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Dutch police target 23 Nigerian gangs

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Dutch police say they are targeting another 23 Nigerian gangs after the arrest of 12 suspects as part of a joint US/Dutch investigation into 419 money-making schemes.

Four chief suspects will be sent to the US for prosecution, where they could face up to twenty years of jail time if convicted. Eight others will be prosecuted in the Netherlands.

“This is only the beginning,” a spokesman for the Dutch police told Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf.

Police won't say if more arrests will follow soon, although Frank Engelsman, frauds specialist at US company Ultrascan, lamented in de Telegraaf that "with every African scammer you arrest, another one will take his place."

Apparently, the arrests didn’t go unnoticed with the 419 community. The number of fraudulent mails with Dutch mobile phone numbers has dropped noticeably since last week. However, fraudulent activities are expected to resume soon. When Dutch police arrested 52 419ers in Amsterdam in the beginning of 2004, Nigerians left the Amsterdam suburb of Bijlmer "in droves", only to return later.

One victim of the recent scams is a well known New York orthopedic surgeon, who received a letter that he inherited money from a relative he had never heard of. The man flew to the Netherlands and was met by two African businessmen in suits at the Apollo Meridien. After having forked over $60,000 in advance fees, he was handed a suitcase with play money. When the angry surgeon demanded an explanation, he was told "not to open the suitcase because the money would immediately be destroyed".

Dutch police say they are surprised that people still fall for these proposals, despite many warnings.®

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