One of the most common types of online fraud is the infamous Nigerian scams. This is one of the oldest internet scams around, and unfortunately, it is more effective than ever. The basis of Nigerian scams is a variant of “advance fee” fraud, meaning that the victim pays money to the scammer in anticipation of receiving something of higher value, such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift.
Pay a little get a lot is the appeal of this scam. The outcome is that the victim receives little or nothing in return. These scams are also referred to as 419 scams after section 419 of the Nigeria Penal Code, which prohibits fraud. The FBI has reported billions of dollars in losses directly related to Nigerian scams!
Believe it or not, these Nigerian scammers mainly consist of young boys know as the ‘Yahoo Boys” many of their hustles are used to target users on Yahoo. They are sophisticated and technically, very savvy. They are similar to a crew from the mafia back in the day.
They’ve got their group, their music, and even their language. Their job is to convince you to buy into something that sounds and is too good to be true, and that is the fact of the matter. Buyer beware!
Warning Signs of a Nigerian Email Scam
You receive a contact from someone you have never seen before asking you to help someone from another country transfer money out of their country (i.e. Nigeria or Iraq).
The request often includes a long, sad story about why the owner can not transfer the money themselves. Typically, it involves some conflict or inheritance, and they want to move the money straight into your account. You are offered a financial reward for helping them access their “trapped funds”.
The amount of money to be transferred ad the payment to you for helping is always a substantial sum. They will claim that the bank or other government agency requires some fees to be paid first before the money can be transferred and ask you to pay the upfront fees via a money transfer service.
Sometimes these scammers bypass your email and reach out in other ways such as letters, text messages, and fake online dating profiles.
The scammers will create an entirely fake profile in the hope of making a love connection with someone ready willing and able to send money. These Nigerian scammers are not too adept at the whole love thing, and their profiles are pretty easy to spot if you know what you are looking for, such as fuzzy profile pictures, evasive and brief personal information, and very few friends.
In essence, however, they masquerade; the message is the same. Send some money or share your bank account for a large reward that will never materialize.
How to Protect Yourself
If you find yourself a victim of advance fee fraud, contact your bank and local law enforcement agency immediately. Whenever you receive suspicious emails or communications, file a complaint with the FTC as this does help to catch some of these Nigerian scammers.
Never share your personal information online and Never, never, never send money or banking information to someone you do not know.
Please contact Social Catfish whenever you see or feel something suspicious. If you sense it is a scam, you are probably correct. Social Catfish is fully equipped with the latest technology, experience, and expertise to assist you in identifying if you are dealing with a Nigerian scammer and possibly prevent you from becoming the next victim.