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Nigerian Scams: Why They Just Won’t Die, Explained

Posted On   date17/01/2014

Nigerian Scams: Why They Just Won’t Die, Explained

Everyone knows about the risk for fraud and scams in Nigeria.  You’d have to be a fool to be a victim, right?  Not necessarily!  As this article will demonstrate, Nigerian scams have been around for years, and despite the increased awareness, the criminals continue to operate successfully, stealing from hundreds of thousands of victims each year. How do they get away with it, and why can’t they be stopped?

To give you an example of how serious a Nigerian scam can be, we have seen victims lose their life savings, their homes, and in some extreme cases, these crooks can cost a victim his or her life.  A recent California woman got duped for $500,000 in a Nigerian online dating scam.  Left emotionally and financially ruined, some have committed suicide.  The U.S. and Australian embassies in West Africa have had reports of U.S. and Australia citizens being abducted, after traveling to meet their online romance partner.

Clearly, the impact can be devastating and this is serious crime.  Why can’t they be stopped?  It’s a great question.  Our investigators will shed some light on this, and list a few reasons below.

#1 – Nigerians know they’ve got a bad name

The internet criminals operating out of Lagos and Abuja internet cafes have had plenty of practice; they’ve been scamming people for years.  Nigeria in a sense developed advanced fee fraud, originally named the 419 scam.  But, scammers have come a long way since sending you spam emails!

Nigerians know the world is leery of people from their country, so when targeting victims online and offline, they now use criminal accomplices based in countries like Turkey, Malaysia, Ghana, Benin, South Africa, the U.K. and even the U.S.  They also use Skype and other internet phones to appear local or in another country.  You can be a victim of a Nigerian scam without ever hearing the word Nigeria!

#2 – Internet crooks are getting good at what they do

Let’s say a Nigerian scammer has assumed the identify of a real person from Ohio.  He saw the profile on Facebook or Match.com, and he proceeded to use that identity.  His photos are “real”, he is using an Ohio phone number, and he never asks for money.  When you go to check him out, you find on the internet that everything he said is “true”, because it’s all there online.  You’ve just been a victim!

Investigators caution that internet criminals often use real identities, pretending to be that person, so it can be very difficult to verify someone you met online without the help of  private investigator.

#3 – But he never asked for money, so I’m safe, right?

Wrong!  Experienced scammers have learned that the real money is made in other ways.  There might be a virus in one of the email attachments he or she sends you to steal your passwords.  Or, he or she  might slowly ask you for more personal information, to “get to know you better.”  Once the criminals has your full name, date of birth, address, and copy of your ID, the crook is already stealing your money.  Blackmail is common, so don’t reveal private information, images or video that could be used against you.

#4 – Romance scams are only the tip of the iceberg

Romance scams are just one of many criminal tactics used by Nigerians.  Fake profiles used in online dating are a serious problem, but investigators caution that social networks such as Facebook are also targeted.  Fake companies, fraudulent websites, impersonators, and investment scams are also booming, so even corporations and CEO’s can be a victim of the endless combinations of fraud targeting victims.  Be safe!  If you’ve met an individual online, get a background check to lower your risk.

Lastly, internet scams evolve fast, and as soon as you think you know what to watch out for, the crooks have already changed their approach!  When in doubt, consult with a professional.

C. Wright
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