Nigerian scams involve someone from overseas who is offering you a share in a large amount of money or a payment on the stipulation that you help them to transfer money out of their country. It is true that these scams originated in Nigeria, but they now come from all over the world.
How This Scam Works
The scammer will contact you without warning or invitation by email, letter, text message, or through social media. The scammer will tell you an intricate story about large sums of their money that is trapped in banks. This will occur during events such as civil wars or coups, and often in countries that are currently in the news. Or it is possible that they may tell you about a large inheritance that is hard to access due to government restrictions or taxes in their country. The scammer then offers you a very large sum of money to help them transfer their personal wealth out of the country.
These scams are usually known as “Nigerian 419” scams. This is because the first outbreak of them came from Nigeria. The ‘419’ part of the name is derived from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which forbids the practice. These scams now can come from anywhere in the world.
Scammers may ask for your personal bank account details. They do this to assist them in transferring the funds. Then they will use this information to later steal your hard-earned money.
Or it is possible that they may ask you to pay fees, charges, or taxes that will help to release or transfer the money out of the country through your bank. These fees might even start out as very small amounts. If the fee is paid, the scammer may make up new or additional amounts that require payment before you can receive your reward. They will keep requesting additional money as long as you are willing keep sending it. You will never receive the money that was promised.
The Warning Signs
- You are contacted out of the blue by someone asking you to help or aid a person from another country to transfer money out of their country (for example Nigeria, Iraq, or Sierra Leone).
- The request will include a long and very often sad story about why the money can’t be transferred by the actual owner. This will typically involve some sort of third world conflict or inheritance. And they want to move the money straight into your account.
- They will offer you a financial reward, such as a percentage in the total amount, for assisting them in accessing their “trapped” funds. The amount of money that will be transferred and the payment that the scammer promises to you is usually very large, if you will be so good as to help them.
- They will assert that a bank, lawyer, government agency or other organization requires that some fees need to be paid before the funds can be moved. The scammer will often ask you to make a payment for the fee by way of a electronic funds transfer service.
How To Protect Yourself
- Never send money or give out your credit card details, online account details, or copies of personal documents to anyone that you don’t know or trust.
Avoid any agreement with someone you don’t know that is asking for an up-front payment. This could be by way of money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded debit card or any electronic currency. It is rare and nearly impossible to recover money that is sent this way.
- Don’t ever agree to transfer money for someone else. It is considered money laundering and it is a criminal offense.
- If you are ever in doubt, seek independent advice from someone you personally know and trust.
- If someone is claiming to be from a particular organization, you can verify the identity of the contact by contacting the applicable organization directly. You can find them through an independent source such an online search through Google. Do not use the contact details that the scammer has provided in their message they sent to you.
- Do an internet search using the names, addresses, contact details, or exact wording of the email or letter. You can also look for any references to complaints or as scam in your search. Many scams can be identified this way.
- If you think it’s a scam, it is best that you don’t respond. Scammers will use a personal touch or tug at your heartstrings to play on your emotions to get what they want.
- As we say in all of our Scam Alerts, it is very important to remember that there are no get-rich-quick schemes: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If You Are A Victim Of The Nigerian Scam
- If you know that you have provided your account details, passport information, social security number, drivers license, or
any other personal identification details to a scammer, you need to immediately contact your bank, financial institution, or other relevant agencies.
- Do not send any more money. Unfortunately, any money that you might already have sent is probably long gone and not recoverable.
- Rather than attempt a resolution directly, immediately end all communication with the scammer immediately. If you feel at all threatened, contact your local police at once. Do not personally attempt to recover the funds you have lost.
- Immediately report the situation to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. This is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BIA), at www.ic3.gov.
- If the scam was originated through a specific website, you should directly notify the administrators of that website.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post on the Nigerian Scam. I hope it provided needed information to the reader and was in some way helpful. Please feel free to leave any Comments or Questions you may have below. Also, if you know or any scams you would like for me to investigate, please leave the information in the Comments section.