The FBI and Spanish police have arrested 310 people in Malaga, Spain in connection with a €100m bogus (email) lottery scam run by Nigerian gangs. It is the biggest 419 bust in history, and may result in drastic reductions of scam mails.
The operation, codenamed Nile, centered on a mob which operated from Southern Spain. No less than four hundred officers from the Spanish police, the FBI and the US Postal Service were involved with the investigation, which began in 2003. Officers raided 166 homes in places such as Malaga, Benalmádena, Mijas, Torremolinos and Marbella. Police seized € 218,000 in cash, 2,000 mobile telephones, 327 computers and 165 fax machines.
Besides lottery emails, they also sent over 6 million 'classic' 419 scam mails, offering rewards for people who were willing to stash away money that had been taken out of Iraq by the family of the ex-dictator Saddam Hussein or money founds in the remains of the Twin Towers after the 9/11 attacks.
The scam claimed over 20,000 victims in 45 countries including Britain, France, Germany, the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and a number of Arabic countries, officials said.
As police will continue searching for more clues - officials are still trying to determine where the funds have been deposited - the number of scam emails may drop considerably. Similar raids on premises in Amsterdam early 2004 saw a rapid migration of Nigerians to other countries.