Nigerian scams turn your own greed and desire for wealth against you and into a way of emptying your bank account
Chances are you’ve already encountered the 419 scam (titled after the law that pertains to it). Also known as the “Nigerian Email Scam” it’s usually sent via email but can also arrive in letter form. The beginning always starts with something like, “Dear Sir, I got your data from a confidential source…” and goes on to relay a tale regarding a very large sum of money tucked away overseas that the sender of the letter wants to put in your accounts. Repayment for this service is a promise of riches from them to you.
Bounced checks and counterfeit money orders
The reality is, of course, that the check received from this person is bogus. They tempt you even further by suggesting that you keep some of the money and just send back the difference. Once that money is sent back, you’ll see the error in your ways because the check will have bounced. And now the total amount of the wire or check you sent to them will be due in full to the bank. There’s no way to contact these folks because the information they gave you was phony. So the bank will come after you.
Occasionally, the bank will tell you that the check from the Nigerian’s has cleared. However, this isn’t always the case as check’s can be forged well enough even to fool the most experienced of bankers. And even though the bank cleared a bogus check, they will still hold you responsible. In some cases counterfeit money orders take the place of cashier’s checks. The payment type isn’t that important because either way the victim will still be held responsible.
An email is sent by an individual who claims to be former high-ranking government official or a long lost heir of a ruler from a developing nation such as Nigeria. They explain that due to any number of problematic reasons he is unable to remove millions of dollars from his country. He will claim it is in a special account but to get it he needs several thousand dollars to get it out and asks that you help. He will next offer you a portion of these millions of dollars if you do indeed help this poor individual who is just trying to retrieve what is rightfully theirs. He will tell you to deposit the money in an account and when the money is transferred from the main account he will give you access to your millions. This form of fraud is sometime referred to as an advanced fee scheme.
Nigerian scams work all too well
Despite constant reports of Nigerian scam swindles in the media, people continue to be fooled. It should be noted that con artists have been perfecting Nigerian scams for decades. It may be hard to believe but this type of scam has been around since the 1920s when it was called the Spanish Prisoner Con. Back then the letter requesting funds were mailed the old fashioned way rather than arriving via email. The schemes were somewhat different in that they involved breaking the heir of a wealthy family out of a Spanish prison. Large sums of money were promised to anyone willing to help finance an operation designed to smuggle the heir out of the jail. The plan was in place but money was needed to bribe the guards, provide a means of transportation or whatever else the scammers might dream up. Each attempt would end in failure but the next one was certain to succeed! The specific details of the fraud may differ but it’s essentially the same thing as a Nigerian 419 scam. Every year there is a new angle to play and it’s a sure bet that someone will take the bait.
Falling for a Nigerian scam will leave the worst kind of taste in the victim’s mouth. Not only will you have been ripped off but you will have willingly allowed it to happen and been an active participant. At Fraud Guides we like to say that get-rich-quick schemes don’t work but this one actually does for the Nigerian scam perpetrators! The victim is left with nothing but a hard lesson.