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Cablegate: Sorcery Calling Scam Targets

VZCZCXRO3413
PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHRH #1111 2401147
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281147Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1458
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0057

UNCLAS RIYADH 001111

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP (BERNDT) AND NEA/RA (SHAUNFIELD)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV ASEC KCRM SOCI SA SG
SUBJECT: SORCERY CALLING SCAM TARGETS

1. (SBU) A/GSO received a call at 17:45 on August 25 from
an unknown number with country code 221 (the country code for
Senegal). Upon returning the call, a man purporting to know her
said in Egyptian colloquial Arabic that he "wanted to help her."
"You are in danger -- your life is in danger," he said, explaining
that someone had used sorcery (saher) to put a curse on her and that
she needed to listen to what he had to say. "I know you are a Saudi
woman and believe me, you need my help -- I am only calling to help
you. Do you understand what I am saying?" he repeated.

2. (SBU) Saudi contacts in the transportation and tourism
industries later told A/GSO that these phone calls are a widespread
phenomenon in Saudi Arabia. Scammers call Saudi numbers at random
and leave missed calls. When someone calls back, the scammer speaks
with urgency about a sorcerer who has put a life-threatening curse
on the caller. The scammer then offers to counter the curse and
solicits the caller's credit card information to pay for their
sorcery services.

3. (SBU) Financial risk for the scammer reportedly is low,
as they do not pay for the calls themselves. Scammers select for
gullibility and financial solvency by only engaging callers who take
the time and resources to return the international call.

COMMENT
-------

4. (SBU) More common scams like the Nigerian 419 fraud
letter also target Saudis via fax and email. While the motivator in
advance-fee fraud is financial, this phone scam cleverly targets
widespread Saudi belief in, and fear of, sorcery.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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