Nigerian Letter Scams
Continuing my series of articles on various Internet money making scams, I will today look at the now infamous ‘Nigerian Letter Scam’.
This, sometimes quite nasty, scam (I will explain later) has been around in various formats since the late 70’s. It is also probably on the files of just about every fraud officer from every country, worldwide.
Originally this scam was perpetrated with the ‘victim’ receiving an actual letter postmarked in Nigeria, and to all intents and purposes looking like an official document! In the letter, a bogus Nigerian official/civil servant informs the recipient of a large amount of money (millions of dollars) which has been ‘overpaid’ by the Nigerian Government whilst they were procuring some contract or other. This so called ‘loose’ money needs to be disposed of and to do this they need to recruit the services of a willing third party, either a private individual or company, to provide bank details so that the money can be deposited into their account.
The ultimate aim of this scammer is to convince the ‘mark’ that they have been singled out to become a partner in this (what would appear to be!) very profitable arrangement. The bogus official claims he cannot use his own bank account and so asks the ‘victim’ to accept a large amount of commission for allowing this arrangement to take place.
If they actually manage to ‘hook’ someone in the course of the ensuing correspondence, then the gullible ‘mark’ is reassured various types of documentation bearing official looking letter heading, and subsequently guided into providing all sorts of personal information including, of course, bank details. Then when everything looks set to go, a slight problem (on the Nigerian side) occurs! This is either a hiccup at the bank, a money transfer problem or even some official that needs bribing. The, now well and truly hooked ‘mark’, is asked to send a small amount of money (in relation to the principal sum), this is to allow the transaction to proceed. Needless to say, if transferred, this money is never seen again! Oh, and by the way, the millions of dollars never materialises into the victim’s bank account.
Now it has been known for meetings to be set up prior to the actual ‘stings’ and the victim or members of their families have actually been kidnapped and held for ransom. The bank details have also been used to drain any bank accounts.
These letters have now moved on somewhat and are usually received as emails, sometimes using the bogus official route, other times they are from individuals (usually grieving widows) trying to move inherited money out of the country to a ‘safer place’.
At the end of the day, no matter which route they take, the basic idea is the same, they promise to put a vast fortune into your bank account, but before the transaction can go through, you have to send them some money to cover some minor administration cost.
Has this actually taken in people, sure it has?
Are people still (after 30 years of it) being ‘taken in’? Unbelievably as it may seem they are. Why, do I think, this still happens. The reason is simple; greed overtakes logic!
Posted by Andrew Murrayfield
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