Recently, Social Catfish users have reported an influx of 419 or Nigerian scams, also called catfish. By the time most people find us, often the damage has been done and the best that can be hoped for is to stop future lost assets, emotions, or time. However, as word gets out, everyday internet users are learning that online search algorithms and tools like SocialCatfish.com can seek out, identify, and STOP Nigerian scammers from wrecking havoc on their lives. Whether it is to help yourself, a friend or loved one, or preventative so you know the facts on 419 scams and catfishing scams!
WHY ARE THEY CALLED “419” SCAMS OR “419” FRAUD
Ironically, there is an actual criminal code in Nigeria which states it is a violation of their law to assist in obtaining credit or money through false pretense or assisting in inducing the delivery of any stolen funds. Click here to read the full law.
That might make it seem as though the Nigerian government is helpful and sympathetic to overseas users who lose funds and are scammed. Unfortunately, this is NOT the case. Rather, the Nigerian government has drawn a firm line in the sand which wants to keep all funds (stolen or not) inside their country to help stimulate their weakened economy, other countries and individuals are damned.
The biggest factor which makes the ‘new age’ of 419 fraud difficult to identify, is the amount of energy and resources that have been put into perfecting the scam. Nigerian scammers are trained by friends and even raised in families where their entire home is devoted to scamming overseas users! Children see their parents becoming scammers, as a means to survive and learn the ropes. You can read an exclusive interview with an actual 419 Nigerian scammer here. Though nothing about stealing from innocent people is forgivable or excusable, the person we interviewed gave details on the poverty-stricken country where most people live in squabbles without lighting or running water. He admitted to growing ‘close’ to some of the people he scammed and “feeling bad” about his trickery… even whilst tricking them!
THE FBI’S INVOLVEMENT
It used to be easy to identify a phishing email, online user, or even someone on dating sites, such as Hinge or OkCupid. Email carriers like Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL began to add protections that would send most 419 scam emails to the ‘spam’ folder. That is when scammers got smart and began to enhance their English or language skills so that they could maximize profits and returns. When the FBI gets involved in issuing warnings about the bait and switch know as 419 Scams, then it is time to take notice. That is the current day reality, in which the United States government has devoted an entire .gov page to helping internet users stay safe and educated.
Types of 419 Scams
- Fraudulent emails and letters from Nigeria don’t typically tell you that’s their start location, though sometimes they will and give an excuse as to why. Often the letters will give a ‘fake’ name and promise they have lottery winnings and just needs your help to obtain them and you will share in the loot!
- Or, they might claim they have been on an overseas vacation and are in need of temporary/dire financial help.
- There are variations that might try and convince you of an overseas business venture and that a loan or ‘care package’ is needed.
- Others are groomed with a fake online relationship with someone they believe to be sincere, loving, or grow to trust. These fake online relationships can start anywhere from social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter and even online games such as Fortnite or Scrabble GO! Once the Nigerian scammer realizes they’re hooked, they’ll test the waters and ask for money. If the person being tricked complies, the requests will increase.
ACTION TO TAKE IF YOU ARE SCAMMED
If you receive anything of this sort, whether by email or mail. Here are the actions to take.
First, the FBI suggests that you forward or send ALL such letters to your local FBI office, or the United States Postal Inspection Service, and/or report a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.
Another scam to beware of is unknowingly STOLEN information. Therefore, the FBI encourages the protection of one’s personal account information. Beware of the sites you visit, especially if it asks you to enter your credit card information, and never give out personal information over phone or email.
If someone you know is being scammed, or you think they might be, educate them with articles like these and encourage them to run a search. From there, if suspicions are confirmed or ongoing, they should immediately follow the steps above and contact the FBI or other resources to report the scam. Feel free to contact Social Catfish who can then walk you through the steps.
The entire concept that someone in another country might fraudulently rip off an unsuspecting person from hundreds or thousands of dollars might seem impossible… until it happens to you!
Awareness is key
If you believe you may be being scammed, trust your instincts or the suggestions of those who are worried for you. While an online Social Catfish search can unmask your scammer… if the letters or requests you receive fit the criteria above, also send the information immediately to the correct government body!