The Nigerian Email Scam

The Bait:

Con artists claim to be officials, businesspeople, or the surviving spouses of former government honchos in Nigeria or another country whose money is somehow tied up for a limited time. They offer to transfer lots of money into your bank account if you will pay a fee or “taxes” to help them access their money. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive documents that look “official.” Then they ask you to send money to cover transaction and transfer costs and attorney’s fees, as well as blank letterhead, your bank account numbers, or other information. They may even encourage you to travel to the country in question, or a neighboring country, to complete the transaction. Some fraudsters have even produced trunks of dyed or stamped money to try to verify their claims.

The Catch:

The emails are from crooks trying to steal your money or your identity. Inevitably, in this scenario, emergencies come up, requiring more of your money and delaying the “transfer” of funds to your account. In the end, there aren’t any profits for you, and the scam artist vanishes with your money. The harm sometimes can be felt even beyond your pocketbook: according to State Department reports, people who have responded to “pay in advance ” solicitations have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered.

Your Safety Net:

If you receive an email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of a foreign country, don’t respond.

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