Get the 411 on the 419: Nigerian Scams Aren't Going Away
Posted by Pamela S. on Friday, November 16th, 2012
By now there probably isn’t a person in North America, or other parts of the world who hasn’t heard of the Nigerian 419 scam, Nigerian scams or Advance Fee Fraud. We’ve all
eived those emails or letters. This Spanish Prisoner type scam has been around for hundreds of years and isn’t going to go away.
The original Spanish Prisoner scam took advantage of a person’s trust, and greed. A con artist tells the mark that a wealthy person has been imprisoned under a false identity in Spain. He is trying to raise money to have the man released from prison. Anyone who puts up funds will be substantially rewarded when the wealthy person gets out of prison. In some stories, the
mark would be offered the hand of the prisoner’s daughter, a beautiful woman. The con keeps the scam going by asked for more money, claiming difficulties, until they can’t get anymore money out of the victim.
Who would fall for this? The same people who sent money to Mr. Charles Taylor, or Dr. Seiyefa Obokoro, or Pastor Kothapalli Prabhakara Rao, or Mrs. Patricia Besupa Zatai. The same people who have the same last name as a relative of the scammer, even though your name is Smith. The people who fall for this somehow believe that Beatrice or Patricia can’t collect the 15 million dollars owed to her when her husband was tragically murdered, because of the political situation in her country, and the orphanage that she runs, out of the goodness of her heart, will suffer. You, being “a good Christian who wants to do God’s work” are the chosen one.
These scams originate from many countries, not just Nigeria, but the developing country has become infamous for this type of crime. If you are a fraudster, you’re going to go where the money is. Despite all the claims of dead relatives leaving millions of dollars behind, waiting for your help to assist the beneficiary, Nigeria is a poor country. Scammers are going to focus on countries where people have time on their hands to read these letters, disposable income, big hearts, and the naivete that comes from living in a country like ours.
Sure, the letters or emails are fun to read, but we are all bored with that now. Most of these emails go into our spam and we don’t even notice them. Most people know not to send money to these people. Most people, but not all. That is why the scammers keep at it.
Some people decide to fight back and become email Nigerian scam vigilantes. There are a number of sites where people post funny letters that they have sent in response to a 419 scam. They do things like ask the scammer to send a photo holding a sign with something stupid or obscene printed on it. Or they ask the scammer to place a fish on their head. They tell the con that this is how they will know that they are speaking with the right person. They are scamming the scammers, mostly for fun.
It can be funny, but really fraud is not fun. Pulling one over on a criminal may seem like a great way to kill time, but you wouldn’t do that if the person was living in your town or city.
So many people have clued in, that the scammers have moved on to new ways to get your money. Now they are sending text messages. Forget the dead relatives and their millions, now they are targeting lonely women by offering love. They also post or respond to ads for jobs or other services on Craigslist, and other sites. One type of crime often leads to another. If you interact with these con artists, you may find yourself getting hacked, or become a victim of identity theft.
Scammers from all over the world target the vulnerable and the lonely, especially senior citizens and younger people. Educate your family about fraud. Keep tabs on what your teenagers are doing online, talk to your elderly relatives and ask them to talk to you, before they respond to any online ads.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.