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Nigerian Scams: Are You Too Smart to Be a Victim?

Posted On   date24/02/2014

Nigerian Scams: Are You Too Smart to Be a Victim?

Nigerian fraud crimes have been around for decades, and while it seems you may be aware of how to avoid them, the scam artists are good.  Quite good, in fact.  Nigerian scams just won’t die – the criminals continue to operate with success and have expanded globally.  This is why it’s important to keep an eye out for scams and make sure you are well informed so you can avoid becoming a victim yourself.

Nigerian Expansion

Uncontrolled illegal immigration in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom has allowed many undocumented or illegal immigrants to set up residence in these countries and operate off the grid, so to speak.  They are not in the system, they do not pay taxes, and they are not being monitored as closely as citizens.  Many of these immigrants have close ties to their homeland. Desperate to find a way to make a living, they do what they know best.  For many Nigerians, this has meant conducting scams and fraud.

Nigerian scams and scammers used to be easy to detect because they used spam letters, or 419 letters, and always said they were from Nigeria.  These days, you can be a victim of a Nigerian scam from someone you’ve met on Facebook, Match.com or even in person who lives right down the street in New York or London.  In fact, Nigerian private investigators say nearly 50% of all Nigerian fraud taking place today originates from Malaysia, where criminal accomplices have set up shop to avoid the stigma of Nigeria.

Scammers Going Local

Some are so good, that even some Nigerian scammers still say they’re from Nigeria — the success of the scheme relies on a willing victim who isn’t familiar with these scams who sends out cash to the scammer.  But, it’s more likely that a criminal conducting internet fraud from Lagos will use Skype or other internet phones to appear with a local number in your home state or country.  And, an experienced con-artist will assume the identity of a real person from the internet, taking photos, address, names and employment information from a Facebook or Linkedin profile, so when you try to verify, everything will appear legitimate.

Identity Theft and More

Suppose you think you’re safe because the person you’re communicating with has never asked for money.  This is where more than 50% of internet crime victims go wrong.  Many experienced criminals online today know that people are skeptical and watching out for fraud.  Instead, a Nigerian scammer may just try to obtain your data, slowly asking you questions and gaining your trust, or taking the faster approach and emailing you a virus to steal your passwords.  There are countless ways for you to be a victim, so don’t assume you’re safe just because you know some of the red flags and are cautious.  Scammers evolve and change their tactics frequently.  If there is romance involved, get a dating background check to lower your risk.

Identity theft occurs when a person assumes your identity with the intent to commit fraud or another criminal act.  Criminals obtain the information they need through a variety of ways: stealing your wallet, going through your garbage or compromising your bank information.  You can be approached in person, or via the telephone or Internet.  And remember, fraud can also originate from a claimed business rather than an individual. Verify the authenticity of a company to fight fraud prior to doing business with it.

Lowering Your Risk

Although internet crimes are becoming more complex by the day,  and more difficult to detect, investigators say there are some steps you can take to lower your risk for fraud and scams.

1. Protect your private information, and share less online.
2. Be very skeptical of anyone you meet online, no matter what the website.
3. Take your time getting to know someone on the internet.
4. When it comes time to meet in person, do so in a public place
5. Consider a dating background check or international background check to lower your risk
6. Never send money to anyone overseas you’re not sure about, or don’t know personally
7. Never provide your personal data or financial data to any unsolicited caller
8. Use verified sites with seals such as Truste, McAfee and the Better Business Bureau
9. Listen to your gut instinct.  If something seems too good to be true…

The rise of the Internet has brought the frequency to a new level.  As scams become more prevalent, be sure to educate yourself so you can avoid the scammers and prevent losing thousands of dollars.  Despite the awareness of Nigerian scams, criminal operations are thriving, and anyone can be a victim.

C. Wright
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