“I have been conned of USD 300,000!!!”
The message stood out as I opened my WhatsApp. I could hardly believe my eyes and this led me to ask the sender whether he meant USD 300 instead. He sent me a voice message confirming that it was USD 300,000. I immediately got depressed.
He then opened up to me that he had been a victim of a scam involving Black Dollars.
What are Black Dollars?
This is banknote sized paper alleged to be US Dollar currency notes that have been dyed to avoid detection by the authorities.
What is the scam?
The victim is persuaded to pay fees and purchase chemicals to remove the dye, with a promise of a share in the proceeds. The heart of the scam involves coating a few pieces of real money with iodine and Vaseline or Elmer’s glue, and removing the blackening with oxygen bleach or crushed Vitamin C tablets, while convincing you that large piles of worthless black paper are the same blackened banknotes. They’re not. They have run off with your real money and left you with nothing but black paper.
My friend’s experience
He receives a call from some unknown guy who proceeds to introduce himself as a worker with the United Nations in South Sudan. He gives him a hint of the deal he has and requests that they meet.
Being a deal broker, my friend, let’s call him Kagutunda picks interest and a meeting is held at an upscale hotel in the environs of Kampala. After a thorough brief where they indicate that they have black dollars in South Sudan worth USD 8 Million, he is kind of convinced and the conmen request for money to transport them to Uganda. He proceeds to give them that money.
A few days later, the boxes of black dollars arrived and it was time for him to actually put them to the test. To show legitimacy, the conmen even came with a white man as part of the team. They signed an agreement where he was meant to purchase a machine and the cleaning chemicals for the black dollars.
Kagutunda then paid USD 40,000 and later added another USD 20,000. The machine was able to produce USD 1,000 that was clean. He verified by taking the money to a Forex Bureau and was able to successfully exchange it.
Things get interesting, the machine thereafter failed. The fraudsters indicated that there was need to get another machine from the United Kingdom. He released another USD 40,000 for this purpose. He also had to pay for five bottles of the cleaning chemicals at USD 40,000 each bottle.
Upon arrival of all the processing material, it turned the currency from black to an unclear form. They then asked him to raise another USD 50,000 to rectify the problem. At this point, Kagutunda was broke. With no more money, he made some consultations and that is when he learnt that he had been conned!!!
What does the Internet say?
A quick google search led me to material on how this scam is perpetrated and let us see the similarities;
According to Finishing.com, the steps involved are:
- Find gullible people as victims;
- Discover their prejudices, then inflame their prejudices with stories of the UN or the CIA or Iraq officials or some other group coating trunkfuls of money with secret blackening;
- Fill trunks with cut up black construction paper or the black output of a Xerox machine, or something else black.
- Produce by sleight of hand a few pieces of real money, which has been coated with iodine and Elmer’s glue, pretending they are representative of the contents of the trunk;
- Clean these few pieces of real money with the crushed Vitamin C tablets.
- Tell the victims that the vitamin C tablets are a precious secret chemical designed to remove the secret defacing chemical;
- Interrupt the cleaning by running out of solution or ‘accidentally’ knocking the bottle to the floor;
- Ask for vast sums for this “secret cleaning fluid”, when in fact the trunk is full of construction paper not iodine-stained money, and no chemicals can possibly turn construction paper into bank notes.
Wikipedia also details how this scam is carried out and a read through shows that the tactics are largely similar.
Interestingly, this scam has been around for years. I first heard of it while still a university student in the 1990s and it’s the reason I can hardly believe my ears that it is still effective today. This led me to do a quick survey among the under 35 years old individuals and to my shock, they have no idea about this Black Dollar scam.
Despite having been conned, Kagutunda came out in the open about his demise because he wants to prevent others falling victim.
Do you love quick money?
Do you love fast deals?
Do you have greed for money?
Have you been conned through scams like D9, TelexFree among others?
If you answered Yes to any of those three questions, you are a highly potential victim of this scam. Watch your steps closely. Value your money by not putting it to waste.
James Wire is a Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda
Follow @wirejames on Twitter.
Email lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com
Additional material from:
Featured image courtesy of Forwardtimes.com