Many of the perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud are Nigerian and this is generally known as the 419 scam, named after section 419 of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes
Typically, the scams promise a large sum of money – an inheritance, money locked up by government, a donation or something similar. They send out tens of millions of spam emails offering the money and wait for replies from people who believe they will get something for nothing.
However, these people end up paying processing fees or release fees etc. and there is no large sum of money.
You might think that most people know of these scams and no-one would get caught out anymore but that is sadly not true. It is estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars flow into Nigeria each year through these scams.
People in other countries do use these scams as well of course but it is predominantly people in Nigeria.
How a Typical Scam Plays Out
1. The recipient receives an email or letter or fax from an alleged "official" often in a Nigerian Ministry but can be from any government or official sounding body. It contains an offer to share a large sum of money (usually in the millions) with the recipient.
2. He receives numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logo testifying to the authenticity of the proposal.
3. He is asked to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone/fax numbers.
4. Eventually the recipient must provide up-front or advance fees for various taxes, attorney fees, transaction fees or bribes or something similar.
5. He is encouraged to travel overseas to receive the money.
6. There is no large sum of money and the scammers move onto their next victim.
The most common forms of these scams are:-
- · Inheritance
- · Contract fraud
- · Purchase of property
- · Currency conversion
- · Over invoiced contracts
- · Sale of crude oil at below market prices
- · Government schemes
The confidential nature of the transaction and its urgency is emphasized repeatedly to make the recipient believe they are part of something big.
Although these schemes have been around for some time, there has been a big increase recently in such activities.
The Nigerian Government blames the growing problem on mass unemployment, extended family systems, a get rich quick syndrome, and, especially, the greed of foreigners.
The scammer wants to make the victim believe that he is being drawn into a very lucrative, albeit questionable, arrangement. He will become the primary supporter of the scheme and willingly give large sums of money when the deal is threatened which is common in these scams as a way of getting further money and involvement by the victim.
The recipient is now effectively a partner in this nefarious scheme. To prolong the scam, an alleged problem will suddenly arise e.g. an official may demand an up-front fee that has to be paid before the money can be released. This may be a licensing fee, local tax, attorney fees or anything similar. Each fee paid is described as the very last required. But, oversights and errors in the deal are discovered by the Nigerians and that means more payments are required and the scheme stretched out over a months.
There can be dangers beyond that of losing money.
Victims are often asked to travel to Nigeria or a border country to collect the money. They may be told that a visa is not be necessary to enter the country. The Nigerian con artists then bribe airport officials to pass the victims through Immigration and Customs. However, it is a serious offence to enter Nigeria without a valid visa and this can be held over the victim to extort more money. Threats of violence may follow if money is not paid. Once in Nigeria the victim is at the mercy of the scammers and they have various ways to get more money from the victim.
Variants on the Basic Scam
The scammers know their scam is well known and they play on that to create variants.
e.g. The Repayment Scam
Scammers send out their messages claiming to be from the United Nations or Interpol or the FBI or similar and tasked with retuning money and paying compensation to those who have fallen for such scams and those on the scammers lists.
One such variant of the scam claims to be from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It explains that he has been tasked with cleaning up the corruption in Nigeria and stopping the scammers. Apparently he is working with the Nigerian Police, special FBI and CIA agents in Nigeria and has managed to apprehend numerous scammers.
Then comes the interesting part – he has been authorised to make payments of $5 million to each person on a scam list and guess what? My name is on that list. Hence I will receive $5 million.
It instructs me not to make any payments to Nigerian Police or anyone else in Nigeria.
To release the funds I just need to pay a UN clearance fund fee to his office at the UN.
This is a creative way to try to get around the bad press that Nigerian 419 scams are getting.
e.g. The Kind Helper Nigerian 419 Scam
Mrs Marina Luda contacted me. She is a US citizen who is 48 and lives in Silver Springs in Florida.
Her story is that she was robbed by Nigerian 419 scammers.
Mrs Luda says she was scammed out of $85,000 and tried to claim compensation but got nothing so she went to the FBI and they told her to contact Barrister James Leo who would help her.
The Barrister did help her and got her $5.5 million in compensation.
Why the compensation is so much higher than the amount she lost is not explained and of course makes no sense.
She says she contacted me because she saw my name and email address on a compensation list. So I have to stop dealing with whoever has been helping me to claim compensation and instead go to Barrister James Leo who will get me millions of dollars.
This is all lies of course and seems a very strange story to concoct.
Anyone who believes they will get millions of dollars in compensation for having lost a small amount is far too open to being scammed and should think again.
As the Nigerian government suggests, where there are greedy foreigners there are likely to be fraudsters wanting to relieve them of their money.
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