Bank saves woman from her own good intentions

Latvian Television's 'Studio 4' program has helped save a well-intentioned pensioner from an attempt to help someone apparently in an extreme situation on the other side of the world – after she complained to the show that her bank had blocked a substantial payment.

The senior citizen, who shall remain anonymous, lives in a rural district and has a good education, but admits she is lonely. She contacted 'Studio 4' asking it to investigate why her bank had stopped a wire payment of nearly 1,500 euros which she believed was helping an online acquaintance get out of a tricky situation.

The acquaintance in question was one 'Aleksandrs Daugavins' whom she had met on the Facebook social media platform. In their online correspondence, she found out that Daugavins was apparently a 65-year-old widower without children or family who has lived in the United Kingdom for 16 years, working as a shipping engineer.

"He had to complete the last job, go to Australia, buy a barrel of oil there and take it to Mexico," the woman said, her trusting disposition and desire to help blinding her to the unlikely nature of Daugavins' assignment.

Alexandrs the engineer wrote to her describing how after three days the ship started having engine problems. The team is said to have worked around the clock to repair it and reach the coast somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Fearing pirates, Mr. Daugavins allegedly emptied the safe of very important documents, put them in a package and, reasoned that the safest thing to do would be to mail it to a senior citizen in Latvia.

Evidence was sent to the lady that there was a problem with the payments the land-locked Mr. Daugavins was trying to make, forcing him to ask her for a contribution of 1,450 euros. 

"That's why he asked me to pay it so that the package could be delivered to Latvia," revealed the woman, who still did not smell a rat, so keen was she to help a sailor in distress on a wild and dangerous foreign shore.

The woman also received an electronic confirmation by e-mail, allegedly from a reputable courier company  that they were ready to send the package to Latvia, but urgently needed the required amount. The email even states that Daugavins is the husband of the lady, which she admitted was a white lie, because it would seem odd that someone might deliver such a valuable package to a total stranger. 

Aleksandrs Daugavins expressed himself very eloquently in his correspondence with the senior citizen: "Please, dear, try your best to pay the delivery company! Please, I am begging you in the name of God!"

Such entreaties might set the alarm bells ringing for many but again, the desire to provide aid, and perhaps the thrill of being wed – if only on for postal purposes – blinded the good Samaritan to the true nature of the transaction.

The 1,450 euros had to be transferred to the account of a private person named Ebhohimen Gloria Emuata. 

"I made the international transfer but when I opened the account, I immediately saw that the bank had blocked my account without warning me," the lady complained to Studio 4. The bank had indicated to the lady that it was a fraudulent transaction, therefore her account activity was restricted. 

Studio 4 started to investigate. The phone number through which correspondence had taken place via the "WhatsApp" application was still available but when Studio 4 called, it was disconnected.

Jānis Krops, head of media relations at AS "Swedbank", explained:

"This client is not the only one who falls for such frauds. Therefore, when we receive news about other cases of fraud, we conduct our own analysis. We try to understand what the hallmarks are, what are the keys that help the fraudster get to this money."

The viewer of Studio 4 was convinced that she was the only one to whom the person had entrusted 'important documents', but in reality there are dozens of victims, often women who fall for the sweet talk of a charming criminal who seems interested in them and may even hint at future romance. 

Sadly, such dreams are about as realistic as Daugavins' identity. No 'Aleksandrs Daugavins' can be found on the Internet, who has left a publicly-available record or worked in Latvia, so the program went to cyber security experts. However, it is worth noting that the name 'Daugavins' has been spread quite widely on the internet during the last year or so as it is the surname of a famous ice hockey player.

"" cyber security expert Rūdolfs Kelle, after examining the "Facebook" profile from which the correspondence with a senior citizen in Latvia began, explained that often the creators of such fake profiles choose photos of nice-looking people, which were found either on the same social media site or on the Internet .

"If we take the same picture and look it up on Google, we see that this picture of Aleksandrs Daugavins is on some San Pedro news website," revealed Kelle. 

It turns out that the person who calls himself Aleksandrs Daugavins has exactly the same face – and exactly the same photo – as an American police officer turned politician, Giuseppe 'Joe' Buscaino, who ran unsuccesfully  to become mayor of Los Angeles in 2022.

The company that allegedly undertook the delivery of the valuable package to the viewer of the program also turns out to have been created for fraudulent purposes. While it started off with the name of a well-known international courier company, it was very long and ended "". An international courier company is unlikely to rely on a free Gmail account to conduct its business. The "" cyber security expert reported the fake profile to the police.

Last year, the police reported 10 cases of "romantic fraud", though the real figure could be much higher with victims potentially feeling embarassed or upset that they had been taken in.

Gita Gžibovska, senior specialist of the Public Relations Department of the State Police (VP), said in a written response to Studio 4 that the investigation of cross-border crimes is time-consuming and complicated; especially in cases where money has been transferred to bank accounts belonging to third world countries. 

"But this does not mean that such crimes could not be detected. The VP, in cooperation with foreign law enforcement authorities, has previously detained organized groups of fraudsters abroad," confirmed Gžibovska.

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important