm
by The Observer
My cousin received a call a couple of days ago, from a person claiming to be a Visa employee. This person told her that they had detected that someone was attempting to use her Visa number in Nigeria to charge $600 worth of merchandise. Of course, in order to "help" my cousin block the fraudulent charge, the "Visa employee" requested that she provide them with her credit card number after they provide her with the first 4 digits of her number. She told him that she was not going to provide the umber since she had no way of knowing who the caller was. His response was that he was a supervisor and that it would be all right for her to give out the number. She told him she would handle it herself by going ot her back and contesting the charge, then hung up.

The same scammer called back an hour later and again tried the same story. My cousin told him that she already had contacted Visa about his call, and he immediately hung up.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:50 pm
by noblepa
I got an email a few years ago that was so original, I kept it, but now I can't find it.

It was from someone claiming to be from the Nigerian Department of Justice, I think. He had been given the task of locating and compensating victims of the 419 scams. He was prepared to help me recover my funds, if only I would send him all my personal information, including bank accounts, etc.

That was a new one. I don't think I've gotten one like it since. I guess they figured that, if someone was stupid enough to give them all that information once, they might be stupid enough to do it again.

For me, the strangest thing about all of these scams is that they want to give me millions of dollars (or Euros, or British Pounds), yet they don't know my name.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:04 pm
by Burnaby49
My wife is currently getting multiple messages on her phone saying that someone is using her Apple account to buy things and she needs to respond to the message immediately. She asked me if it was a fake. Turns out she doesn't have credit or debit card information connected to her phone so I asked her how anyone could buy things just using an account number not connected to any card. And if anyone had her credit card information why would they need to use it through Apple?

I told her to respond and she'd see that they'd ask for her credit card number and Apple account number. Exactly what happened. So I asked her why they would need her Apple account number since they claimed that they'd contacted her because they'd identified that her account was being used?

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:07 pm
by eric
In my experience with bank accounts, credit cards, and cell phones, after a suspicious transaction, the provider of the service cuts off service first to prevent further access and then because of inevitable contact delays leaves it up to the customer to contact them after discovering their card has been declined etc.

Here's a typical example - my wife's credit card was skimmed a few month's back. The next day Walmart's fraud center in Atlanta flagged multiple suspicious transactions on the premise that a card that had been used less than eight hours before to purchase fuel in the upper Ottawa Valley would not typically be used to buy video games and pre-loaded debit cards in Atlanta. Results - immediate hold on the card and my wife never even knew about it for 3 days until she needed the card again.
.... shoot first and then sort out problems later to protect the card issuer's situation.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:17 pm
by notorial dissent
I think over the years I've gotten about every variation and variety of the 419 emails that is out there, none of them particularly unique or even interesting, and it hasn't been unusual to get identical emails in one batch with either slightly different names or return email addresses. I think at various points and times I have heard from any number of banks and such that I have never heard of let alone done business with, and lots from ones I am familiar with but have never done business with either. For some reason Sun Trust, Navy Federal Credit and USAA seem to be very popular with the scammers. I think I have actually received at most an handful that could maybe have come from my bank and they are never formatted right to be. My current ISP's spam filter seems to be about 99.99% effective in catching all of them now. That being said, I probably get about 100 or so a month I would guess.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:51 pm
by Burnaby49
eric wrote:In my experience with bank accounts, credit cards, and cell phones, after a suspicious transaction, the provider of the service cuts off service first to prevent further access and then because of inevitable contact delays leaves it up to the customer to contact them after discovering their card has been declined etc.

Here's a typical example - my wife's credit card was skimmed a few month's back. The next day Walmart's fraud center in Atlanta flagged multiple suspicious transactions on the premise that a card that had been used less than eight hours before to purchase fuel in the upper Ottawa Valley would not typically be used to buy video games and pre-loaded debit cards in Atlanta. Results - immediate hold on the card and my wife never even knew about it for 3 days until she needed the card again.
.... shoot first and then sort out problems later to protect the card issuer's situation.


They also seem to use some kind of algorithm regarding uncharacteristic spending on the card. My brother's daughter had her card stolen once. It was cancelled by the issuer before she even realized it had been stolen. It had been used to buy beer, gasoline, and women's shoes locally. The card representative who later phoned her said that the purchases, along with the quick timing, were too unusual compared to the normal use.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:08 am
by The Observer
There is realtime monitoring by the banks and credit card companies. One early morning I used an ATM before going into the office and within 2 minutes of me pulling the card out of the ATM, my cell phone rang. It was my bank, wanting to confirm that I had just used my card. I was told my card had been used 10 minutes before at a location over 50 miles away and that they recognized it was impossible for me to have traveled that distance. The bank ended up reimbursing my account and putting other security criteria on the card so that the thieves would not be able to repeat their performance.

Re: Visa Electron card, Kenya

Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:55 am
by TheNewSaint
The Observer wrote:the "Visa employee" requested that she provide them with her credit card number after they provide her with the first 4 digits of her number.


That's actually pretty clever. Of course, we Quatloosians know that the first four digits of the card reflect only the card issuer. It's the last 4 digits that are unique to the customer. But if the mark doesn't know how card numbers work, and the scammer can guess the mark's bank, they can sound very legitimate. Also, by posing as a "Visa employee" instead of something more specific, this approach could hit any one of several Visa cards in someone's wallet.