Reformed Nigerian scammer describes how he swindled $70,000 from Bay Area victims

Stephanie Sierra Image
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Reformed scammer describes how he swindled $70K from Bay Area victims
An international scammer is admitting how he stole from innocent people and is now using the skills to help a company track his predecessors.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An international scammer is admitting how he stole from innocent people and is now using the skills to help a company track his predecessors.

This comes as tax-related scams are on the rise in California and across the Bay Area.

According to FBI internet crime data, a record $394 million was lost to government impersonation in 2023. That's up from $241 million the year before.

A report released by reverse search company Social Catfish found California the most at-risk state with $88.3 million lost last year - the most across the U.S. According to the report, Kansas followed behind with $44 million lost.

ABC7 spoke with a reformed scammer based in Nigeria who admitted to defrauding people for five years. Chris says he swindled more than $70,000 from his victims through romance and tax-related scams.

"I used to take down this guy's picture, a military guy," Chris said. "I made a fake profile on social media and some apps and I tried to meet single women, make them fall in love with me and I scam them."

In 2021, Chris says he scammed a woman for more than $30,000.

"She became depressed... she really wanted to know who I was," Chris said.

The reformed scammers told ABC7 his victim's family stopped communicating with her.

"I felt really bad," he said. "So I got out."

MORE: Bay Area mom finds out scammer already claimed her tax refund. Here's what saved her

A North Bay woman tried to e-file her tax return, but got an error message saying someone had already done it.

Chris is now working for Social Catfish providing insight on how scamming operations work across the world.

According to Social Catfish, the five most common scams to look out for are:

Turbo Tax scam -- where fraudsters will send emails pretending to be from Turbo Tax - usually asking victims to update their account information or claim there is an issue with their tax return.

Experts advise to avoid third-party websites offering discounted services and go directly to to use their services.

Fake Accountant - scammers will impersonate a CPA and usually promise unusually high tax refunds at low prices. These payments are due upfront and the so-called accountants disappear after getting the funds.

Experts advise to perform a reverse search to confirm the identity of the CPA.

IRS spoofing call -- victims receive a 'spoofing' call which makes the number appear it's coming from the Internal Revenue Service. Scammers will claim the victim owes money for unpaid taxes and threatens to fine or arrest them until it's paid.

Only go to to make direct payments.

Unclaimed refund - Emails with a fake IRS logo tell victims they are owed more money and can immediately claim their tax refund by clicking a link and filling out information. The link is usually a phishing link designed to steal personal information.

The IRS will never initiate by email, text, or social media.

Employee Retention Credit - the ERC tax credit for businesses that retained employees during COVID. Fake ads on social media claim they can help businesses get their credit immediately.

Do not respond to an unsolicited third party.

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