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Article Summary: Identifying and Avoiding the Nigerian (African) Internet Scam...

We have all heard the horror stories of scammers ripping off unsuspecting internet surfers but do you know how to identify a scam? Jay gives us the basics about the African 419 scam in "Scamming 101".

Identifying and Avoiding the Nigerian (African) Internet Scam...

Despite the warnings from the FBI and Secret Service, Internet the Africa based fee fraud scams continue to draw in scores of victims. According to the FBI, the Financial Crimes Division of the Secret Service receives approximately 100 telephone calls and 300-500 pieces of related correspondence each day about this particular scam. Notwithstanding the obvious signs of a hoax, figures indicate that the advance fee fraud scams plaguing cyberspace gross hundreds of million dollars annually. And the losses continue to pile up.

What is an Internet advance fee fraud scam? The African or Nigerian Advance Fee Scheme (also known as "4-1-9" fraud after the section of the Nigerian penal code which deals with fraud schemes) mixes the threat of impersonation and fraud with a variation on an advance fee scheme in which an email mailed from Nigeria offers the victim an opportunity to participate in a very lucrative and exclusive arrangement. In the email, a Nigerian masquerading as a senior civil servant (or a family memeber of a deceased civil servant) will inform the recipient that he/she is seeking a reputable foreign person or company into whose account he can deposit tens of millions of dollars that the Nigerian government overpaid on a contract. In reality, the money does not exist. Authenticity is provided through the receipt of forged documents with official-looking Nigerian government seals, letterheads or bank statements. Once the victim is assured of the arrangement's success, something goes wrong, and they are usually pressured and threatened into providing sums of money to "bribe" a Nigerian politician or pay a fee to save the deal.

Here are some signs to look for in order to identify and avoid the Nigerian Internet scam.

  • Many emails are addressed to "President" or "CEO," rather than a specific name.
  • Look for the words "URGENT" or "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject heading or throughout the email.
  • They may contain obvious spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in order to make the victim feel assured it is personalized correspondence.
  • The emails discuss the sender's deceased or late husband/brother's money.
  • The emails are often written in all capital letters.
  • Email states that the victim was recommended for honesty and business aptitude.

DO NOT fall for these Nigerian Internet scams. Some victims have been lured to Nigeria where they have lost even more money and in some cases, been imprisoned. If you have received an email similar to the ones outlined above, or you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, the FBI and US Secret Service urges you to contact them as soon as possible. Don't fall for the allure of easy money. Stay away!

Meta Information:

Article #: 1165
Written by: Jay Rosenkrantz
Rating: G = General - All Audiences
Published on: May 24, 2012
About the author:
Written by Jay Rosenkrantz,

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of, it's staff or management. This free advice is for entertainment purposes only.

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