googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Nigerian Scams 101

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nigerian Scams 101

I happen to work in the banking industry. Having over 2 decades of experience in financial services, I’m no longer surprised at how gullible people are. Anymore, I’m annoyed that they “fall victim” to the Nigerian or other internet scams.

In the news today, I heard about an Oregon woman who is out $400,000 after falling for one of these scams. I guess I should feel sorry for her but it’s really hard to. Here’s why:

For those people unfamiliar with the Nigerian scam, let me give you a thumbnail explanation. A person in the US gets an unsolicited email, letter, or fax from a Nigerian “official.” The person claims to have some vast fortune (tens of millions of dollars) in some frozen asset in Nigeria and he’s trying to get the money into the US. He’s looking for some willing accomplice in the US to help him get the money out. The US accomplice fronts some money to pay some fees, bribes, and other miscellaneous expenses, and the “official” promises to cut the accomplice in for a huge percent. Above all else, the Nigerian official asks the whole thing must be kept hush-hush. You know what happens next, the US citizen fronts the money and the vast fortune never materializes.

An equally obnoxious scam is when a person receives notice they’ve won an “international lottery” but they have to pay some up front money in “taxes” before receiving the big haul.

But why people fall for such schemes? I don’t know. Actually I do know: THEY’RE GREEDY. These people think they’re going to get something for nothing – or a lot for a little. So, they stay “hush-hush” and help the crooked Nigerian official smuggle the money out. Some of them even think they’re going to pull one over on the official and pocket the entire sum. Hah! And these international lottery “victims” are the worst. Did it not occur to them they’ve never even bought an “international lottery” ticket? How can you win a lottery you never bought a ticket for? By the way, it’s illegal to play in international lotteries.

If all these people lost was their own money, it probably wouldn’t annoy me so much. The part that bothers me is that, in their greed-driven madness, they often suck true victims into their scheme. In the lottery scam, sometimes people will receive a “cashier’s check” which supposedly represents a small portion of the earnings. The victim is supposed to cash the check and immediately wire back a portion of the check for the taxes. What’s wrong with this? BINGO! The “cashier’s check” is a fake. The person’s account is suddenly thousands of dollars overdrawn. Often the banks can never collect this money back. What’s worse, a lot of times these “victims” have their friends or family members cash the check for them so it’s really their friends’ accounts that become overdrawn!

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). These folks are trying to help someone sneak money out of another country. These people are willing to take the winnings of a lottery they never entered. Some of these folks cash these counterfeit checks with every intent of pocketing the money and leaving someone else holding the bag. In many of these cases, the “victims” are just as guilty as the cons.

1 comment: said...

I share your puzzlement over how people can fall for some of these things. I am sure greed is part of it in most cases, but even most greedy people have enough sense to be skeptical of "offers" like these.

Some people tend to believe anything they read that sounds plausible, I suppose.

Probably the actually percentage of people who would fall for this is small, but because such a huge volume of such email is sent out, even if the percentage is very small, it generates enough victims for these scammers to cover their cost of promoting these schemes.