What is black dollar money? In short, it is a scam, also known as “Black Dollar Scam” or “Chemical Wash Scam”. In the scheme a victim is convinced they inherited cash by various means.
Why is the money coated black? The scammers will make you believe that the money had to be painted black to avoid attention from the authorities. Now you have to pay the chemical cleaning fee in order to gain access to the clean cash.
Is Black Dollar Real Money? No.
The Black Money Scam is an “advance fee scam” in which unsuspecting victims get scammed for the processing fees of the cash which supposedly belongs to them. This scam is typically done in the African continent, however it is still being executed worldwide. This guide will teach you how to recognize the Black Money Scam, how scammers reach out to victims and which chemicals they use.
How Black Money Scammers Operate
Black money fraudsters target their victims in two ways: Real-life contact or they use online spamming methods to lure in victims. If the victim is approached in real life, the scammers accumulate information on their personal life and they seek out high net-worth individuals that can easily afford the “chemical washing fees” for cleaning the fake dollar notes.
Certain victims have been scammed to the tune of millions of dollars. In the event the scammer reaches out to a victim via e-mail, they typically send out millions of identical messages that state the victim is the inheritor of cash which had to be hidden and snuck in/out of a certain country undetected. Then the victim is convinced they have to pay the chemical fees in order to wash the paint off the cash.
Black Money Scam Email Example
Dear [Victim name],
I work for a bank/law firm in [X country] and we found certain assets which were deposited in a bank many years ago here at our institution, but we were just informed the owner passed away. Despite making an extensive effort to find their immediate living heirs, we couldn’t identify any of them.
We were successful in discovering their Will and a man with your name was the first beneficiary listed as for those assets. We kindly ask you to write whether you are the person listed and if you are familiar with other relatives who bear the name that could be the beneficiaries.
If you believe you are the beneficiary, please let us know and consult us with other relevant information that would confirm you are the beneficiary. The assets value is estimated at [X-dollar] amount.
Black Money Scam Email Example Follow-Up
Dear [Victim name],
I personally discovered the contents of the deposit and it’s to the tune of [X dollar amount] but the cash is marked with dye. To my knowledge, your relative had to cover up the cash in order to sneak past border security and bring it into our country.
Fortunately, this is not the first time this happened and I’ve dealt with situations like these before. I can offer you a service to get the money cleaned up, and it will only take 2-3 hours for the money to be clean, re-packed and shipped to you. I have done this in the past and I can offer you my full discretion and guarantee the funds will be available on time.
If you wish you can come and have a first look at the cash yourself and we prepare a consignment load before I hand the cash to you. Please bear in mind the chemicals required to clean the cash are very expensive and this is to avoid destroying the paper they’re printed on.
I have connections at a laboratory that produces a cleaning chemical which can remove the dye from the cash, but I will need an advance payment from you. You can come here and test the cash and after you deposit $35,000, I will have my guys clean the cash and prepare it for you.
If you pay my compensation I will reach out to my people and have them prepare the chemicals. Due to previous experience, I have personal knowledge this amount of cash can be processed in under 3 hours.
I look forward to your reply,
Scammers Meet Victims In Real Life
If the fraudster receives a reply and the communication proceeds, they meet the victim in real life. The real-life proof of cash is what prompts the victim to shell out real cash in exchange for a “sample” of the cash. In certain cases the scammers expand their story to make it more believable by mentioning death duties and unpaid taxes.
There are no actual death duties and taxes to be paid but this is used as a persuasion tactic to make the victim believe the chemical fees are not the only thing they have to pay for. The scammers are usually dressed in top fashion and present themselves as lawyers or bankers who would have access to the deceased relative’s funds.
Certain scams rely on the tax and government fees collection rather than making the victim pay for the chemical. The scammer might be willing to ship the dyed cash to the victim’s country, however, only after the victim has paid a multitude of fees including country taxes, security processing fees, money transfers, lawyer fees, export licenses, etc. This is in effect to legalize the cash transfer and make the victim feel that it’s actually legal to bring the cash in their country.
Scammers make up dozens of excuses to convince the victims that their dead relatives traded in huge amounts of cash, and had reasons to conceal that cash.
They might say the victim used to trade in resources such as gold or diamonds in Africa and had to pay in cash. They might also say they traded antiques or artifacts that could only be paid for in cash, prior to passing away. They will also follow-up the story by saying trading in large amounts of cash meant dealing with corrupt customs who would steal the cash, hence the decreased relative had to paint the cash in order to avoid detection.
Scammers Give Live Chemical Demos
The final step of the scam is to meet the victim in real life. If the victim is convinced they’re going to inherit cash, they typically request to see the cash in real life and expect the contents of the suitcase. The scammer meets the victim in real life and hands them a sample of the contents.
The sample is usually a stained dollar bill which is marked in black or blue color. The color appears to be unwashable, unless of course the victim pays for hefty chemical washing fees.
In some cases the scammers will do a live demonstration of the chemical in action and ask the victim to select a note from the stack and then wash the bank-note in real time. Certain scammers are trained to perform the sleight of hand trick by confusing the victim and pulling a clean dollar note from their sleeve. The scammers then say they don’t have any more liquid left to wash the remainder of the money, and request the victim to pay for more bottles of the cleaning chemical.
The chemical expenses can be as low as a few thousand dollars in some scams and exceed $1,000,000 in other larger scams. Million-dollar black money scams were detected in countries like Hong Kong. Once the victim has gotten their demonstration, they are fully convinced the cash is real and that they need to pay the chemical washing fee.
The chemical washing fee is the biggest expense the victim has to bear, however, the fraudster tells them they’ll have to pay extra taxes on the cash. They notify the victim that it’s impossible to pay the tax unless the cash is clean, and that this liquid can’t be found anywhere else except their laboratory connections.
Once the fraudsters successfully parts the cash from the victim, they typically disappear never to be seen again. In some cases the fraudsters go as far as inventing their own chemical companies and websites which they show to the victim and convince them they’re the only ones who can remove the stains.
Scammers Refuse To Hand The Money
In no case have fraudsters ever handed the money directly to the victim, not even while doing live demonstrations of the chemical. Even if the victim is convinced they can remove the stains themselves, the scammers refuse to hand them the suitcase full of cash and they ask them to pay the chemical fee. Typically their excuses include security reasons or their past experience dealing with dyed money.
Sometimes the scammers say they’re afraid of the police getting involved because if someone is found with painted money they could be in legal trouble. Scammers have a slew of excuses which they explain to victims in order to refuse outright handing them the money.
Successful scammers walk free from this scam in many situations, because the scams never go reported. The reason why is because the victim automatically incriminates themselves if they paid for illegal washing of stained money.
Moreover, the information never leaks out because victims feel moral guilt and shame from being scammed and don’t want to put this information out there in the public. This is why the black money scam is one of the lesser-known scams, despite being common in countries all over the world. The scammers are also more attention-driven and careful than other scammers, executing their scams meticulously.
Chemicals Used For Black Money Scams
The chemicals scammers use to clean bills are typically not sophisticated chemicals. They’re mass-spread mixes of regular tablets, iodide and pharmaceutical chemicals that are widely available. They may include the following:
- Magnesium Hydroxide
- Calcium Hydroxide
- Vitamin C tablets
- Iodide and glue
- Soda mixes
The chemical used will vary by the scam, but typically they are widely available.
Black Money Cases
CASE EXAMPLE #1
Location: Hong Kong
Scam Status: Successful
One of the most successful black money scams in recent history was a scam when a wealthy 50-year old Hong Kong woman was taken for $1.5M USD. The scammers lead her to believe that a truck full of bank-note sized paper belonged to her and could be turned legal if they applied a chemical, which she had to pay for.
The woman was convinced that she needs to pay in excess of $1 million dollars to obtain the chemicals necessary to clean the black banknotes. There were two scammers who worked as a team and reached out to her over social media.
The whole scam took 6 months. The fraudsters convinced the woman that the money belongs to her in 6 months and meet her in real life for a demonstration. The fraudsters were never arrested and the woman was allowed to walk free.
Once the fraudsters convinced the woman they had money belonging to her, 3 months into the scam they scheduled their first meeting. This meeting was held off the islands of Hong Kong in the Chinese mainland, where the man brought a friend who demonstrated black notes and how they converted them into clean notes using a chemical. The victim there fell for the scam and she transferred $1.3M and then $0.2M into 6 different bank accounts in order to acquire the chemicals.
The victim suspected she fell for a scam and called the police. She wasn’t arrested and the investigations went on. The money was never recovered. This was not even the first large-scale black dollar notes scam that was reported in Hong Kong.
In 2016 another wealthy woman was scammed out of $1M dollars in Hong Kong by a person from Libya who met her over Skype and successfully convinced her to transfer money for special liquids that would be used to remove the blackened dollar notes. The first instances of this scam dated back the 90s in the country of Hong Kong and it’s estimated that many more went unreported due to fears of getting arrested.
CASE EXAMPLE #2
Scam Status: Failed
In Duplin County in North Carolina, one of the first instances of a black money scammer getting caught outside of the actual scam was recorded. The scammer was accidentally pulled over for a traffic violation and once the police investigated the insides of the car, they discovered over $20,000 in real cash and chemicals used to blacken the cash in order to prepare for the black money scam.
The police had risen suspicious about the person as he first identifies himself as his brother. Once their suspicions increased, they deployed a K-9 team and carried out a full-out investigation of the vehicle. They found a large amount of cash concealed under the seat and immediately arrested the person.
The scammer had a previous record in Minnesota, and the police charged him with giving false information to an officer, identity theft and planning to execute scams. There is no information in regards to whether the scammer executed black money scams, but the large cash evidence linked with the chemicals lead the police to believe so.
In certain instances, scammers will carry real cash and coat it in black ink but they also know how to wash it out and demonstrate it to victims. In other cases the money is black paper. This case shows the scam is widespread.
CASE EXAMPLE #3
Scam Status: Failed
A South Korean entrepreneur was targeted by a Nigerian scammer impersonating as a UN officer who claimed had access to over $100M in cash which could be washed if they met them to buy the cleaning chemicals. The South Korean boss agreed to attend the meeting directly but he brought 2 of his trusted delegates to meet the man in Malaysia.
The Nigerian scammer presented himself as a “UN Director of Operations” who accidentally stumbled upon piles of cash belonging to the South Korean national, and claimed he could wash the black notes if the businessmen pay for a cleaning chemical.
The scammer was a 46-year old Nigerian national who resided in Malaysia and had a history of luring victims into the Black Money chemical scam. He and the victim engaged in two separate hotel meetings over a period of 5 days.
The perpetrator demanded an advance payment of $12,000 in order to demonstrate the cleaning chemical to them. The delegates paid the fee and the scammer met at a hotel. The Nigerian national brought a large suitcase filled with black notes who he claimed were actual dollar notes. He said this was a small demonstration of the money and that he could easily wash over $100M worth of cash using the liquid he presented.
The Korean boss was not convinced by his demonstration and immediately called the cops on him. The police arrived at the hotel and arrested the Nigerian national on the spot, who then revealed his location leading back to an apartment in a remote area of the country. The Koreans later held a press conference informing the public of the scam.
The police discovered the Nigerian national was a full-time resident of Malaysia and he had a local wife with whom he had 2 children. The scammer had first entered the country as a student but got married and remained in the country for over 11 years, after which he obtained a permanent residence.
Following a police investigation, it was concluded the man had been carrying out black money scams for over 4 years in the country and he always lured in victims over e-mail and social media. It was confirmed the man was operating alone and he wasn’t part of a larger crime syndicate. The police successfully recovered the initial $12,000 the Koreans put up for the cleaning chemical. They also seized a number of suitcases filled with black notes, mobile phones and faked UN credentials.
Fake Chemical Wash Website Example
We tracked down and made a screenshot of a website selling the supposed magical chemical soup that could wash the money. This is how it looks like:
Click on the image above to see the full-size version and examine the screenshot of this website closely. You can see how they are trying quite hard to convince the victims with fake testimonials, images and all other information.